For many people, the allure of the paleo diet is having the permission to devour a beautiful grass-fed rib-eye for the sake of health. But for those of us who are watching our red meat intake or simply prefer to not eat anything warm-blooded, is it possible to be a paleo pescetarian? Absolutely! The paleo diet is rich in healthy fats, devoid of processed and hormone-laden foods, making oily fish — especially wild-caught varieties — an excellent protein to include in your paleo pescetarian diet. As it turns out, you can follow a paleo pescetarian diet and reap even greater benefits that if you were to follow a conventional paleo diet.
Get the Best Fats from Fish
Following a paleo pescetarian diet is a great interpretation of the paleo diet, because it actually can offset all of these health risks of the modern, inflammatory American diet even more efficiently than a typical paleo diet. That’s because oily fish are a concentrated source of omega-rich energy. Though the modern paleo diet can only speculate upon its health benefits for the modern human, we can look to contemporary hunter-gatherer communities to get an idea of how, specifically, a paleo pescetarian omega-rich diet can benefit us. Studies of Greenland Eskimos from the past half-century found that their high-fat, fish-based diets contributed to an incredibly low incidence of heart disease and arthritis among the indigenous population. It was because of this research that the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids were first discovered.
Paleo enthusiasts aren’t wrong about grass-fed beef being a better option that conventional beef. But grass-fed beef, while superior to non-pastured beef, can’t hold a candle to oily fish when it comes to these critical fats. Grass-fed beef only fulfills three to five percent of an adult’s recommended daily intake of omega-3s, and these come in the form of ALAs, which are easily accessible from a plant-based source like flaxseeds. In comparison, a single 3.2-ounce serving of sardines contains over half of your daily omega-3 needs.
Swapping out your red meat protein source with an oily fish-based protein means that you’ll be accessing your omega-3s in the form of DHA and EPA, which have potent anti-inflammatory properties that are being used effectively as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, and have even demonstrated potential use as a treatment for other inflammatory conditions such as cystic fibrosis, psoriasis, neurodegenerative conditions, and multiple sclerosis.
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