There are many health benefits of adding fish to a vegetarian diet.
Adding seafood, including fish, crustaceans and mollusks, to a vegetarian diet can provide beneficial nutrients and variety.
Get More Omega-3s
Some plant foods, including walnuts and flaxseeds, contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fat. However, this type of ALA is not easily converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the body (
DHA and EPA have additional health benefits, helping not just the heart, but also brain function and mood (17).
In contrast, oily fish, such as salmon and sardines, contains EPA and DHA.
Boost Your Protein Intake
Humans only need about 0.8 grams of protein per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of body weight daily to stay healthy. That’s about 54 grams for a 150-pound (68-kg) person.
However, many people prefer to eat more protein than that.
A high-protein diet can be hard to achieve with just plant proteins, especially if you don’t want extra carbs or fat with your protein.
Fish and other seafood offer an excellent source of lean protein.
Seafood Is Packed With Other Nutrients
Beyond omega-3s and protein, seafood is rich in several other nutrients.
For instance, oysters are extremely high in vitamin B12, zinc and selenium. Just one oyster delivers 133% of the RDI for vitamin B12 and 55% of the RDI for zinc and selenium (18).
Mussels are also super rich in vitamin B12 and selenium, as well as manganese and the rest of the B vitamins (19).
White fish varieties such as cod and flounder don’t deliver much omega-3 fats, but they are a source of extremely lean protein.
For example, just 3 ounces of cod provide 19 grams of protein and less than a gram of fat. Cod is also an excellent source of selenium and a good source of phosphorus, niacin and vitamins B6 and B12 (20).
You’ll Have Extra Options
Being a vegetarian can be limiting at times.
Eating out at restaurants often leaves you with a not-so-healthy choice, with dishes like cheesy pasta as the main “veggie” option.
If health at least partially motivates your food choices, then becoming pescatarian will give you more options.
And fish is generally a good one, especially if you get it baked, grilled or sautéed, as opposed to deep-fried (
Adding seafood to a vegetarian diet gives you more options and is a good way to get protein, omega-3s and other nutrients.