Is Farm-Raised Catfish Good for You?

Fried catfish
Farm-raised catfish helps you consume more vitamin B-12. (Image: badmanproduction/iStock/Getty Images)

Eating fish not only adds variety to your diet, but also significantly boosts your nutrient intake. Farm-raised catfish offers an impressive nutritional profile, including vitamins, protein and minerals that help promote healthy tissue function, which makes it a smart addition to a balanced diet. It's also low in mercury, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, it contains less healthy fat than wild catfish, so opting for farm-raised over wild means you'll miss out on some health benefits.

Calories and Protein

Catfish serves as a moderate source of calories -- each 6-ounce serving of farmed catfish, measured raw, contains 202 calories, or slightly more than 10 percent of your daily intake based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Each portion contains 25.9 grams of protein, a nutrient your body uses to maintain healthy eyes, strengthen your bones and skin, and produce hormones such as insulin. Because it contains all the essential amino acids -- ones your cells can't produce on their own -- catfish counts as a complete protein. This gives it a leg up on many plant sources of protein, such as nuts and grains, that are typically deficient in one or more essential amino acids.

Phosphorus and Magnesium

Eating farmed catfish also benefits your health by providing magnesium and phosphorus. Your cells and tissues use magnesium to help make new DNA, and also rely on magnesium to contribute to healthy bone tissue. The phosphorus in farmed catfish also nourishes your bones, and it maintains healthy cell membranes. A 6-ounce portion of farmed catfish offers 32 milligrams of magnesium and 347 milligrams of phosphorus. This makes up 10 percent of the daily magnesium intake set for women and 8 percent for men, as well as half the daily phosphorus intake for all adults, as established by the Institute of Medicine.

B-Complex Vitamins

Adding farm-raised catfish to your diet also increases your intake of several B-complex vitamins. Together, these nutrients help maintain the health of your eyes and skin, and also support your metabolism by aiding in energy production. A serving of catfish contains 4.7 micrograms of vitamin B-12 -- your entire daily intake -- as well as 3.6 milligrams of niacin -- 26 and 23 percent of the daily niacin intakes established for women and men, respectively, as set by the Institute of Medicine. Vitamin B-12 aids in the growth of red blood cells, while niacin supports healthy digestion and promotes nerve health.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Each 6-ounce portion of farmed catfish contains 0.13 gram of omega-3 fatty acids, while an equivalent serving of wild catfish contains 0.62 gram. Your body needs to obtain omega-3 fats from your diet, and it relies on them to support cardiovascular health, regulate inflammation and promote healthy brain function. As a result, wild catfish offers greater heath benefits than its farmed counterpart, and you should choose wild catfish when it's available.

Cholesterol

Farm-raised catfish also contains a moderate amount of cholesterol -- 94 milligrams per serving. This makes up 31 percent of the 300-milligram limit recommended for the general public by the American Heart Association, or 47 percent of the 200-milligram limit for people with high cholesterol or heart disease.

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