Many people enjoy the flavor of catfish, but it offers a variety of health benefits as well. Including the nutritious fish in your diet helps you meet your protein needs and boosts your intake of vitamins and healthy fats and fatty acids. Consider catfish regularly in your meal planning.
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Low in Calories and Fat
A 3-oz. serving of catfish introduces 122 calories and 6.1 g of fat into your diet. The low amount of calories in this fish make it a popular choice for a healthy meal plan – women generally require approximately 300 to 500 calories per meal, and men need around 400 to 600 calories, so it fits in well and allows you to serve several healthy side dishes with it. The fat content is also relatively low, and little of it is saturated fat -- 2 g. Avoid consuming more than 16 to 22 g of saturated fat per day; too much in your diet can trigger health problems.
Contains Healthy Fatty Acids
Eating catfish is a tasty way to boost your intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. One serving of this fish provides 220 mg of omega-3 fatty acids and 875 mg of omega-6. You will not find federal guidelines on the consumption of these fatty acids, although the American Heart Association suggests including fish in your diet several times each week to increase the amount of fatty acids you eat. Both of these nutrients play a part in heart and cognitive health.
Provides Complete Protein
The 15.6 g of protein in a serving of catfish provides you with all of the amino acids your body needs. This high-quality, complete protein helps your body build lean muscle mass, and it also helps improve the effectiveness of your immune function. You may also rely on protein to provide energy, especially if your body has used all of the carbohydrates you have eaten for fuel.
Source of Vitamin B-12
Consume a serving of catfish, and you take in 40 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin B-12. As a B vitamin, the vitamin B-12 in catfish is critical to aiding your body in the breakdown of the foods you eat into usable energy, but this vitamin has other functions as well. Without enough vitamin B-12 in your diet, your nerve function suffers, and you might become lethargic.
Low in Mercury
Almost all fish contains mercury, a contaminant that may impact your nervous system, but you may safely eat catfish unless the waters in which it is caught are particularly high in mercury. The Environmental Protection Agency lists catfish as one of the mostly commonly consumed, low-mercury fish. Despite this, limiting your consumption of fish to 12 oz. per week is recommended to decrease your exposure. This is especially important if you are pregnant, since high levels of mercury may harm your fetus.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Linus Pauling Institute; Essential Fatty Acids; J. Higdon, Ph.D., et al.; April 2009
- Medline Plus; Protein in Diet; July 2009
- McKinley Health Center; Macronutrients: The Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat; March 2008
- Medline Plus: B Vitamins
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamin); June 2009
- Environmental Protection Agency; What You Need to Know about Mercury in Fish and Shellfish; May 2011