Health Benefits of a Pescetarian Diet

A pescetarian diet is one that includes egg, honey, dairy, fish, and shellfish, but excludes all other animal products. If differs from a standard Western diet in that it excludes the meat of birds and mammals. However, the but it is not a truly vegetarian diet because it includes fish and aquatic invertabrates. I have some essays to write, so you can read one of them..

The pescetarian diet has been criticized by both vegetarians and proponents of a mainstream diet, because many consider it to be hypocritical. While the pescetarian diet is not as friendly to the planet or to animals as a fully vegetarian or vegan diet, pescetarianism does offer a number of critically important health benefits.

Red meats contribute to many serious diseases and conditions, but the health risks related to fish are minimal. For example, several studies have strongly linked the consumption of red meat to colon cancer, heart disease, and even diabetes owing to their high content of unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids and an alarming concentration of saturated fat.

Fish products do not contribute to these conditions, and in fact may help to prevent them. Most types of fish, particularly fatty fish like salmon, contain large quantities of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, which have been implicated in the treatment of everything from heart disease to depression to attention deficit disorder. Moreover, in 2004, the Food and Drug Administration a “qualified health claim” that omega-3 fatty acids can combat the risk of coronary heart disease. It appears that a pescetarian diet may actually combat the diseases and conditions caused by red meat.

Seafood products can also be a good source of iron for people who do not regularly consume red meats, iron-containing vegetables, or iron-fortified cereals. For this reason, pescatarians are at a significantly lower risk of developing iron deficiency anemia, an extremely common condition among vegans and vegetarians. Vitamin D-3 deficiency, another surprisingly common nutrient deficiency among Americans, can also be combatted with adequate consumption of tuna, mackerel, and salmon.

Hypothyroidism, a common cause for obesity in the United States, can also be combatted with a balanced pescetarian diet. Many seafoods, especially shellfish, contain high levels of natural iodine, known to protect against, treat, and prevent thyroid disease. Depression, mental slowing, goitre, and weight gain are common symptoms among adults with hyperthyroidism, but it can often be treated easily and naturally with a high-iodine pescetarian diet.

Pescetarianism is also an easier solution than full vegetarianism for people who want to give up meats but are concerned about the health impacts of soy. While protein deficiency is exceedingly rare even among strict vegans, many vegetarians have difficulty feeling full or satisfied without having a protein source in each meal. However, many vegetarians have difficulty digesting soy protein or are concerned about the unknown effects of isoflavones (estrogen-mimickers) in soy, leading them to switch to pescetarianism to meet their protein needs.

The predominantly pescetarian diet consumed by the Japanese may be a contributing factor to their long life spans and low cancer rates Although the Japanese smoke more and are exposed to more environmental toxins than citizens of the United States, their rates of coronary heart disease and cancer are significantly less than in the United States. The high content of life-giving Omega-3 fats, natural iodine, and vitamin D-3 found in fish may contribute to the overall health of the Japanese population.

If you are interested in transitioning to a pescetarian diet from a vegan, vegetarian, or meat-inclusive diet, consider discussing the change with your doctor, nutritionist, or a certified dietician. He or she may help you to adopt a balanced meal plan that will optomize your the health benefits of pescetarianism.

Sources Used:

Patrick L.”Iodine: deficiency and therapeutic considerations”. Altern Med Rev 13 (2): 116-27. PMID 1590348. June 2008.

Sources of Iodine. International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders. Accessed 15 Dec 2008.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Health. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. Accessed 15 Dec 2008.

“Types of Dietary Fat and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: A Critical Review”., Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 20, No. 1, 5-19 (2001)