There are many reasons to appreciate catfish nutrition. If you eat fish regularly, you may have a lower risk of developing heart disease, among other health conditions.
The American Heart Association recommends consuming at least two 3.5-ounce servings of fish, like catfish, each week. Choose catfish farmed in the United States whenever possible, as farmed catfish is harvested in an environmentally friendly manner and is low in contaminants such as mercury.
Pregnant women should avoid consuming locally caught catfish without first checking with advisories about the safety of local seafood.
Read more: Fish Oil Dosage for Adults
Health Benefits of Catfish Nutrition
According to the USDA, there are 127.5 plain catfish calories in a 3-ounce serving, 19 of which are contributed by fat. Per serving, catfish has 6.4 grams of total fat, which includes 0.5 grams of saturated fat and a trace amount of trans fat. This size serving also contains 58.8 milligrams of cholesterol, a waxy fat-like substance. Catfish is also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA.
According to the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, EPA supports muscle function, cell health, digestion, hormone function and blood clotting. DHA is important for brain health. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease overall death rates from any cause, and help prevent heart attack, heart tissue damage and sudden death. These healthy fats also help lower blood sugar levels.
Protein in Catfish
Catfish does not contain any carbohydrates, but there is a good amount of protein in catfish. Approximately 50 percent of the total caloric content of a 3-ounce serving of cooked catfish is contributed by protein. Consuming 3 ounces of catfish supplies you with 16.3 grams of protein.
According to the National Academies of Sciences, adult males need 56 grams of protein per day while women need 46 grams. This amount fulfills 29 percent of the daily protein requirement for a man and 35 percent of a woman's protein needs per day.
Consider the Vitamins and Minerals
Catfish is an excellent source of vitamin B12. Every 3-ounce serving contains 2.6 micrograms of vitamin B12 — 100 percent of the 2.4 microgram requirement for adult men and women, according to the National Academies of Sciences. Catfish is also rich in the B vitamins, niacin and pantothenic acid.
With 1.9 milligrams of niacin per serving, catfish supplies 9 percent of the daily recommended dietary allowance of niacin for men and 8 percent of the RDA for women.
Catfish contains 196.5 milligrams of phosphorus in a 3-ounce serving, fulfilling 28 percent of an adult's RDA of the mineral. Catfish contains smaller amounts of potassium, copper, magnesium, iron and zinc.
Healthy Preparation Suggestions
Frying is a traditional preparation method for catfish fillets. However, to keep your total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol intake as low as possible, grill, broil or bake your catfish instead.
Drizzle the fish with a mono- or polyunsaturated oil like olive or canola oil and choose low-sodium seasoning options such as fresh herbs, spices or lemon juice to avoid consuming too much salt. Pair catfish with cooked whole grains like brown rice or couscous, steamed fresh vegetables and a leafy green salad.
- American Heart Association: "Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids"
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: "Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Health"
- National Academies of Sciences: "Macronutrients"
- National Academies of Sciences: "Vitamins and Minerals"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Catfish, Steamed or Poached"
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 fatty acids
- The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide: The truth about fats: bad and good