What is a Pescatarian?

Looking for a healthier diet? The benefits of being a pescatarian might get you hooked.

Pescatarians have a lot in common with vegetarians. They eat fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, eggs, and dairy, and stay away from meat and poultry. But there's one way they part company from vegetarians: Pescatarians eat fish and other seafood.

What Are the Benefits of a Pescatarian Diet?

Some pescatarians believe a meat-based diet is bad for the environment. They feel that land animals raised for food use too many natural resources and add to pollution. Many people, though, choose this fish-based plan for their health.

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A diet that puts an emphasis on plant-based foods, fish, and seafood may provide health benefits. Fish, like meat, is a good source of protein. Yet, unlike red meat, it's low in saturated fat and often rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Studies show that eating less red meat, or none at all, lowers your chances of getting heart disease and high blood pressure. At the same time, two servings of fish a week may help your heart.

The omega-3 acids in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel help lessen plaque that builds up in arteries and lower your odds of getting an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). Omega-3s also lower triglyceride levels in your blood, another bonus for heart health. The healthy fats may even have a positive effect on blood pressure.

Limiting red meat or cutting it out of our diet completely may also lower your chances of getting cancer.

One study shows that pescatarians live longer than people who follow a diet that includes red meat and poultry.

Drawbacks of a Pescatarian Diet

As with many things in life, you can sometimes have too much of a good thing. Fish and seafood are no exception. For instance, some types of fish, like tuna, swordfish, and tilefish, have moderate to high levels of mercury.

Mercury is a heavy metal that can cause health problems, especially for babies and children. That's why the government recommends that young children, along with women of childbearing age or who are pregnant or breastfeeding, mostly eat fish that's low in mercury. If you go pescatarian, consider choosing lower- mercury types of fish, like salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and lake trout.

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