Fish is generally considered healthy and something that many people choose to eat instead of meat. There are lots of different types of fish, and fish varieties significantly outnumber the types of meat eaten by most people.
One increasingly popular fish is swai. But, is swai fish good for you, and should you eat it? In this article, we’re going to reveal some swai fish nutrition facts so you can decide whether it’s right for you. Swai fish comes mostly from Vietnam.
It’s a white, firm fish that readily takes on the flavors of whatever else it’s cooked with. Swai is native to the Mekong Delta, and most exported swai fish is farmed. Related to American catfish, other names for swai fish include pangasius, cream dory, striped or Vietnamese catfish, tra, basa, sutchi, and Siamese shark.
However, swai is not actually part of the shark family.
Nutrition Facts of Swai Fish
All fish varieties are high in protein, contain healthy omega-three fats, and are very low or free from carbohydrates, and swai is no different.
A four-ounce/ 113 gram serving of raw swai provides:
- 70 calories
- 15 grams of protein
- 5 grams of fat
- 11 mg of omega-threes
- 45 grams of cholesterol
- 350 mg of sodium
It also contains 14% of the Recommended Daily Amount of niacin, 19% of the RDA of vitamin B12, and 26% of the RDA of selenium. Swai contains calcium, too, although the amounts are relatively small.
Health Benefits of Eating Swai Fish
Eating swai and other similar varieties of fish can have several health benefits, including:
Improved heart health – swai, like all types of fish, contains a special fat called omega-three. Omega-three fats are strongly linked to improved heart health and protection against cardiovascular disease.
The American Heart Association recommends that most people should eat fish twice a week for its heart health benefits. Swai is not the most concentrated source of omega threes, but it still contains significant amounts.
Improved brain health – eating fish is good for your brain. The same omega-three fats that benefit your heart and also good for your grey matter too. This includes protection against degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as general improvement of basic cognitive functions.
Weight loss – swai is low in fat and calories and free from carbs. Replacing red meat and oilier fish with swai could save you a significant number of calories without reducing the volume of food you eat. High in protein, swai is also very filling.
Protection from free radicals – selenium is a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants provide protection from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause damage to cells and even your DNA. Free radicals are responsible for many health issues, including macular degeneration, hardening of the arteries, and even cancer.
Improved prostate health – selenium can help reduce benign prostate hyperplasia, a problem common in older men. Non-cancerous prostate growth can cause issues with bladder control.
A good source of protein – dietary protein is important for muscle repair and growth after exercise and for maintaining general health and energy. Swai is a convenient source of complete protein, meaning it contains all the amino acids that your body needs to function correctly.
While swai fish is considered healthy, there are some issues to be aware of before buying and consuming it. Firstly, as many as 40% of people have an allergy to fish, including swai. Allergies can develop in adulthood. Some people are allergic to specific types of fish or seafood, while others have issues with all fish and seafood varieties. Swai could cause an allergic reaction, triggering a range of symptoms that include itching, hives, nausea, vomiting, or headaches.
If you have a fish or seafood allergy of any kind, you should take care when consuming swai and may need to avoid it entirely. More worryingly, most swai fish are produced in very crowded fish farms. This increases their risk of disease.
Because of this, swai are routinely treated with antibiotics, anti-parasitics, and other medications that remain in the fish and are then consumed. Consuming swai regularly could lead to developing a tolerance to antibiotics so that, if you need to take them because of illness, they lose some of their beneficial effects.
Swai are also scavengers and eat almost anything they find in the water. This means that the fish contain toxic substances, including mercury. Avoid contaminated swai by buying fish with an eco-certification, showing that it’s free from potentially harmful pollutants. However, such products are not always available.
Food Safety and Preparation
Because of its very neutral flavor, there are lots of ways to enjoy swai. It’s got a firm, meaty texture and doesn’t disintegrate during cooking.
It can be used in place of cod, which is often more expensive. Swai takes on whatever flavors it’s cooked with and is easy to season and combine with sauces.
For safety, swai should always be cooked and never eaten raw.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, it should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit and refrigerated for no more than two days after purchasing and before cooking. If frozen, it should be defrosted thoroughly before cooking and never refrozen.
However, seafoodwatch.org has placed some varieties/sources of swai on their “avoid” list because of how they are raised and farmed. They advise that intensively farmed pond swai may be high in harmful chemicals and antibiotics and are best avoided.
Swai is quite a controversial fish. Many people take issue with the way it is farmed. The scale of swai production is enormous and has been described as the most intensive food production process on earth, during which one million tons of swai are produced annually. Such a high level of production is not sustainable.
Production on this level has an ecological and ethical impact, and large volumes of waste are dumped into Vietnamese rivers, affecting the regional ecosystems. Not all swai is produced by approved farms. Illegal swai farming makes it almost impossible to maintain fish quality and safety.
If you choose to buy swai, make sure it has been certified by an independent quality control group, such as the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. Also, it’s worth noting that, nutritionally speaking, swai is quite a mediocre fish.
There are other options with more impressive health benefits, including line-caught salmon, haddock, sardines, sole, and freshwater trout, all of which are not so intensely farmed. Eating a lot of swai could be bad for your health because of over-exposure to harmful chemicals.
However, providing it’s cooked properly and eaten infrequently, you should be able to enjoy swai without too many problems. Here are some other nutritional facts of foods you may be interested in;