The Real Health Benefits Of Eating Catfish

Known for their long whiskers and unpleasant smile, catfish are one of the oldest species of fish (via Healthline). They're found almost anywhere from fresh to saltwater areas but avoid extremely hot climates. There's a lot of information swirling around fish consumption, with gray areas surrounding which types of fish to eat more of, versus which to omit. With catfish popping up regularly at eateries and fish markets, questioning its health benefits may be the first thing on your radar. 

According to the American Heart Association, adding fish or seafood to your diet twice a week can positively impact cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart stroke. Catfish, in particular, are extremely nutrient-rich fish that are also low in calories. One serving, 3.5 ounces, is about 105 calories and accounts for almost 39% of one's daily protein intake (per Healthline). This impressive lean protein is also comprised of vitamin B12, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids (which is an essential nutrient to support brain health). Since the body cannot produce omega-3s alone, incorporating fish rich in omega-3s, such as catfish, can be a great food choice to support overall health, brain health, skeletal muscle health, and your gut microbiome (via Healthline). 

How to buy sustainable catfish for its added benefits

There are differences in nutrients when it comes to fish consumption. Marianne Cufone, executive director of Recirculating Farms Coalition told Good Housekeeping, "There are lots of ways to identify a so-called 'Dirty Dozen' of fish, and it's crucial to be aware of overfishing, pollution, and bycatch." Farm-raised catfish tend to have a diet rich in soy, wheat, and corn, with added minerals and vitamins (via Healthline). Whereas, wild-caught catfish are bottom feeders by nature, eating a diet filled with fish eggs, aquatic plants, possibly other small fish, and algae (per Healthline).

"If there's nothing else to pay attention to, know this: Imported fish are rarely, RARELY inspected for filth (which includes rat and human hair and insects)," says Cufone to Good Housekeeping. The solution: avoid imported catfish. Similarly, another culprit is that most consumers buy fish based on taste, texture, and price, rather than the assumed sustainability efforts of that vendor (via British Columbian Agrifood and Seafood Domestic Consumption Study). Again, be mindful of where the fish comes from. For instance, blue catfish from the U.S. is environmentally friendly, while catfish from Vietnam and China should be skipped, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch.