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An Overview of the Pescatarian Diet for Students in Nutrition and Health Programs

In recent years, public interest in nutrition has grown, as research advocates for the health benefits of different diets. Nowadays, the pescatarian diet is becoming increasingly popular, as people look for ways to develop healthier and more sustainable eating habits. 

A pescatarian – also called a pesco-vegetarian – is someone who eats fish and seafood along with a vegetarian diet. Along with a host of environmental benefits that come with reduced meat consumption, the pescatarian diet is praised by nutritional experts for being low in saturated fats, high in fatty acids, and providing a good source of protein. 

For those interested in nutritional trends, read on for an overview of the typical foods and health benefits of a pescatarian diet. 

What Is the Pescatarian Diet?

The pescatarian diet has a lot in common with the vegetarian diet. Both generally don’t include red meat or poultry but may include dairy products and eggs. Along with vegetarian foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans, pescatarians also eat fish and seafood, such as shrimp. Many people find a pescatarian diet easier to follow, as they are able to derive their main source of animal protein from fish, rather than seeking out plant sources. 

Students in nutrition and health programs will learn the fundamentals of basic nutrition and the specific requirements of different diets. Professionals can apply this knowledge towards developing and implementing effective nutrition plans for clients within their dietary requirements. 

The pescatarian diet encompasses a vegetarian diet with the addition of fish and seafood

The Benefits of a Pescatarian Diet For Those in Nutrition and Health Programs

Since the pescatarian diet shares a lot of similarities with the vegetarian diet, many of the nutritional advantages are the same. Professionals with a diploma in nutrition highlight the positive health benefits of this diet:

  • Better nutrition: Pescatarians tend to consume more fibre, less cholesterol, and less sodium compared to omnivores 
  • Increased life expectancy: Pescatarians have a lower risk of premature death from various types of diseases than people who consume red-meat
  • Improved heart health: Fish is lower in saturated fat than red meat and rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary heart disease
  • Reduced risk of cancer: Pescatarians tends to be at lower risk of developing cancer, particularly prostate and colorectal cancers

Additionally, the pescatarian diet offers alternative sources of protein found in fish and seafood, making it a viable option for those concerned about the limitations of a vegetarian diet. 

Those in nutrition and health programs should note the health benefits of a pescatarian diet

Things to Consider When Following a Pescatarian Diet

For those who opt for a pescatarian diet, it’s important to be mindful of some of the risks associated with high intakes of fish. Mercury is a heavy metal and an environmental toxin that accumulates in fish, shellfish, and other seafood. Varieties of fish that include high levels of mercury include:

  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish
  • Tuna
  • Shark
  • King Mackerel

Pescatarians should be mindful of the high mercury content in some fish

In high amounts, mercury can pose health risks to babies and children in particular. That’s why health professionals recommend that young children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding limit consumption of fish and seafood. 

For the most part, the health benefits of eating fish outweigh the risks of mercury exposure. If you opt to follow a pescatarian diet, consider consuming fish less associated with high mercury contamination, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines. 

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