Chances are you have heard the buzz lately of the many benefits of “plant-based” diets. Even the most popular “fast food” chains have vegan burgers popping up on their menus, and it seems like scarcely a week goes by before there is another “plant-based milk” on your supermarket shelf.
But while you may be most familiar with a vegetarian or vegan diet, there’s another option for those who want to eat more plant-based food, but still feel the need to benefit from some animal protein – the pescatarian diet.
“A pescatarian diet is a vegetarian diet with the addition of fish and seafood,” Rahaf Al Bochi, RDN, LD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “The focus is on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, plant-based proteins, and seafood.”
Bochi says that Apart from being more flexible than other plant-based diets, a pescatarian diet offers two important health benefits:
- It’s high in fiber. “The pescatarian diet is high in fiber from the whole grains and vegetables, which helps support gut health and reduces LDL cholesterol levels associated with heart disease,” Bochi explained.
- It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids. “This comes from the fish and seafood, which can help reduce inflammation associated with many chronic diseases,” she said. “The omega-3s from fish also support healthy brain development in infants and children.”
While this plant-based diet is generally considered safe for most people, you should still monitor your seafood intake. “Following a pescatarian diet does not mean consuming seafood at every meal,” Bochi explained. “The recommended amount of seafood for adults per week is two to three servings (12 ounces in total).”
She said that pregnant women should also use caution. “Pregnant women should avoid raw seafood and high mercury fish, such as swordfish, shark, and mackerel. Albacore tuna should be limited to six ounces per week for this population as well,” she explained.
That said, if you’re looking to up your plant intake, it could be a great option for you. “Anyone who would like to adopt a more whole, plant-based eating style can benefit,” Bochi said. “The pescatarian diet can help you consume balanced, well-nourished meals.”