Swai Fish: Why Is Swai Fish Bad For You?

swai fish

Hello, health lovers! Have you ever seen swai fish passing through the grocery store gallery and wondered, “Is it a health hero or a nutrition zero?”

In this blog post, we will learn about what is swai fish, its nutritional value, and its benefits.

What is Swai Fish?

Swai fish, also known as Pangasius hypophthalmus. It is a type of freshwater catfish native to the Mekong River in Southeast Asia. It’s a popular seafood choice due to its mild flavor, flaky texture, and affordability.

Swai fish has a silver-gray body with a slightly iridescent sheen. It has two dark stripes running along its sides. It typically grows to about 12-18 inches in length.

Taste and texture:

It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor that absorbs the flavors of seasonings and sauces well.

It has a firm, flaky texture that’s similar to cod or tilapia.

Other names

It is also known as:

  • Basa
  • Rainbow shark
  • Vietnamese Catfish
  • River Cobbler
  • Panga

Swai Fish Nutrition Facts

People eat fish because it is a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fats and lean protein.

Now, when it comes to Swai fish, it’s a bit of a mixed affair. Yes, it provides a good amount of lean protein, but in terms of omega-3, it’s not exactly breaking records.

The nutrition facts of a 4-ounce (113-gram) raw dose of swai fish:

  • Calories: 70
  • Fat: 1.5 grams (0.5 grams saturated, 0 grams trans)
  • Cholesterol: 45 milligrams
  • Sodium: 350 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams (0 grams fiber, 0 grams sugar)
  • Protein: 15 grams
  • Vitamins:
    • Vitamin A: 1% of the RDI
    • Vitamin C: 0% of the RDI
    • Vitamin D: 0% of the RDI
    • Vitamin B6: 10% of the RDI
    • Vitamin B12: 19% of the RDI
  • Thiamin: 2% of the RDI
  • Riboflavin: 5% of the RDI
  • Niacin: 14% of the RDI
  • Pantothenic acid: 5% of the RDI
  • Folate: 2% of the RDI
  • Choline: 9% of the RDI
  • Minerals:
    • Calcium: 1% of the RDI
    • Iron: 2% of the RDI
    • Magnesium: 2% of the RDI
    • Phosphorus: 14% of the RDI
    • Potassium: 11% of the RDI
    • Selenium: 26% of the RDI
    • Zinc: 4% of the RDI

Also Read: What Is Masago And How To Store Smelt Roe.

Is it safe to eat swai fish?

is it safe to eat swai fish

No, it is not safe to eat it. This is not due to nutritional aspects but due to its specific rearing and farming methods.

So what exactly makes it a questionable choice for your dishes?

Why is swai fish bad for you?

Here are the reasons why some people consider it bad:

1. Antibiotic Use.

Swai farms in Vietnam often use excessive antibiotics to prevent disease in crowded conditions. This raises concerns about antibiotic resistance in humans who consume farmed swai.

2. Presence of Mercury.

While generally within safe limits, swai may have higher mercury levels than some other fish, particularly for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children.

3. Mislabeling.

Swai is sometimes mislabeled as other types of fish, making it hard to know exactly what you’re eating and hindering informed choices.

4. Water Pollution.

Wastewater from densely packed swai farms can pollute rivers and contribute to environmental degradation.

5. Sustainability.

Some swai farming practices lack sustainability certifications, raising concerns about resource management and ecological impact.

6. Mediocre Nutritional Profile.

Despite being a source of lean protein, swai lacks the rich omega-3 fatty acids found in many other fish varieties.

7. High Sodium Content.

Some swai products, especially processed ones, can be high in sodium, which may be a concern for those on sodium-restricted diets.

Swai Fish Benefits

It can offer some benefits, though it’s important to consider them alongside potential downsides before making it a regular part of your diet. Here are some of the benefits:

1. Protein Powerhouse.

Swai is a rich source of lean protein, which is essential for muscle growth and repair. Raw fish contain about 15 grams of protein per 4-ounce (113-gram) serving.

2. It improves heart health.

Despite having lower omega-3 levels than fatty fish like salmon, it still benefits heart health. The same 4-ounce portion contains about 11 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, taking supplements rich in omega-3 reduces the risk of serious heart problems.

3. Nutritional benefits.

Good source of lean protein: Swai provides around 18 grams of protein per 100-gram serving, essential for building and maintaining muscle mass.

4. It is Low in fat and calories.

With only 1.77 grams of fat and 88 calories per serving, swai can be a good choice for weight management or low-fat diets.

5. It contains essential vitamins and minerals.

Swai provides decent amounts of vitamin B12, niacin, selenium, phosphorus, and potassium, vital for various bodily functions.

How to Select and Cook Swai Fish Safely?

Choosing and cooking swai fish safely requires considering both health and quality aspects.

Here is how you can do this:


  1. Look for sustainability certifications: Choose swai certified by organizations like the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) or Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) to ensure responsible farming practices.
  2. Inspect the fish: Fresh swai should have firm, bright flesh with clear eyes and no off odors. Avoid slimy or discolored fish.
  3. Check the label: Be aware of potential mislabeling. Ensure the label says “swai” or its other names (“pangasius,” “basa,” or “tra”).
  4. Limit purchases from Vietnam: The majority of farmed swai comes from Vietnam, where concerns about antibiotic use and environmental impact are higher. Consider opting for alternative fish sources if available.


  1. Proper internal temperature: Ensure the internal temperature reaches 145°F (63°C) to kill any harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer for accurate measurement.
  2. Cooking methods: Baking, grilling, pan-frying, and poaching are all suitable methods. Avoid overcooking, as swai tends to dry out easily.
  3. Marinades and seasonings: Marinades can add flavor and help prevent dryness. Seasonings like lemon, herbs, and spices enhance the taste.

Also Read: 5 Delicious Smelt Roe Recipes.

How to store swai fish?

Storing swai fish safely depends on its state when you buy it:

Fresh Swai:

  • Refrigerate: Store fresh swai in the coldest part of your refrigerator for up to 2 days. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container to prevent drying and off-odors.
  • Freeze: For longer storage, freeze swai within 2 days of purchase. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or freezer paper, then place it in a sealed freezer bag or container to prevent freezer burn. Frozen swai will keep for up to 3 months.

Frozen Swai:

  • Thaw in the refrigerator: The safest way to thaw frozen swai is in the refrigerator. Place it on a plate or in a bowl to catch any drippings. Allow 24-48 hours for thawing, depending on the thickness of the fish.
  • Thaw under cold running water: For faster thawing, you can place the frozen swai in a leak-proof bag and submerge it in cold running water. Change the water every 30 minutes. This method should thaw the fish within 1-2 hours.
  • Never thaw at room temperature: This can promote bacterial growth and make the fish unsafe to eat.

Cooked Swai:

  • Refrigerate: Store leftover cooked swai in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze: Cooked swai can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Let it cool before placing it in an airtight container or freezer bag.

General tips

  1. Always check the “use by” or “sell by” date on the packaging and adhere to it.
  2. Discard any swai that has an off odor, discolored flesh, or slimy texture.
  3. Use thawed swai within 1-2 days for optimal freshness and flavor.
  4. When reheating cooked swai, ensure it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to kill any harmful bacteria.

The Bottom line

Swai fish is a type of catfish that has a mild flavor and flaky texture. It may be an excellent source of protein, selenium, vitamin B12, and phosphorus. Meanwhile, it also contains high concentrations of pollutants like antibiotics and hormones that are bad for your health.

Swai fish must be carefully selected, cooked to perfection, stored correctly, and consumed in moderation if you want to enjoy it safely.

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