There are numerous health benefits associated with eating certain types of wild-caught fish. A variety of seafood choices provide ample amounts of protein and healthy fats such as omega-3s to help build muscle.
Unfortunately, fishes are often extremely expensive, which is why consumers are likely to opt for less expensive alternatives like swai fish.
Because of its lower cost, many people are flocking to swai fish, but it has several significant problems. The cost of Swai fish per pound might be low (like $2 per pound), but the cost to your health could be much higher.
The taste and cost are both very good. In the last couple of decades, it has become more widely available and popular in the US and it’s usually imported from Vietnam.
The majority of people who eat this fish may not be aware of the issues associated with its production on crowded fish farms.
The purpose of this article is to inform you about swai fish, its nutritional value and some facts about this fish so that you can decide if it is something that you should eat or avoid.
What Is Swai Fish?
SWAI is the sixth most popular fish in the United States, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (1).
Swai fish has a mild flavor and a flaky texture that makes them ideal for frying. it can easily be flavored with other ingredients (2).
Known as a type of catfish, it originates from Vietnamese rivers and is a freshwater species. It is also known as Vietnamese catfish, striped catfish, sutchi, iridescent shark, and basa fish; it does neither belong to a basa nor a shark family.
The Problem With Swai Fish
A large portion of the world’s freshwater fish farming is conducted in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam.
It has led to the near-extinction of wild swai fish today due to aggressive overfishing. It is being widely cultivated in large-scale, overcrowded fish farms in Vietnam. Then they are exported to the USA and the rest of the world.
Despite its widespread marketing as a fish that is grown in rivers, the Swai is often raised in fish farms.
There is a problem not only because the fishes are inhumanely treated in overcrowded fish farms, but because those farms lack proper health regulations that the world follows, which we are used to and feel comfortable with.
Before 2003, Swai used to be sold and imported to the US as a type of catfish. The FDA passed a law in 2003, and today, only American catfish are able to be labelled as catfish. Certain states, such as Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, where the catfish trade is a big business, but prohibit imports and sales of Swai fish.
Also Read: 15 Health Benefits of Golden Kiwi
Swai Fish – Nutritional Facts
It is generally recommended to eat fish, as it provides lean protein and omega-3 fats, both of which are necessary for a healthy heart.
Compared to other common fish, swai contains an average amount of protein, but it offers very little omega-3 fat. A 4-ounce (110 grams) fillet of swai provides(3):
|Omega-3 Fat||11 milligrams|
|Niacin||14% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)|
|Selenium||26% of the RDI|
|Vitamin B12||19% of the RDI|
Besides providing high levels of selenium, Swai is also a good source of niacin and vitamin B12. The amount will vary according to what the fishes are fed (4).
Swai Fish Benefits
It is recommended to eat fish or shellfish at least twice a week by both the American Heart Association and the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020-2025).
The cardiovascular system and brain are better protected by fatty seafood because it has a high omega-3 content.
However, any type of seafood can be included under this “twice a week” rule. Besides that, other fish are also high in nutritional value (as they contain more minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants).
Here are some of the health benefits of consuming swai fish:
- Fish consumption has been found to lower heart disease risk and improve brain health in numerous studies.
- Those who are trying to cut back on calories might also find Swai to be a good option.
- Compared to other protein sources like beef or pork, swai fish has a much lower calorie count, but provides your body with the ability to build muscle, produce hormones, and produce enzymes.
What Does Swai Fish Taste Like?
This mild fish is a delightful combination of sweetness and mildness. Swai’s flesh is tender and flaky once cooked, making it more approachable to the palate than its cousin, the catfish.
Although swai fish is similar to catfish in terms of flavor and texture, it is more delicate overall.
Is It Safe to Eat Swai Fish?
It is still debatable whether eating Swai is safe, as it has a reputation as being of low quality.
Here are reasons why you may want to reconsider eating swai fish if you have any concerns:
1. Cultivated in Fish Farms
Is swai fish safe to eat? No, is the simple answer. The reason for this is not the quality of the nutrition, but the standard of how the swai is raised and fed.
It is incorrect to automatically label farmed fish as unhealthy. Factory-farmed fish in Vietnam, however, are usually filled with wastewater and sludge. There may be bacteria and antibiotic residues present.
Similarly, swai fish are reported to contain trace elements and heavy metals due to their surroundings.
2. May Contain Diseases and Infectants
Several diseases can be contracted from this fish because of their questionable quality and uninspected conditions.
Parasitic, bacterial, and Sporozoa infections and infestations are among the most common diseases.
3. Food Fraud (Mislabelling)
Importers of seafood to the United States began purchasing Vietnamese catfish in 1994. Although many of what is sold as basa fish on the market today is not real basa.
Swai fish is usually used, which are considered less valuable and less nutritional than basa fish. The texture of swai, which is called tra, is coarser and grainier than that of basas. The skin appears thinner and more beige as well.
Swai are sometimes marketed as catfish or grouper by the restaurant industry in a fraudulent manner. Considering the relative cheapness of swai compared to more expensive fish, restaurants opt for swai.
Healthier Alternatives To Swai Fish & Precautions
The best brands of Swai fish are those which have certifications issued by independent organizations or agencies that issue eco-certified products.
On the packaging, you should find the logo of the agency. Foods with this certification have been tested to determine whether they pose less of a threat to the climate or to the environment.
You should avoid eating it raw to remain safe. Cook to a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit when broiling or grilling the fish. Using this method will kill and eliminate any potentially harmful bacteria from the food.
There are a variety of excellent Swai fish alternatives available if you want to avoid eating it altogether. Fish that have white flesh are a good choice, such as wild-caught catfish.
Salmons, sardines, anchovies, herrings, freshwater trout, and Pacific oysters are good choices if you are looking for fish with a high Omega-3 content and low mercury content.
Changing the fish you eat regularly is recommended for best results in regards to your health and wellbeing. Include a variety of fishes over just one type to avoid being exposed to potentially harmful contaminants.
Swai Fish Alternatives: here are a few common choices,
- Atlantic salmon
- Rainbow Trout
Easy & Tasty Swai Fish Recipe – Chili Lime Swai Fillets
It takes a mere 10 minutes to prepare these swai fillets. I can’t believe how fast that is! I’d rather do that than decide where to order takeout from.
Swai can simply be cooked in a skillet with a little oil and seasoning of your choice. Tacos made with these Chili Lime Swai Fillets would be amazing. Additionally, they are easy to put together a meal around when accompanied by salad, fries, rice, quinoa, beans, etc.
This swai recipe is perfect for weeknights when you don’t have the time or energy to cook anything more detailed.
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