The Restaurant of Diet Extremes
On one side of the restaurant, you find a table of vegetarians, along side a further table of vegans.
Some will be vegetarians or vegans for the proposed health benefits, whilst some can't bear the thought of a baby lamb being raised in captivity before being slaughtered with the rest of it's family simply so people can have a delicious Sunday dinner.
On the other side of the restaurant, most likely looking with a sense of discontent at the vegans, would be those who sing songs of the virtue of a high protein diet, rich in steak, beef and chicken.
Potentially also following a paleo, otherwise known as paleolithic / caveman diet, these individuals shudder at the thought of going without meat. Mention the term vegetarian to them and panicked thoughts of wasting muscle mass and tasteless meals fill their brain.
These two groups of people are enjoying the company of their tables, laughing, joking and looking forward to the weekend ahead.
Now and then the two large groups exchange looks of disdain and contempt, "how can that group really think that's a healthy diet to eat?", each group thinks about the other.
Drinks flow and tension builds between the two groups. The noise builds in the restaurant as staff become increasingly busy trying to keep up with additional orders.
Sitting quietly in the third corner of the restaurant is a couple, roughly in their early 30s. They make the most of each other's company whilst they wait for their meal. The man had ordered a grilled salmon on a bed of fresh Mediterranean vegetables whilst his partner ordered pan-fried trout with a tomato and basil sauce. They also asked for a small portion of sweet potato fried to share.
These two individuals are Pescatarian.
As with all things in life, the distinction is never this simple, there are advantages and disadvantages to both a high meat and no meat diet and to say that one way of eating should be adopted by everybody is quite simply, stupid.
As examples, a vegan may have the advantage of regularly consuming a wide variety of vegetable sources, on the other hand they would be more likely to have specific nutrient deficiencies such as protein, B12 & iron .
Someone following a high meat diet such as the paleolithic diet, may always have sufficient protein to repair muscle tissue, although those with existing kidney problems may find that eating large amount of protein puts additional strain on the kidneys .
- Activity Level
- Exercise Regime
- Any pre-existing health conditions
- Insulin sensitivity
- Sleeping Pattern
- Hormone Levels
What you should eat to improve your health will also depend on the unique composition of your gut bacteria, though the research into this area is still in its infancy - watch this space!
Now that we know we don't have to eat steak every day to be healthy, nor do we have to avoid milk, eggs and chicken, what are the options?
One option is the Mediterranean diet, focusing on whole grains and healthy fats.
Another option is being a weekday vegetarian, vegetarian Monday - Friday and meat on the weekends.
A third option is to be pescatarian.
A pescatarian is an individual who bases their diet & food choices somewhere between vegetarian and meat eater by eating everything a vegetarian eats with the addition of fish.
National guidelines recommends that we consume, at the very least, 2 portions of fish each week, with at least one being an oily variety of fish, but why, what's all the fuss about fish?
Being a pescatarian takes all the benefits that vegetarians experience, such as being more likely to consume a wide variety of vegetables, whilst also getting high quality protein, omega 3s and other nutrient sources in the form of fish.
No longer do you have to choose between being a vegetarian, meat eater or vegan.
Here's 14 perks of being pescatarian:
14 Perks of Being Pescatarian
1) Fish & Seafood Are Rich in Vitamins & Minerals
When comparing the benefits of synthetic vitamins (i.e. produced in a laboratory) against whole food vitamins (i.e. found naturally in food), the vitamins derived from whole foods reign supreme as synthetic vitamins aren't recognized and used by the body in the same way that vitamins from whole foods are .
There's also been research showing that for those with a varied diet, including plenty of fruit and vegetables, multivitamins provide no significant benefit .
The best choice therefore is to get all of your required intake of vitamins and minerals from whole food sources. You should definitely eat your vegetables, particularly your greens, but did you know that fish and seafood are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals too?
With so many delicious & nutritious options from the oceans, why would you not want to take advantage of what's on offer?
Fish is an excellent source of many necessary vitamins including B-complex vitamins, vitamin A and vitamin D. These vitamins are known to be beneficial for the maintenance of the nervous system, healthy vision & as a component of bone development respectively.
Fish are also a great source of essential minerals, including but not limited to zinc, iodine, selenium & iron. Zinc contributes to cell growth and the health of the immune system. Iodine supports effective thyroid function whilst selenium is a powerful antioxidant.
As vegetarians and vegan's remove meat and potentially all animal products from their diet, they increase their risk of developing anemia through making an iron & B12 deficiency more likely .
Fortunately, fish and seafood is an excellent source of iron & B-vitamins, essentially eliminating the risk of iron deficiency automatically! The iron found in fish is also more easily absorbed by the body compared to iron from other plant based sources.
Let's take one of the kings of the nutrition world as an example, Salmon. With a single serving of Salmon weighing in at 178g, you get not only a delicious part of a meal but the following vitamins & minerals for free:
- 0.6mg Thiamin (B1) - 40% of daily recommendation
- 14.3mg Niacin (B3) - 72% of daily recommendation
- 1.2mg Vitamin B6 - 58% of daily recommendation
- 5mcg Vitamin B12 - 83% of daily recommendation
- 449mg Phosphorus - 45% of daily recommendation
- 73.7mcg Selenium - 105% of daily recommendation .
It's not overly surprising that superfood salmon is so amazing in terms of the extra vitamins and minerals it provides. How about we take a look at some seafood a little bit more obscure, here's the extra vitamins & minerals you get from a 248g serving of oysters:
- 794 IU Vitamin D - 198% of daily recommendation
- 48.3mcg Vitamin B12 - 804% of daily recommendation (don't panic, it's water soluble!)
- 16.5mg Iron - 92% of daily recommendation
- 225mg Zinc - 1502% of daily recommendation
- 11mg Copper - 552% of daily recommendation
- 158mcg Selenium - 226% of daily recommendation .
Note: don't be alarmed by percentages that are above 100% of the daily recommendation - zinc and B12 for example are water soluble, i.e. the body does not store them and anything that isn't needed by the body is excreted in the urine.
As you can see, the extra vitamins & minerals that can be gained from eating plenty of fish & seafood is staggering, that's even before we've mentioned one of the most important nutrients from seafood - Omega 3s, but we'll come back to this super nutrient later.
If you've ever had difficulties with getting enough iron or other minerals & vitamins, potentially through following a vegetarian or vegan diet, might it be time for a trip to the fishmongers?
2) Fish Are an Excellent Source of Protein
Carbohydrates, or carbs for short, are simply the preferred source of energy for the body.
Eat something starchy such as quinoa or a banana and you'll have a steady supply of energy, choose something sugary like a chocolate bar or a doughnut and you'll have a quick spike of energy, followed by a crash maybe 60-90 minutes later, leaving you craving for more.
Fat comes in a number of different forms, from monounsaturated to polyunsaturated and saturated fats and even trans fats. Fat is essential to our diet and helps maintain effective brain and hormone function, even saturated fat .
One of the healthiest forms of fat is coconut oil,which provides a number of impressive benefits. On the other hand, trans fats are the fats you definitely want to avoid, typically found in fried foods.
Protein is the bricks and mortar of any living being. Protein is the component which builds the cells in your body, including your skin, hair, nails, bone, organ tissue and muscle.
Fail to eat sufficient protein and you're likely to suffer from slower healing of wounds, slower growth, reduced muscle tissue and even hair loss.
For anyone looking to improve their health, protein is even more beneficial. If you're looking to slim down, protein is one of the most satiating nutrients (i.e. keeps you fuller for longer) and therefore helps you keep tabs on your hunger.
If you're looking to bulk up and increase your muscle tissue and strength, protein will build your muscles back up stronger once they've been broken down through exercise.
Even if you've had an injury, guess which nutrient will help repair you fastest? You've guessed it - protein.
If your body is your home, think of protein as your go to DIY handyman for turning your unstable wooden shack in the forest to a full blown stone fortress - complete with your own heated swimming pool of course.
Fortunately, for those wanting more of a fortress as opposed to a wooden shack, one solution lies in the sea. Fish and seafood is one of the best sources of high quality protein. It is also more easily absorbed by the body than red meat and poultry.
Thinking back to those who may be slightly more at risk of protein deficiency or insufficient protein for a specific goal, i.e. potentially vegans or vegetarians, adding fish to the diet can be an excellent way to increase protein intake and take advantage of a whole host of related benefits.
Note - these two dietary camps are not necessarily guaranteed to protein deficient, but they are at an increased risk due to not having meat in their diets. For those looking to increase muscle effectively, it is also more difficult, but not impossible, to eat sufficient protein on a day to day basis to achieve this goal.
Lets look at a couple of seafood sources to see how much protein is contained:
- Tilapia - 22g protein / 100g
- Raw tuna - 25.2g protein / 100g
- Swordfish - 28g protein / 100g
- Skate - 21.5g protein / 100g
- Atlantic Salmon - 22.5g protein / 100g .
And that's barely scratching the surface!
There's a huge range of seafood options, many of which providing an excellent source of protein, helping create a leaner, stronger and more resilient you. Of course, if you want to up your protein intake further, you'll need to select the right protein powder for your goals.
3) Helps Maintain Eye Health
Sometimes it's flexibility, sometimes it's the functions of the brain and sometimes it's our vision.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic eye disease which causes vision loss in individuals over the age of 60. It causes blurred vision or a blind spot in the middle of your sight, sounds awful right?
Not to fear, seafood is here. One study with regards to this disease found that those who consumed two types of omega-3 fatty acids which are found in fish (DHA & EPA) at least once a week cut the risk of AMD in half .
A further study on those who already had AMD observed that 100% of patients had significant improvements in vision after received a course of omega-3 fatty acids with a daily dosage of EPA & DHA each day for 6 months .
Not only do the omega-3s found within fish and seafood prevent and potentially reverse AMD, but they also help to reduce the risk of other visual disorders including cataract, glaucoma and dry eye .
DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish is also "important for proper brain and eye development" and that infants with higher blood levels of DHA score better on visual tests .
Know someone who's pregnant? Might be an idea to invite them round for a salmon dinner!
So, we know that going pescatarian and consuming more seafood is a great way to fight against blindness in old age and even improve the vision of infants, but did you know that lots of seafood options are a source of Vitamin A?
Fish and shellfish, including examples such as eels, tuna and caviar, contain high doses of vitamin A in the form of retinol, boosting night vision .
4) Supports Healthy Joints
Fortunately you can control your own levels of joint pain somewhat through what you eat and how you train. It goes without saying that if you're experiencing hip and knee pain, jumping into a marathon training plan isn't your best option first of all.
There's a few ways that eating fish & seafood can contribute to healthy joints, one way is that EPA & DHA, both of which are omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood, can decrease inflammation .
An additional way that omega-3s may help is that they can reduce the enzymes that downgrade cartilage and inflammatory cytokines, helping to maintain healthy cartilage around joints .
In other words, if your body was a car, omega 3-s can be found under the bonnet, automatically removing any build up of rust to ensure your machine functions without any problems. Perfect for when you're going to tackle your next marathon!
5) Prevents Depression
Depression is a mood disorder which is far more serious than simply feeling a bit sad for a couple of days. At its mildest, people may experience a persistent low mood, whilst at it's most severe those suffering from depression may feel suicidal and that life is not worth living.
There is still much to be learnt about depression and currently it's still a topic that people feel uncomfortable talking about. Those with depression are sometimes stigmatized and encouraged to simply "get over it".
As with any emotions or issues of mood, the experience is caused in a significant way by specific brain activity. Fortunately, with any issues with the brain, nutrition can be an effective way to ensure both the brain and body is working in the way that we would like.
One such study which aimed to explore the link between omega-3 fatty acids and depression was The Omega-3 Bipolar Disorder Study conducted by Andrew Stoll MD from Harvard in 1999.
The study focused on 30 individuals with bipolar disorder, with half receiving olive oil and the other receiving 9.6 grams of fish oil capsules. Although there was little benefit on the mania-style episodes for participants, the fish oil group performed significantly better in terms of reducing their levels of depression .
Further studies have made links between low omega-3 intake from seafood and increased likelihood of depression during pregnancy, suggestion that an increase in seafood in the diet can be an effective preventative measure against depression .
Even more studies exist supporting the notion that increasing the volume of seafood in the diet and thereby increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake, is an effective strategy for preventing depression .
So that concludes the 5th of our pescetarian benefits - you'll be happier! :)
6) Improves Lung Health
In terms of increasing athletic performance, lungs are pretty vital. For those with poor lung health, such as smokers, even daily activities such as climbing a flight of stairs can leave you gasping for more air.
Apart from stopping smoking and being more active, is there anything else we can do to improve our lung health?
Of course! One effective method is by improving our diet by including more fish and seafood.
One study on a total of nearly 3,000 participants assessed the lung health of people with different diets and lifestyles. This was done by using a device called a spirometer, which measures the volume of air that can be blown out of the lungs in one second.
The study showed that those who had healthy diets consisting of fruit, vegetables, oily fish and wholegrain products (staples of a pescatarian diet) had much better lung function than other participants .
This same study also showed a pescatarian diet to be particularly effective for men who smoked, as the antioxidants from fruit & whole grains, in addition to the omega-3 fatty acids contained in oily fish, work to protect the lungs against the effects of smoking.
Naturally, also dropping smoking would yield even better results!
Further research also exists stating that those who follow a pescatarian diet are less likely than their peers to develop chronic lung disease .
Next time you're finding the stairs at your office a bit tough, or can't manage to keep up when playing with the kids, throw some extra seafood into your diet and start reaping the benefits.
7) Increases Fertility
Unfortunately, for many couples trying to create life, it isn't as easy as forgetting the contraception a couple of times.
For those with poor fertility levels, both male and female, it's always worth looking at nutrition before resorting to potentially costly IVF treatment. What might be an effective food to add to my diet to improve fertility I hear you ask?
No surprises here, it's seafood!
One of the main elements of a pescatarian diet is fish and seafood, many of which contains a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids. These super omega-3s, in addition to some of the benefits already discussed, help to regulate your reproductive hormones whilst also increasing blood flow to your reproductive areas .
Seafood is also a good source of zinc & selenium, with the zinc content being an effective component to help a man's testosterone & sperm production - two great consequences of a pescatarian diet if you're trying to conceive.
One things to bear in mind when eating seafood and trying to conceive is to aim to avoid some of the higher mercury options as this is likely to make having a baby somewhat more difficult. Options to avoid when trying to conceive include, swordfish, shark, king mackerel, marlin & tilefish.
Best increasing the amount of oysters you eat when trying to conceive, there's a reason they are an aphrodisiac...
8) Boosts Brainpower
Who wants a brain that doesn't work at full capacity? I know I don't!
Research into how nutrition can have a positive impact on the function of the brain suggests that omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient which is plentiful in a pescatarian diet, can boost the function of neurotransmitters .
A further study, one of many into the subject, conducted at the University of Siena in Italy, found that individuals who had more omega-3 in their diets had both increased mood and cognition. They concluded that a pescatarian diet is associated with improved complex cortical processing and increased attention .
In other words, whilst eating a pescatarian diet might not turn you into the next Einstein overnight, it's much more likely to have you thinking sharper and faster than you would otherwise.
With your new found sharper mind, maybe it's finally time to go for that promotion...
9) Reduces Risk of Alzheimer's & Dementia
Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia in which the reduction in memory and intellectual abilities is so severe that it interferes with daily life. In terms of the brain, chemical structures between brain cells are lost and causing them to die.
Whilst Alzheimer's and dementia often occur in individuals over the age of 65, it is not a normal part of the aging process and can happen to people who are aged as early as 50 or even 40.
The death of specific brain cells can cause a number of undesirable effects, including, but not limited to: a reduction in day-to-day memory, difficulty in planning or organizing and experiencing problems in visual perception.
An individual suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia may also experience varying mood, become frustrated more often or potentially be unusually sad. Naturally, these are all experiences that hopefully will be prevented for the benefit of the individual and their surrounding loved ones.
In terms of the research, 90% of what is known about Alzheimer's has been discovered in the last 15 years . Whilst there is still much to be learnt about Alzheimer's & dementia, the research is still in it's relative infancy, meaning there will hopefully be a much better understanding of treatment and prevention in another few years time.
From the studies so far, the results are encouraging. One study concluded that a higher intake of fish is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease .
It's worth noting that the same analysis did not find a statistically significant link between long-chain omega-3 fatty acid intake and the risk of dementia or Alzheimer's disease - so if you're looking for the best benefits, you're best eating fish rather than dosing yourself up on supplements.
As with anything in life, there are no guarantees, but if adopting a pescatarian diet can help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and dementia, what do you have to lose?
10) Encourages Healthy Skin & Hair
One of the best ways to upgrade both your skin and your hair might be right in front of you in the supermarkets.
The omega-3 content found within fish and seafood is a powerful component for making your skin more radiant and your hair both shinier and stronger.
In terms of your skin, there's a range of evidence supporting omega-3s effectiveness in supporting healthy skin and fighting undesirable skin conditions.
A study on Inuit populations, who have a diet rich in fish and seafood, found that they suffer much less from psoriasis than people in the Western world. Further laboratory studies revealed that omega-3 fatty acids reduce skin inflammation and also reduce the effects of psoriasis .
If you're a teenager currently suffering with the hormonal onslaught that comes with puberty, you may be experiencing some acne. But have no fear, research has also shown that a diet high in fish and seafood, due to the omega-3 content, can reduce the appearance of both acne & eczema .
For those wanting their hair to glisten like something out of a Loreal commercial, seafood can help you too.
The omega-3 content of fish and seafood can help reduce the dryness that leads to both wrinkles and brittle hair. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are also reported to nourish hair follicles, resulting in shinier and stronger hair .
Perk 9 of being pescatarian - beautiful hair and skin, so next time you've got a hot date, make sure you throw some seafood into your basket before you checkout.
11) Simple Low Fat or High Fat Options
For example, when following a diet of 2,000 calories a day, whether you have either a macro-nutrient ratio of 10% carbs, 60% fat and 30% protein, or potentially 40% carbs, 20% fat and 40% protein, will have a huge effect on both your well-being and athletic performance.
With the huge variety of options within seafood, the precise amount of fat and protein you want to consume in your diet becomes much easier, rather than trying to figure out the difference in fat content between chicken, lean beef, turkey and not so lean beef.
Before you know it you've massively overshot your calorie target for the day and trying to limit yourself the following day to make up for it.
With regards to the options available, fish and shellfish are typically either high or low fat, with much of the fat coming in the form of magical omega-3.
In terms of your higher fat options, consider fish such as sardines, salmon, herring and mackerel, all of which have roughly 10 grams or more of fat per 100g.
If you're watching your calorie intake, you may wish to opt for more of the lower fat options such as; tinned tuna, cod, haddock and pollock, all of which have approximately less than 2 grams of fat per 100g .
For a normal healthy diet, you should opt for a variety of both low fat and high fat fish.
The beauty with seafood is that the range of options lets you tailor your food choices towards your specific goals, whether that be fat loss through a calorie deficit or increasing your dietary fat through a higher consumption of omega-3 fatty acids.
The choice is yours!
As with any sensible calorie controlled diet, it's always useful to track what you're putting into your body so you can see how many calories and the particular macro-nutrients you've eaten.
MyFitnessPal is an excellent way to keep track of your food intake to help you achieve your specific goals - feel free to check out our profile and link up if you already have an account!
12) Enhances Circulation
Yes, 100,000. That's a whole load of distance for your blood to travel around in your body.
Like with any traffic system, what does every commuter and traveler despite? You guessed it, traffic and roadworks.
In terms of the human body, traffic and roadworks could be in the form of reduced lanes (inflammation & higher cholesterol reducing blood vessel capacity) or even in the form of roadworks (or a blood clot).
Inflammation, higher cholesterol and blood clots are all issues which will increase blood pressure, i.e. traffic on the road. However, rather than having a crowd of angry motorists on the road all beeping and shouting at each other, you'll have an increased risk of heart disease or a heart attack.
There is also the issue of thrombosis, which is the local coagulation or clotting of blood in a part of the circulatory system. In other words, this would be represented by a car crash, causing a standstill in traffic and a whole bunch of drama.
But don't worry, there is a way to both ease the angry commuters and clear your vessels for traffic, i.e. blood, to pass through easily.
Seafood often contains lots of omega-3 fatty acids, including both EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid respectively). If the body has a source of EPA and DHA available, it is less likely to use other fats which product hormone-like substances called eicosanoids.
Eicosanoids make the body more likely to suffer from inflammation and form further blood clots (rather than a single car crash, this would be a lorry crashing in the next motorway along - something you want to avoid!).
To summarise eating a pescatarian diet ensures the body has a rich source of both EPA and DHA. This helps reduce the risk of any car crashes happening on the roads of your circulatory system, therefore your blood can flow happily along without any problems .
As an added bonus, seafood is thought to increase levels of nitric oxide in the body , this then results in a further relaxation of blood vessels, helping improve blood flow - think of it like getting an extra lane on the motorway.
There we have it, a great way to ensure you don't have any traffic or roadworks in the vessels in your body.
Make sure you're eating enough seafood - nobody likes a delayed journey.
13) Protects Against Inflammatory Diseases
What hasn't been covered is that a pescatarian diet can actually protect you against uncomfortable inflammatory diseases, i.e. any disease ending in "itis".
This includes, but is not limited to; gingivitis, crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
One analysis studying 17 controlled and randomized clinical trials observed the reduction in pain due to omega-3 supplementation for individuals with RA, joint pain from an inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) or simply painful menstruation.
Their results suggested that omega-3 fatty acids, can help relieve joint pain associated with these types of conditions .
A further study examined the effects of fish oil supplementation on inflammatory bowel disease / syndrome (IBS). IBS is where an individual experienced inflammation in the small intestine or colon. Those with IBS may suffer from cramping, abdominal pain and diarrhea, potentially with added bleeding. Not fun.
The study consisted of 78 patients who had previously been suffering from Crohn's disease, a form of IBS. After splitting the patients up, with half receiving nine 500mg capsules of fish oil a day and the other half receiving a placebo, results were analysed after 12 months.
The results were as follows, after 1 year of treatment, 74% of those that had received the placebo had suffered the effects of Crohn's disease again. This is in comparison to only 41% of those who had received fish oil supplementation, this group also had reduced levels of inflammation after laboratory analysis.
After analysing the results of the survey, the researchers conducted that fish oil supplementation, or even better, a pescatarian diet, is effective at easing the symptoms and discomfort of those suffering from an inflammatory disease such as IBS .
Inflammatory diseases aren't fun - being a pescatarian is.
14) Promotes Heart Health
Potentially most astonishing finding from research is that the omega-3 fatty acids found from a pescatarian diet decreases an individuals risk of arrhythmias, or abnormal heartbeats - which may lead to sudden death .
Going back to our earlier metaphor of the circulatory system like a traffic network, an irregular heartbeat would be similar to all the traffic lights flicking randomly between red, amber and green.
Various trials and studies have been conducted into the nature and scope of the health benefits that can be gained from omega-3 supplementation and a pescatarian diet.
The American Heart Association has collated a range of the aforementioned studies and found the data supports both following claims with regards to heart health
- Omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of death from coronary heart disease 
So next time you're in a restaurant choosing between the mackerel dish and the other options, follow your heart and go for the seafood and your heart will thank you.
The Pescetarian Plan
With designing your diet, going pescatarian has a whole range of benefits (14 if you count them).
As with any dietary choices, you should always prioritize real food over being too reliant on supplements, much of the research around this area also confirms that many of the benefits listed above are limited somewhat when the omega-3 fatty acids come in the form of a capsule rather than a delicious fillet of fish.
Throughout your own reading you might also come across a compound called alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA for short. ALA is also a fatty acid which can convert in the body to both EPA & DHA - the wonder compounds found with omega-3 fatty acids.
But just because the body can convert ALA into EPA & DHA, doesn't mean it does so effectively.
The conversion process from ALA into EPA takes 3 stages inside the body, whereas the conversion from ALA to DHA takes 5 stages to complete in the body. This is also dependent on having an enzyme readily available called delta-6 desaturase, which not everybody can produce very easily in the liver .
Due to the complexity of this process, it is reported that less than 5% of ALA gets converted into EPA, with less than 0.5% of ALA being converted into DHA  - giving us much less of the compounds we need than we'd initially think.
This also posses a consideration for both vegetarians and vegans who, due to the lack of seafood in their diet, rely heavily on the ALA to EPA & DHA conversion process. It is reported that these two diet camps have roughly half of the levels of EPA and DHA from blood and tissue studies, when compared to non vegetarians .
The jury is decided, evidence has been passed around and the court is in agreement, for the best benefits to our health, we should be eating fish which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, but which fish should we eat regularly and is there anything to consider as we do so?
To answer both of these questions, we need to think about two different variables in fish (the third would be taste of course). Variable one would be the level of omega-3 fatty acids in the seafood, variable two would be the level of mercury in the seafood.
Focusing in on omega-3 content first of all. Here are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids in terms of fish, but feel free to google your favorite seafood options to see how they compare:
- Mackerel - 2.6g omega-3 per 3.5 ounces of fish
- Trout, lake - 2g omega-3 per 3.5 ounces of fish
- Herring - 1.7g omega-3 per 3.5 ounces of fish
- Tuna, bluefin - 1.6 omega-3 per 3.5 ounces of fish
- Salmon - 1.5g omega-3 per 3.5 ounces of fish 
So there's your top five in terms of omega-3 content according to Reader's digest, but what about our second variable - mercury content?
Mercury occurs naturally in the environment but as it is released into the atmosphere through industrial pollution, it can fall from the air where it is turned into methylmercury in the water which is toxic to the human body.
Unfortunately, fish absorb methylmercury over time, where larger fish typically have higher levels of methylmercury than smaller fish.
The fish that should be avoided, particularly for those who are trying to get pregnant or are breastfeeding, are tilefish (from the Gulf of Mexico), swordfish, shark and king mackerel, as these 4 fish have the highest levels of mercury.
So what might some great low mercury options be? Here's a few of the best choices of seafood which is low in mercury:
- Haddock (Atlantic)
- Mackerel (N. Atlantic, Chub)
- Salmon (Canned or fresh)
- Tilapia 
If you are concerned about your own methylmercury consumption use this calculator from the natural resources defense council for peace of mind.
And for those who simply want to eat as much fish as possible without a care in the world, focus your plates on white fish, such as; cod, haddock, plaice, tilapia, pollack, coley, dover sole, dab, flounder, red mullet and gurnard. These white fish options can be consumed as much as you like as they present no risk at all to your health .
Whilst nobody recommends eating a buffet of the highest mercury options such as shark, swordfish, tilefish (from the Gulf of Mexico) and king mackerel, don't let the fear of mercury poisoning keep you up at night.
A recent study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that omega-3 fatty acids could actually protect the brain from the potential neuro-toxic effects of mercury . This is because mercury damages cells through oxidation and inflammation whilst omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, therefore working to counteract the negative effect.
The research also suggests the pescatarian diet can make you even healthier if you're a vegetarian, vegan or even a diet high in meat. Often, what a pescatarian eats will be very similar to the popular and praised Mediterranean diet.
Even if you don't fancy giving up that juicy chicken, the flame grilled steak dripping with your favorite sauce, or maybe you just don't like the thought of animals dying for human consumption - try to add more seafood into your weekly diet, your body will thank you for it.
Why not try some of the delicious meal ideas in the pictures below?
So that concludes the 14 perks of being pescatarian, which perk is your favorite?
Know someone who needs more seafood in their diet?
Maybe you know someone who just doesn't know the benefits of being pescatarian?
Or that could benefit from expanding their diet from the restricted menu they eat?
Then why not share this post on Facebook? :)
You may also like our other Top Rated Posts!
 High-Protein, Low-Carb Diets Explained - http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/high-protein-low-carbohydrate-diets
 Should You Take A Multivitamin? Benefits & Side Effects - http://www.builtlean.com/2013/04/30/multivitamin-benefits/#fnref-16294-1
 Do I need vitamin supplements? - http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/1122.aspx?categoryid=51
 Anemia Risk for Vegans and Vegetarians - http://www.everydayhealth.com/anemia/anemia-risk-for-vegans-and-vegetarians.aspx
 Nutrition Facts: Fish, salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, dry heat - http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/4259/2
 Nutrition Facts: Mollusks, oyster, eastern, wild, raw - http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/4189/2
 Saturated Fats Not So Bad? Not So Fast, Critics of New Analysis Say - http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20140320/dietary-fats-q-a
 The Ultimate Guide for Fish and Seafood! - http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/drryan42.htm
 Macular degeneration - https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/macular-degeneration
 Pilot study for treating dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with high-dose omega-3 fatty acids - http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S221343441300042X
 Eye Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids - http://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/fatty_acid_1.htm
 Benefits of Seafood Consumption and Omega-3 DHA During Pregnancy and Early Post-Natal Development - http://www.hmhb.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/PNWG-White-Paper1.pdf
 Retinol Rich Fish - http://www.dietandfitnesstoday.com/fish-high-in-retinol.php
 Using Nutrition to Support Joint Health - http://education.athletesperformance.com/articles-2/articles-from-ap-specialists/using-nutrition-to-support-joint-health/
 How Fish Oil Increases Joint Mobility! - http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/how-fish-oil-helps-your-joints.htm
 Omega-3 for Depression and Bipolar Disorder - http://www.gmhcn.org/files/Wellness/Omega-3forDepressionandBipolarDisorder.html
 High levels of depressive symptoms in pregnancy with low omega-3 fatty acid intake from fish - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19289957
 Omega-3 fatty acids for bipolar disorder - http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD005169.pub2/abstract;jsessionid=0F2ED56FD27E400AA626D1EE6E8103D1.f02t04
 Eating a sensible diet improves lung health research shows - http://www.qmul.ac.uk/media/news/items/smd/35655.html
 Lung disease and Lung Cancer, natural supplements and alternative ways to have healthy pulmonary function, by Ray Sahelian, M.D. - http://www.raysahelian.com/lungdisease.html
 10 healthy foods that boost fertility - http://www.ovuline.com/blog/10-healthy-foods-boost-fertility/
 10 Top Foods To Boost Brainpower - http://www.forbes.com/sites/melaniehaiken/2013/10/18/10-top-foods-to-boost-brainpower/
 Get smart: increase your brain power - http://www.saga.co.uk/health/mind/get-smart.aspx
 What is Alzheimer's? - http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp
 Omega-3 fatty acids intake and risks of dementia and Alzheimer's disease: a meta-analysis - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25446949
 Understanding the Power of Omega-3s (Op-Ed) - http://www.livescience.com/38477-omega3-superstars.html
 10 Fish Oil Benefits Proven Beyond Medicine - http://draxe.com/fish-oil-benefits-health/
 The Benefits of Fish Oil for Your Hair - http://www.3fatchicks.com/the-benefits-of-fish-oil-for-your-hair/
 Seafood & Nutrition - http://seafoodhealthfacts.org/seafood_nutrition/patients/seafood_nutrition_overview.php
 Eat 2 portions of seafood a week - http://www.seniorsfishandchips.co.uk/downloads/Nutrition%20information.pdf
 Dietary fish oil augments nitric oxide production or release in patients with type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8436250
 Omega-3 fatty acids - http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids
 The Truth About Seafood Nutrition & Safety: Seafood Sense - https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=DM55t5GQvIIC&pg=PA47&lpg=PA47&dq=seafood+fish+omega-3+bowel+disease&source=bl&ots=hk8UtX7Q_H&sig=_-y4K1_ov2TPfaw0dv_KnWDNDME&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDoQ6AEwA2oVChMI3cGS2OPYxwIVhNUUCh323w6E#v=onepage&q=seafood%20fish%20omega-3%20bowel%20disease&f=false
 Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids - http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids_UCM_303248_Article.jsp
 American Heart Association: AHA Scientific Statement - http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/106/21/2747.full
 Asthma Solved Naturally: The Surprising Underlying Causes and Hundreds of Natural Strategies To Beat Asthma - https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=QuRTAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA287&lpg=PA287&dq=how+many+stages+to+convert+ala+to+dha&source=bl&ots=78cTZoSr4H&sig=3EeRh2iwtkxkLykyo-eW4JCjHP8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCcQ6AEwATgKahUKEwi3ob3j19vHAhXjFNsKHSIpB1Y#v=onepage&q=how%20many%20stages%20to%20convert%20ala%20to%20dha&f=false
 Why fish stomps flax as a source of omega-3 - http://chriskresser.com/why-fish-stomps-flax-as-a-source-of-omega-3/
 Davis BC, Kris-Etherton PM. Achieving optimal essential fatty acid status in vegetarians: Current knowledge and practical implications. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78 (3 Suppl):640S-646S.
 Omega-3 Rich Fish - http://www.rd.com/health/healthy-eating/omega-3-rich-fish/
 Consumer Guide to Mercury in Fish - http://www.nrdc.org/health/effects/mercury/guide.asp
 Fish and shellfish - http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/fish-shellfish.aspx
 The Crazy Way Omega-3s Could Cancel Out The Mercury In Your Seafood - http://www.prevention.com/food/omega-3-fight-mercury-seafood