Seafood, which is the primary source of protein for pescatarians, has a range of health benefits, most of which stem from the high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids found across a range of edible marine organisms, both freshwater and saltwater. Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for several bodily functions.
Pescetarianism is the oldest known food habit in existence, with evidence of early human communities feeding on diets that almost exclusively consisted of fish dating back to the ice age. In this article, we will explore why this diet is so popular today and why you should give it a chance.
If you're in the market for a restrictive diet that is both environmentally sustainable and nutritionally sound, it doesn't get any better than the pescatarian diet. The diet offers incredible flexibility since it allows the consumption of vegetables, eggs, and dairy in addition to seafood.
As we mentioned earlier, the diet has been around for a long time, and it continues to be the foundation of several cuisines around the world today. However, most communities eat this way out of necessity rather than choice. The first instance of a diet being followed with the aim of being sustainable can be traced back to ancient Greece. The Pythagorean community is said to have been the first vegetarian community in the west, based on Pythagoras's teachings, which stated that culling an animal "bruises the soul." However, most members of the community, including Pythagoras himself, were known to extensively include fish in their diets.
Fast forward to today, and the diet is incredibly popular among athletes who aim to find the balance between high-quality nutrition and environmental sustainability. The credit for first advocating the diet amongst sportsmen goes to the Diaz brothers. Nick and Nate Diaz are both mixed martial artists who have competed for well over a decade in several MMA promotions. They initially followed vegan diets but boarded the pescatarian train since it was more convenient to hit macros with animal protein. Kron Gracie, a Gracie family jiu jitsu practitioner, works closely with the brothers and followed the diet for several years while competing in jiu jitsu circuits. Kron played a huge part in bringing the diet to a wider audience through a Munchies video that revolved around his food habits. In the video, Kron is shown eating several plant-based foods throughout the day, ending with dinner at a local sushi joint, where he indulges in a multiple-course seafood meal consisting of crab, abalone, scallops, and fish, all embodied into sushi or sashimi. Kron’s current diet is centered around pescetarianism, with the addition of ethically sourced game like deer.
Seafood, which is the primary source of protein for pescatarians, has a range of health benefits, most of which stem from the high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids found across a range of edible marine organisms, both freshwater and saltwater. Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for several bodily functions. Andrew Huberman, an American neuroscientist, recommends an intake of at least one gram of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid, a type of omega-3 acid) a day. EPA is found in abundance in fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel. Huberman states that the most important macro for the brain is fat, since it makes up 60% of the organ. He also says that the majority of the world’s population under consumes omega-3, which limits the potential for optimal cognitive function.
EPA is also a potent antidepressant. Huberman mentions a study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry that compared the therapeutic effects of EPA to those of fluoxetine (Prozac), with the conclusion that a one-gram serving of EPA taken daily had the same therapeutic effect as a 20-mg dose of fluoxetine, the standard daily dose. Huberman himself consumes two to three grams of EPA daily, stating that the benefits don't stop with just a gram. The same applies to seafood; apart from omega-3s, seafood is also a great source of high-quality protein and micronutrients.
Now that we've established the diet’s effectiveness, here are two easy recipes you can concoct in the comfort of your own kitchen that are well within the diet’s restrictions
Salmon Poke Bowl
● Toss 200 grams of sushi-grade salmon into bite-size cubes with mirin, soy sauce, and sesame oil in equal parts, to taste. Set aside
● Cook one bowl of sushi rice and stir in one teaspoon each of sugar and rice wine vinegar, with a pinch of salt to taste.
● To assemble, place the salmon on top of the rice, on one side of the bowl. Use the other half for vegetables of your choice, such as thinly sliced English cucumber, pickled ginger, and/or edamame. Top with small sheets of nori and toasted sesame seeds.
Grilled pesto shrimp
● Make pesto paste in a mortar and pestle, using toasted pine seeds, basil, and olive oil; adjust the quantity of each until you achieve optimum consistency. Store-bought pesto works as well.
● Devein about 300 g of shrimp and toss with 100 g of prepared pesto and a tablespoon of lime juice before grilling until done. Top with more pesto and serve hot.