Are Bass Fish Healthy to Eat?

The health benefits of sea bass and freshwater bass are plenty. Whether you eat sea or freshwater bass, one serving is low in calories and an excellent source of protein, selenium and essential omega-3 fatty acids.

While both sea bass and freshwater bass are good sources of protein and healthy fats, they also contains mercury. Credit: lovelypeace/iStock/GettyImages

While both types contain the same nutrients, they have varying amounts of some, such as vitamins B12 and B6. Bass does have one downside: it contains mercury. You can still enjoy it, but pregnant women and children should limit the amount they eat.

Tips

While both sea bass and freshwater bass are good sources of protein and healthy fats, they also contains mercury.

Read more: How to Cook Sea Bass in 3 Delicious Ways

Freshwater and Sea Bass Nutrition

Protein is just one of the many health benefits of sea bass and freshwater bass. Sea bass has 16 grams of protein, and freshwater varieties contain 20 grams of protein in a 3-ounce serving, which is 40 percent of the daily value, according to the USDA.

To be sure you get enough protein to meet your body's metabolic needs, the National Academies of Sciences recommends that women get 46 grams daily, while men get 56 grams. You'll get all of this protein for only 105 calories in a 3-ounce serving of sea bass and 124 calories in the same portion of freshwater bass.

Get Your Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Even though bass is low in total fat, both varieties are excellent sources of two omega-3 fatty acids: Eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. These fatty acids help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure and reducing levels of cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent heart disease and stroke, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Sea bass provides 0.65 grams of combined EPA and DHA, while freshwater bass has 0.51 grams in a 3-ounce serving, according to the USDA. One serving supplies 32 to 60 percent of your daily intake, depending on the type you eat and your sex, because men need more than women, according to recommendations from the Institute of Medicine.

Read more: The 9 Safest Seafood Options

Consider Other Nutrients

One important nutrient provided by sea and freshwater bass is selenium. Your body depends on selenium to produce antioxidants and to synthesize thyroid hormones. According to the National Institutes of Health, seafood — such as bass — are one of the best food sources of this nutrient.

Freshwater and sea bass nutrition vary in their vitamin content. For example, sea bass is a rich source of vitamin B6 and contains three times more than you'll get from freshwater bass. However, freshwater bass contains 77 percent more vitamin B12 than sea bass, according to the USDA.

Watch the Mercury

Mercury emitted from industrial facilities lands in bodies of water and results in mercury-contaminated fish, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Consuming mercury is a health concern for everyone, but it's especially critical for pregnant women and young children because mercury interferes with normal development of the nervous system.

Striped and black bass, two freshwater varieties, contain a moderate amount of mercury, which means that vulnerable people can consume six servings or less per month. If you find Chilean sea bass in the store, be aware that it's high in mercury and should be limited to three servings or less per month.

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