Swai Fish: Nutritional Fact Why You Should Eat or Avoid It

Princess A.
15 Min Read

Swai fish is both affordable and pleasant tasting. Seafood in general, especially fish, offers many beneficial health benefits for people who eat it. Certain types of fish caught in nature provide a large amount of omega-3s. It is also a healthy fat that can be extremely beneficial for our heart. But some serve as protein foods that help build our muscles.

However, due to its price tag, many people often resort to more affordable options. This is because they think that the benefits are more or less the same. Unfortunately, it isn’t.


One such example is the swai fish, also as the basa fish to people. Considered as an important fish in the international market, it’s incredibly cheap at about $2 per pound. But are you aware of the major problems with this fish? Read on to find out.

This article gives you the facts about swai fish, helping you decide if you should eat or avoid it.

What is Swai fish?

Swai is a white fish with a light taste and flaky texture. The fish are freshwater fish found mainly in the Vietnamese river. It is considered a type of catfish. Because it is found mainly in the Vietnamese river, it is also called Vietnamese catfish, iridescent shark, or basa fish. However, it cannot be described as basa or a type of shark fish.


Where does Swai Fish come from?

The fish is raised almost exclusively in bigger factory fish farms in their native habitat of the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam. Frozen or chilled, it ends up on fish counters around the world.

Previously, the fish imported to the United States was called Asian catfish. In 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed a law that states that catfish cannot be classified or advertised only in the Ictaluridae family, which includes the American catfish but not Swai, like catfish.

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The fish is also from a separate but connected family called Pangasiidae, and its scientific name is Pangasius hypophthalmus.

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Other names for Swai and similar species: panga, pangasius, sutchi, cream dory, striped catfish, Vietnamese catfish, tra, basa, and although it is not a shark, iridescent shark, and Siamese shark.


What is the nutritional value?

In general, fish intake has become very common in recent decades due to all the lean nutrients and proteins, as well as the fat contained in healthy omega-3s.

Swai fish also have a protein content that is comparable to that of other fish, but it doesn’t have as many Omega-3 good fats. According to the USDA, one 4-ounce fillet of swai provides about:

  • 70 calories
  • 15 grams of protein
  • 1.5 grams of fat
  • 350 milligrams sodium (varies)
  • 45 milligrams cholesterol

From conducted research at Purdue University, swai (or pangasius) contains 17 milligrams of EPA plus DHA for every 100 grams of fish. Of course, the ingredients you use to cook and coat swai fillets will change the nutrition content, typically adding more fats, carbs, and sodium.

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What is the cost of Swai?

Despite concerns about human health and the environment, Swai has defeated many consumers due to its economic price. For example, a 24-ounce pack of swai chips sells for only $5.99 per target ($3.99 per pound), while Wal-Mart offers a package of £4 for $14.28, or only $3.57 per pound. These prices are difficult to discuss with many consumers, especially compared to halibut or cod that costs two or three times this price.

Is Swai Fish Safe to Eat?

Is it safe to eat Swai fish? The simple answer is no. This is not due to nutritional content, but to the way in which swai is generally raised and fed.


The main reasons for not eating these fish include:

  • The presence of dangerous microbes
  • The use of antibiotics to treat sick fish
  • The filthy water conditions
  • The constant mislabeling of swai

What are the Benefits of Swai fish?

The benefits of swai fish include:

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Healthy for the heart:

Swai fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. At least half of the calories in this fish come from fat, but in this case, fat is very healthy and not bad for consumption. The fat in Swai fish is good for heart health. Therefore, people who plan to consume fish regularly may face many advantages when it comes to health benefits.

Few of these, the essential nutrients found in these fish will help in the free flow of blood, as they help prevent blood clots in the body. Because of these qualities, it ultimately helps reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes. This is one of the great benefits of Swai fish.

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Good source of protein:

Similar to any other type of fish, swai fish is also considered a good source of protein. Thus, those individuals who are on a high protein diet should think of considering swai fish as food. These can, however, add variety to their diet regimen.

Since the fish is so high in nutrients, those individuals who consume it usually tend to get thirty percent of their daily requirement in just one serving. Hence with this kind of protein, dieters will also have the feeling of fullness faster. This would automatically lead to eating less as well as lead to the consumption of a lesser number of calories.

Hence, Swai fish is not only good for getting a good amount of protein in the body, but it is also a good method for those who are looking to lose weight in a healthy way. This is also a great benefit of Swai fish

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What are the drawbacks?

Swai fish have a number of health benefits, but they also have some disadvantages. One of the most common disadvantages of concern to many is that it is a high source of mercury content, which means that the long-term effect of consuming Swai or any other fish with such high levels of mercury can damage the nervous system.

Few of the most obvious signs and symptoms regarding mercury levels may experience vision, hearing, certain speech disorders, and other problems. In some cases, an individual may also have a tingling sensation in the fingers and toes and, at certain times, can cause muscle weakness due to the high content of mercury.

Drawbacks 1
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There are other health risks that people should consider before considering adding fish to their diet. One of these risks involves where the fish comes from and the production process in large quantities.

Fish may also contain antibiotics that can be harmful to humans, completely depending on the area from which they export the fish. Therefore, to ensure that all those who consume them receive the appropriate benefits of Swai without compromising health, there must be adequate knowledge of where the fish arrive and how to implement them.


Do I Need to Worry About Antibiotics and Mercury?

Data on chemical and antibiotic use in Vietnamese swai fish is not available but presumed to be in a very high state. 

Vietnamese shipments of swai are often rejected in European countries for too-high levels of antibiotic residue. If you’re purchasing swai from a reputable source in the United States, however, the FDA does maintain oversight on the safety of seafood sold within the country. 

As for mercury, how much is in swai? A 2018 study found that even when people ate 350 grams of swai per week (more than three servings), it contributed only around 30 percent of their “Tolerable Weekly Intake” of mercury.


The Environmental Impact Of Swai Fish Consumption

Several articles on the Internet have discussed the environmental impact of fish farming in Swai. Because of their cheap production and popularity in many countries, people are beginning to introduce them into their countries (often illegally) in an attempt to make a quick profit.

This led to a catastrophe in 2015 when the Swai fish escaped from an illegal farm in Santander, Colombia, and entered the Magdalena River. This increased the risk of extinction of some local fish in this river.

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You May Be Eating Swai Unknowingly

Unfortunately, it turns out that even if you avoid composing and cooking Swai fish at home, you probably have been eating this fish in restaurants without even knowing it.

According to a study by Oceana, Swai is one of the three most common types of fish used as Substitutes for the most expensive fish in restaurants. The study found the worrying fact that Swai was sold as 18 different types of fish, including grouper, perch, or sole.

In some cases, this wrong labeling in restaurants or supermarkets may be implicit, but in others, it is a fraud because Swai is much cheaper than most other similar types of fish offered in the market or as part of the menu.


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Since seafood often travels a long way to its final destination, it can be difficult to track its current type and origin, which could be one of the reasons for labeling. In addition, you could be consuming much of the fish if you order a sandwich or a meal that does not specifically say what type of fish is used.

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You should keep in mind that if you see a dish that simply appears as “fish” it is likely to be Swai due to the fact that it is so easily accessible and so economical. So, in general, is a pose that has already eaten Swai fish, even without knowing it.

A Sensible Approach to Swai and Better Alternatives

The USDA dietary guidelines recommend eating two servings of fish per week. Fish is an important source of protein, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids. However, Swai does not contain much: 100 grams (0.2 lbs) of Swai consist of 78.1 grams (0.17 lbs) of nutrient-free water. Cold-water fish, such as salmon and mackerel, tend to be much better than omega-3s compared to low-fat coasts, which live in tropical waters. But it shouldn’t be a fish at all: nuts, flaxseeds, and many cooking oils are also excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

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What are the Cooking tips for swai fish?

There are different ways in which Swai fish can be prepared for consumption. One of the most popular ways is to grill or bake fish in the oven, after cleaning it properly.


This fish can also be fried, boiled, or roasted. Whatever method an individual chooses to cook fish, the main thing to make sure is that it should be cooked completely. Once the fish is fully cooked, it turns white instead of the beige that begins with it at the beginning.

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Since the tissue becomes flaky after cooking, one can easily remove it from its bones and consume it. You can also use different types of herbs or spices with the fish. Some of these things that go well with Swai fish include pepper, lemon, basil, and dill.

Swai fish is something that can be tried in many different ways and also depends on the side dish or sauces that one chooses to use.

Image Credit: Canva

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