Pescatarian Diet for Heart Health? Here’s Why You May Want to Consider

By Etta Hornsteiner
February 20th, 2019 Health & Wellness No Comments
pescatarian diet. grilled salmon with salad

Are all plant-based diets equal? Perhaps, but when it comes to protecting your heart against heart disease, the pescatarian diet may rank as number one.

Pescatarian diet is a plant-based diet that includes fish and other seafood but not the flesh of other animals.  The diet, which is very similar to the Mediterranean diet, is a powerhouse. Combining the plant kingdom with the sea kingdom, the diet is rich in nutrients that can stave off cardiovascular diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

One of the biggest contributors to these statistics, according to Heart.org, is a lack of commitment to lifestyle change. Your lifestyle is the best defense against heart disease. One lifestyle change you might want to consider is a pescatarian diet.

Pescatarian diet benefits the heart health in three ways:

The pescatarian diet is packed with omega-3 fatty acids

EPA (eicosapaentanoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. These omega acids help to reduce inflammation which can lead to heart disease.

A five-year-study involved 8,179 participants. Approximately 70 percent of them had atherosclerosis (narrowed arteries due to a build-up of cholesterol). The other participants had diabetes and at least one other cardiovascular risk factor. It was noted that all were taking cholesterol-reducing statins.

Fifty percent of the participants received 4 grams of EPA, which is a high dose. The average recommended dose is 1 gram for those with heart disease.

The other half of the participants received placebo.

Those who were given the omega oil showed improvements in their health. Hospitalization for chest pain, heart attack, procedures for coronary artery disease, stroke and cardiovascular death occurred in only 17.2 percent of patients; whereas 22 percent of the placebo group had heart-related complications. There was an absolute risk reduction of 4.8 percent.

There was also a decrease in cardiovascular death, nonfatal heart attack and nonfatal stroke. The EPA group was 11.2 percent versus the placebo group which was 14.8 percent.

The study suggests that people who are at high risk for heart disease might want to consider a diet, such as the pescatarian. Additionally, these individuals should also consider talking to their doctor if they choose to supplement with omega-3s.

The pescatarian diet has a high satiety rate

Omega-3 fatty acids have a high satiety rate. Satiety means the state of being satisfied or full. The satiety level of foods has tremendous implications for weight loss. For it means you need less calories to feel full.

A study compared the satiety rate of fish to chicken and beef. The fish meal was recognized as having a greater satiety index than the other two meats.

This high satiety level comes from the fish-rich source of omega fatty acids.

Here are some good sources of fish with omega-3 fatty acids:

AnchoviesBluefish
HerringMackerel
Salmon (wild has more omega-3s than farmed)Sardines
SturgeonLake trout
TunaPacific oysters

Japan is known to be one of the highest consumers of fish in the world, with one of the lowest rates of heart disease. The average Japanese eats about three ounces of fish daily.

sushi-tuna, salmon

The pescatarian plant-based diet lowers heart disease risk

Because it is plant-based, the pescatarian diet is associated with significant health benefits.

According to Environmental Nutrition March 2019 newsletter, “a review of studies shows people who follow a vegetarian diet reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease by 40 percent, and hypertension by 34 percent. In addition, up to 91 percent of patients experienced the unblocking of blocked arteries either partially of fully.”

Plant oils contain its own source of omega-3 fatty acids called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid).

Plants with ALA are:

  • chia seeds
  • hemp seeds
  • walnuts
  • flaxseeds

Bowl of flax seeds

Tips for implementing a wholesome pescatarian eating style:

  • Make your meals at least 50 percent of vegetables (or 50% fruit at breakfast).
  • Add a little healthy fat, such as olive oil, nuts or avocados, when sautéing vegetables or dressing salads.
  • Fill one-fourth of your plate with high-quality protein.
  • Eat fish 2-3 times a week.
  • Enjoy one-half cup of whole grains and/or other starchy foods (like sweet or white potatoes) four or five times a day (from Environmental Nutrition).

For delectable, sustainable recipes, click here.

As much as possible, omega-3 oils should be taken through foods. The National Institute of Health warns that omega-3 dietary supplements, such as fish oil, have the potential to interact with medications, such as wafarin and similar anticoagulants. “Fish oil can have antiplatelet effects at high doses although it appears to be less potent than aspirin.”

Eating a pescatarian diet supports a healthy heart by reducing inflammation in the body, reducing weight gain, and lowering the risk of heart disease. However, make sure you are consuming quality fish, especially if you choose farmed-raised, by following Seafood Watch. You can also download the app.

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