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Over the past year or so we’ve noticed an increasing awareness and interest in the pescatarian diet.
A lot more than when we first considered this lifestyle.
(It’s what inspired us to create Fishy Vegetarian of course.)
But with the increased “hype” as the kids say, comes a lot of misinformation.
That’s how it goes for any diet, isn’t it?
There are those that take the one extreme side, saying…
“The pescatarian diet is the BEST”
And then there are those that would say…
“Eh, it’s just another FAD diet.”
And to a degree, both are correct.
In the years since Tamryn (our official Registered Holistic Nutritionist here are Fishy Vegetarian) and I chose the pescatarian lifestyle, we’ve also come to the realization that “to each his own” rings true when it comes to what you eat.
Truly, each person is unique and to say that any one diet is the best for everyone is ignorant.
We’re not going to try to convince you that the lifestyle we happen to choose (pescatarian) is for you.
We’d rather give you the information we have learned along the way so that you can experiment and make your own choices.
So without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the 10 biggest health benefits of the pescatarian diet (backed by good ‘ol science)!
Let’s talk about omega 3’s
The pescatarian diet provides you with all the benefits of being a vegetarian, but with the added nutrient benefits that come with fish and seafood.
Oh, and it makes choosing a meal at your favourite restaurant a little bit easier!
But by far, one of the primary reasons fish is so good for you is because it’s brimming in omega 3 fats that are found almost exclusively in seafood.
Omega 3 fats are great for improving heart health, as it lowers the amount of fat in your blood (triglycerides – which can contribute to heart disease).
As with most nutrients, omega 3’s are best taken through whole foods, not supplementation.
While vegetarians and vegans can certainly get portions of omega 3’s through nuts and seeds, they don’t even come close to being as beneficial as seafood!
Below you can find the top 10 whole foods sources of omega 3 fats we eat:
- Salmon – 4,023 mg/serving
- Mackeral – 4,107 mg/serving
- Cod liver oil – 2,664 mg/serving
- Herring – 3,181 mg/serving
- Oysters – 565 mg/serving
- Sardines – 2,205 mg/serving
- Anchovies – 951 mg/serving
- Flaxseeds – 2,338 mg/serving
- Chia seeds – 4,915 mg/serving
- Walnuts – 2,542 mg/serving
You’ll notice the majority are fish and seafood.
10 Benefits of The Pescatarian Lifestyle
(updated to 16 benefits, simply scroll down)
1. Fish Provides You With Natural Multivitamins
We are all advised to take our vitamins every day, whether we actually take it or not.
But, did you know that our bodies process synthetic vitamins (produced in a lab) differently to the vitamins we get from whole food?
This is why you should aim to get most of your vitamins from fresh, whole foods.
A good place to start is by ensuring your daily diet contains an array of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are full of not only vitamins and minerals, but antioxidants too. Antioxidants help protect your body against disease.
By including fish (especially fatty kinds like salmon, sardines, tuna, trout) in your diet, you increase the vitamin content you feed your body.
Fish and seafood contain many vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, D, as well as B-complex vitamins.
These vitamins keep your immune and nervous system in fighting form, your eyes healthy, and your bones strong.
2. Fish is a Perfect Source of Protein
Worried about where you will get your protein from when cutting out meat?
By enjoying fish a few times a week you are providing your body with an excellent source of protein. The protein found in fish is absorbed by the body easier than red meat and poultry.
Protein is important for building the cells in your body. A deficiency may result in stunted growth, slower wound healing, hair loss, and reduced muscle tissue.
While all seafood is a good source of protein, these fish are the protein superstars with more than 20g of protein per 6oz serving!
- Canned sardines
3. Omega 3’s In Fish Keeps Your Eyes Healthy
If there’s one part of our bodies, many of us may take for granted, it’s our eyes.
They help us see the world in all her glorious colour, and without sight, our life would be very different.
The best way to keep the eyes youthful, bright and healthy is from the inside out.
The omega 3 fats in fish help to prevent macular degeneration, helps to keep the eyes moist (no more dry eyes!) and they can even reduce eye pressure, which can lead to glaucoma later in life.
4. Eating Fish Reduces Inflammation That Causes Chronic Pain
Are you sick of chronic pain every single day of your life?
Maybe you’ve been struggling with chronic sinus or arthritis?
Whatever it may be, your best bet to reducing the pain (not to mention all those prescription pills you might rely on) is to reduce inflammation in your body.
Inflammation is the root cause of disease, whether it be arthritis or even cancer. By reducing inflammation, you are giving your body a chance to “clean house.”
Omega-3 fats in fish provide your body with powerful anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce inflammation.
This can in turn help reduce your pain and even get rid of it!
5. Omega 3 Fats Keep Your Brain Young
Many of us don’t think about diseases such as Alzheimer’s when we are still young.
The truth is that it’s never too early to protect your brain against a terrible disease like this.
In fact, it takes years of looking after your brain to prevent a disease like Alzheimer’s so why not start now? DHA (a long chain Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid found in fish) has been shown to decrease the likelihood of dementia.
6. Eating Fish Boosts Your Mood
Did you know that eating fish can make you a happy person?
Often, people who suffer from depression, bipolar or any mood disorder, are deficient in omega 3 fats in the brain. These deficiencies can contribute to and worsen existing mood disorders.
By adding this healthy fat into your diet, you will start to see a significant improvement in how you feel.
Fish is also rich in Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, which together with omega 3 fats can help to boost your mood.
Add fish and whole fruits and vegetables into your diet, and see how you feel after just a few weeks!
7. Omega 3s in Fish Keeps Your Lungs Strong
Ever find yourself gasping for air after exercising or climbing a few flights of stairs?
By improving your lung capacity, you can improve your stamina during an intense workout and eating fish just a few times a week is one of the best ways to do this!
Omega 3 fats found in oily fish can strengthen your lungs during athletic performance, and it has even been beneficial for asthma sufferers, reducing the need for asthma medication.
8. Eating Fish Increases Fertility
When a woman struggles to fall pregnant, she may turn to IVF treatments to help make her dream of having a baby come true.
Unfortunately, these treatments are not only expensive, but there are also many risks associated with them too.
Before turning to IVF as a last resort, take a look at your diet, as it may be as simple as what you are eating on a daily basis!
To increase your fertility it is important that your hormones are balanced. The omega 3 fats found in fish and other seafood helps to stimulate blood flow to the reproductive area, as well as balance reproductive hormones.
The perks of a pescatarian diet for men wanting to start a family is that it increases sperm and testosterone production.
Be sure, however, to avoid the higher mercury fish such as swordfish, marlin, and tilefish to name a few.
9. Promotes Glowing Skin and Shiny Locks
One perk you may not be aware of when becoming a pescatarian is the wonderful effects on your hair and skin!
Omega 3s found in fish have excellent anti-inflammatory properties, which helps to keep your hair and skin looking healthy.
Skin conditions such as acne may also be reduced, as well as pesky scalp conditions such as psoriasis and dandruff. Omega 3 also increases hydration giving the skin a beautiful, dewy glow, and promoting silkier and shinier locks!
10. Keeps your weight under control
A common misconception when it comes to staying healthy and losing weight is that exercise is king. Science has proven that this is absolutely NOT the case.
Healthy bodies are made in the kitchen, with your food choices.
Often, those who choose a plant-based (vegan or vegetarian) diet turn to processed sugar and carbohydrates to supplement for the meat and fish they no longer eat to keep full.
This, unfortunately, can lead to an increase in weight, and if a plant-based diet is not done right, it can even be dangerous.
Luckily for you, as a pescatarian, you have an abundance of whole foods, and fish available to you that will keep you satisfied longer, while providing you with the healthy fats and nutrients needed to sustain a healthy body.
11. Keeps your heart healthy
We hardly ever think about the health of our hearts, and most of us simply take the beating beneath our chest for granted.
That’s until we eat something a bit too spicy or heavy and get that all familiar heartburn.
As a pescatarian, you’re more likely to consume heart-healthy foods like leafy greens and foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. These foods, according to the American Heart Association (AMA) decrease abnormal heartbeats (which may lead to sudden death) and triglyceride levels.
12. Your joints and bones will stay strong
Most people spend their days behind a computer all day. Sitting for hours, coupled with little to no exercise definitely places a strain on the health of your joints and bones.
Exercising alone will help keep your bones strong, but when you couple that with unsaturated fats (DHA and EPA) found in cold-water fish (cod, haddock, herring, salmon, canned sardines), you’ll be protecting your joint cartilage against enzyme attacks which could lead to bone fragility.
13. Could dramatically improve your sex life
There’s no reason to get shy about this one.
Get excited… literally!
14. Strengthens brain health
Did you ever catch that tv show “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?”
Let me tell you, I did.
And there were more than a few times I definitely was not smarter than those 5th graders…
Keeping your brain sharp and healthy can help you well into your golden years.
And omega 3 fatty acids can help. They do this by preventing brain shrinkage by as much as 40%!
15. Contributes to optimum child development
According to Canadian researchers, fish is considered “essential for neurodevelopment, which begins in pregnancy and continues throughout early childhood and into adolescence.”
The same study says that eating fish could reduce childhood asthma.
We know it’s not always the easiest thing to get kids into fish, but there ways to get those picky eaters to love fish!
Here are 20 healthy fish recipes for kids you can start with.
16. Good for the environment
We’re not strangers to the fact that overfishing is seriously damaging our oceans.
So don’t @ us because of that.
We make conscious decisions to buy and eat only sustainably sourced, wild-caught fish!
Then there is the case of meat…
If you’re still eating meat, trust me this is no shaming of your choices, we know you’re on your own journey.
It does bear mentioning, however, that one (yes, ONE) quarter-pounder burger requires 74.5 sq ft of farmland, 52.8 gallons of water, and 1,036 btus of fossil fuel (about 18 minutes of your microwave running).
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Google “meat statistics” or “food environment stats” or something similar and you’re bound to run into more than a few shocking bits of information.
As pescatarians, we’re doing our small part to protect the environment and reduce our carbon footprint by choosing to rather embrace organically farmed produce and only eating wild-caught fish.
There you have it.
That’s just 16 benefits I could think of right now.
I’m sure I’ll update this list periodically because as I live this lifestyle as a pescatarian, I keep discovering new benefits as I go!
Has anything stood out to you that you’d like to share?
Or perhaps you have a question?
Leave a comment below, I’ll check regularly.
Talk soon again, and cheers to your health!