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What Are the Benefits of Being a Pescatarian?

Following a pescatarian diet – also known as a pesco-vegetarian diet — may provide you with some health benefits, especially if you usually do not follow a vegetarian diet. People who follow pescatarian meal plans avoid red meat and poultry, but consume fish, dairy foods and eggs, as well as plant-based foods.

Healthy Weight Management

Switching from a non-vegetarian diet to a pescatarian diet may reduce your body mass index, or BMI, as pescatarians have a lower BMI than non-vegetarians, reports a study published in 2009 in “Diabetes Care.”

Type 2 Diabetes Risks

If you usually eat red meat, changing to a pescatarian diet also reduces your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, according to the 2009 study in “Diabetes Care.”

Nutritional Quality

Pescatarian diets that contain fish, low-fat dairy foods, eggs and plant-based foods are often higher in nutritional quality than non-vegetarian diets that contain meat, according to a review published in 2014 in the journal “Nutrients.” The authors of this review suggest that pescatarian dieters have high calcium intakes and generally consume lots of fruits and vegetables, while also consuming lower quantities of unhealthy fats and sodium, resulting in diets that are high in nutrition.

Potential Concerns

Although following a pescatarian diet can provide you with some health benefits, eating large quantities of fish has potential drawbacks. Fish contains mercury and other environmental toxins that can be harmful for pregnant women, nursing women and children, when consumed in excess. These population groups should avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish and also limit consumption of lower-mercury fish such as salmon, catfish, pollack and canned light tuna, to 12 ounces weekly, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.