Pescetarian diet: principles and health benefits + recipes

New diets keep emerging. This is due, of course, to the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. An effective diet plan should be developed based on individual needs and taking the person as a whole. With this in mind, it might turn out that a vegetarian diet works better for you than a carnivorous diet and vice versa.

But what will you say if you learn that there is a new alternative that concentrates the best of a vegetarian diet, without banning the consumption of fish and seafood? This is called the pescatarian diet. An overview can be found in the following paragraphs.

what is it and what are its principles?

In essence, the pescetarian diet is a vegetarian diet that also includes fish and seafood. The term originates from the Latin word “piscis” which means “fish”. People who follow this diet are called “pesco-vegetarians” or “pescetarians”. Other than eating seafood, there are no hard and fast rules for determining whether you are a vegetarian or a pescetarian. There is also no guideline as to how often you must eat fish to be considered a Pescetarian.

This means that you can follow a meatless diet by consuming seafood only occasionally, or you have the choice of including these foods in every meal. To provide you with the necessary protein, you consume seafood, legumes, grains and oilseeds, and sometimes eggs and dairy products. The pescetarian diet contributes to having a balanced diet that provides you with all the necessary nutrients.

Also, it allows for flexible modification of a vegetarian diet by adding lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish and seafood) to servings of vegetables and fruits. This diet is full of nutrients, high in fiber and low in calories, which could also help with weight loss. The pescetarian diet is often compared to the Mediterranean diet because fish is a primary protein source in both diets.

Also, they favor nutritious foods, such as lean protein and vegetables. This explains why the pescetarian diet can be classified as semi-vegetarian: products of plant origin are the main source of nutrients, but some animal products are sometimes included.

The benefits of the pescetarian diet

healthy pescetarian diet

One of the great benefits of the pescetarian diet is that you get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduces inflammation. These are contained in oily fish and especially in salmon, mackerel, herring, and fresh tone. Generally speaking, the pescetarian diet helps lower bad cholesterol thereby improving heart health.

Studies have shown that this diet reduces the risk of developing certain conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, all of which are risk factors for heart disease. Added to this is research from 2016 that showed omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a lower risk of fatal heart attacks.

One study also linked the pescetarian diet to positive effects on chronic disease and lower death rates, compared to diets that included meat. The observed results revealed that people following this diet had lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels and a lower risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, compared to non-vegetarians.

pescetarian diet allowed foods fish seafood vegetables seeds

What foods are allowed?

Unlike vegetarianism, the pescetarian diet is not rigid and allows you to experiment with certain foods. Here is the list of authorized products:

  • Fish
  • Seafood
  • Tofu
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grain pasta, bread, and brown rice
  • Superfoods like quinoa and buckwheat

Foods to Avoid

As a general rule, the foods listed below should be excluded from your diet when following the pescetarian diet. However, you can afford to consume them occasionally and in a limited amount.

  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Delicatessen
  • Butter/margarine
  • Alcohol
  • Foods Containing Trans Fat

Are there any drawbacks and health risks?

pescetarian diet menu fish slices lemon

The main downside to the pescetarian diet is that fish and seafood can be more expensive than meat, especially if you don’t live on the coast. Should you be worried about pollutant levels? All fish contain varying amounts of mercury – a pollutant that can be very toxic to the nervous system. According to health organizations, consuming up to 4 servings of fatty fish per week is recommended.

Pregnant and lactating women and those planning to conceive should not exceed 2 servings of fish per week as mercury can affect the fetal nervous system and cause developmental delays in the infant. Shark, swordfish, and marlin are high in mercury. So you have to be careful with these.

Like all diets, the pescetarian diet must be balanced and varied to enjoy good health. Lack of red meat means iron intake may be suboptimal. It is therefore important to include plant sources of iron such as spinach and broccoli and opt for cereals (for breakfast) that are low in sugar, as they are fortified with vitamins and minerals.

Some Pescetarians do not consume eggs or dairy products, which can mean they are lacking in essential nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, and zinc. So, if you are considering adopting the pescetarian diet, it is essential to make sure that the contents of your plate are healthy and balanced and provide you with the nutrients you need.

Pescetarian menu 3 days

pescetarian diet breakfast menu toast avocado egg

When you start the pescetarian diet, it is important to focus on meals made at home. This guarantees you a healthy and varied diet, which is the main objective of the diet based on the consumption of vegetables and seafood. If it is difficult for you to take the plunge, you simply need to ‘try this healthy diet for 3 days and judge for yourself.

Day 1

Breakfast: 1 toast with avocado and egg + 1 antioxidant berry smoothie

  • 1 slice of whole-grain sourdough bread
  • ½ small avocado
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 C. tablespoon of milk
  • 1 C. chopped green onions
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

Toast the bread. Mash the avocado with a fork. Spread it on the toast. Whisk the egg and milk. Lightly grease a small pan and put the egg in it with the milk. Cook to place on the toast. Sprinkle with chopped green onions and pepper.

For the smoothie: 1 box of Greek yogurt + 1 cup of frozen berries + ½ cup of pomegranate juice

pescetarian diet vegetable tuna wrap

Lunch: 1 low-calorie, low-fat tuna wrap; ¼ cup roasted red beet hummus

  • 1 whole wheat wrap or 1 tortilla
  • 85 g tuna (canned, drained water)
  • ½ stalk of celery, diced
  • ¼ red pepper
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup spinach, fresh, rinsed, drained
  1. Place the drained tuna in a medium bowl. Add the celery and peppers cut into small cubes. Also, add the plain Greek yogurt and stir.
  2. Place the spinach in the middle of the wrap and pour the tuna mixture over it. Fold the edges to form an envelope.

Do not hesitate to consult our article reserved for quick hummus recipes to choose the dip that suits you best.

pan-fried salmon quinoa spinach

Dinner: 1 serving of 120 g pan-seared salmon with quinoa and Mediterranean spinach

  • ¼ cup black olives
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • ¼ cup of fresh parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ½ cup of dry quinoa
  • 225 g wild Alaskan salmon
  • Black pepper
  • 4 cups of baby spinach leaves
  • 1 C. tablespoon olive oil
  • Dried basil
  • Salt
  • 30 g of feta cheese
  1. Chop the olives, sundried tomatoes, and parsley. Peel and mince the garlic. Set aside.
  2. Cook the quinoa according to the package directions.
  3. In the meantime, rub the salmon with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper. Cook the salmon in a pan for 3 minutes on each side.
  4. In a pan, brown the minced garlic in a small amount of olive oil. Add the young spinach leaves and saute them quickly. When the quinoa is cooked, toss it with olives, sundried tomatoes, parsley, basil, and salt. Stir and stir in the feta cheese. Put the garnish on a plate and place the salmon on top.
oatmeal spinach feta egg

Day 2

Breakfast: 1 bowl of spinach and feta oatmeal + ½ grapefruit

  • ½ cup of oatmeal
  • 1 cup of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup of baby spinach leaves
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 C. crumbled feta cheese
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  1. Bring the broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the oatmeal and lower the heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the oats have absorbed all the liquid. In the meantime, brown the garlic and spinach in a small non-stick skillet. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Cook the egg. Put the oatmeal in a bowl. Add the spinach and feta cheese. Garnish with egg and pepper.
sandwich toast vegetables

Lunch: 1 Mediterranean sandwich + 30 grams of almonds

  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 small zucchini
  • ¼ tsp. tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 2 tbsp. hummus
  • ½ Roma tomato, sliced
  • 1 handful of microgreens
  • 1 roasted red pepper (canned)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 C. tablespoon of wine vinegar
  • Pepper and salt to taste
  1. Slice the carrot and zucchini into strips. Brush with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the vegetables for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the heat.
  2. Place the roasted pepper, garlic cloves, nuts, and vinegar in the bowl of a small blender. Mix until well blended.
  3. Toast the bread. Assemble the sandwich: spread one of the slices of bread with hummus and the other with the spread you just made. Place the carrot and zucchini strips and the tomato slices. Add the microgreens and cover with the other piece of bread.

Dinner: 1 serving of spicy halibut garnished with blistered cherry tomatoes and barley

  • 450 g halibut, in 4 pieces
  • 2 tbsp. zaatar (a traditional blend of Middle Eastern spices)
  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • 225 g of broccolini, or about 12 stems
  • 1 cup of dry barley
  • 3 tbsp. tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Put the barley and 3 cups of water in a saucepan. Boil the water. Cover and cook for 30 minutes until the water is absorbed.
  2. Sprinkle the halibut pieces with zaatar, rubbing all sides without the skin. Grill the fish in a pan with 1 tbsp. tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Place the broccolini in a large ovenproof bowl with 3 Tbsp. tablespoon of water. Microwave on high power for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add a little olive oil to a pan over medium-high heat. Pour in the cherry tomatoes and cook until they start to soften. Remove from the heat. Add the broccolini to the same pan and stir.
  5. Mix the barley with 1 tbsp. tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Divide everything among 4 plates.
tofu scramble vegetables healthy breakfast

Day 3

Breakfast: 1 ½ cup of tofu and vegetable scramble + 250ml of orange juice

Lunch: 1 ½ cup of kale salad with citrus and quinoa: 1 can of sardines with whole-grain crackers

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 C. maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 cups of water
  • ½ cup sliced ​​almonds
  • 1 cup of red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large oranges, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 4 cups kale, lightly chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  1. Prepare the dressing by mixing: lemon juice, olive oil, and maple syrup. Stir well, salt and pepper. Reserve in the refrigerator.
  2. Cook the quinoa according to the package directions.
  3. Add the almonds to a skillet over medium-high heat. Grill them for 3-5 minutes, stirring. Take off heat and let cool.
  4. Place the onions, oranges, and kale in a large bowl. Stir in the quinoa, toasted almonds, and feta cheese. Stir well. Pour 1/3 cup of the dressing over the salad. Stir and enjoy.
chickpeas curry brown rice

Dinner: 1 cup of curried chickpeas + 1 cup of brown rice

  • 4 cups of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 C. tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small serrano pepper
  • 3 tbsp. curry powder
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ¼ tsp. fenugreek
  • 1 ¼ cup water (or the cooking liquid from the chickpeas)
  • ½ tsp. teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and set them aside.
  2. Put the olive oil in a large saucepan and heat it over medium-high heat. Saute the chopped onion until it becomes translucent. Add the garlic and chili and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, turmeric, cumin, and fenugreek, stirring for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add ¼ cup of water or broth and stir. Put the cooked chickpeas in the pan, cover, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour in another 1 cup of liquid and simmer uncovered for another 20 minutes. Finally, add the chopped cilantro. Serve with brown rice.

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