Catfish provides a low-calorie source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids as long as you bake or broil it instead of preparing it with cream sauces, butter and other garnishes that add fat and calories. One cooked fillet has 220 calories, meaning that this dish has fewer calories than most red meats. If you want to reduce your intake of calories and saturated fat, try replacing ground beef or steak with fish at least once per week.
One serving of catfish contains 10 g of fat. For someone following a 2,000-calorie diet, this represents approximately 15 percent of the recommended daily intake for fat. The same serving size has only 2 g of saturated fat, making catfish a better alternative to meats with high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol. If you bake or broil the catfish and serve low-fat side dishes, like steamed broccoli and brown rice, you can keep the fat content of this meal to a minimum.
Protein provides a source of energy that lasts longer than the energy from carbohydrates. The functions of protein in the human body include building muscle, repairing damaged tissues, keeping the hair and skin healthy and transporting nutrients. One serving of catfish has 27 g of protein, making catfish a high-protein food. Adult women need approximately 46 g of protein per day, while adult men need approximately 56 g of protein per day. This means catfish provides over half of the dietary required intake required by women and 48 percent of the DRI for men.
Vitamins and Minerals
Catfish contains several vitamins and minerals essential for good health. One fillet contains 8 percent of the recommended daily value (DV) for iron, 10 percent of the DV for zinc, 6 percent of the DV for riboflavin, 10 percent of the DV for magnesium, 4 percent of the DV for folate, 35 percent of the DV for phosphorus, 70 percent of the DV for vitamin B12, 2 percent of the DV for vitamin C, 40 percent of the DV for thiamin and 10 percent of the DV for vitamin B6. Catfish does not contain calcium or vitamin A.
Dietary fiber aids in digestion and reduces the risk of heart disease. Catfish does not contain any dietary fiber, so you should look to other food sources for this important nutrient. High-fiber foods include almonds, whole-grain bread, apples, bananas, sunflower seeds, broccoli, pecans, sweet corn and whole-grain spaghetti.
Some medical professionals are concerned about the high levels of omega-6 fatty acids in catfish. While omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and have several other health benefits, omega-6 fatty acids actually increase inflammation. Jennifer Nelson, a registered dietitian at the Mayo Clinic, explains that the idea of choosing a fish based on omega-6 content may be flawed. Her advice is to include a variety of fish in your diet. The high omega-3 levels in salmon and tuna should balance out the high omega-6 levels in catfish.
Mayo Clinic: Catfish and Tilapia: Healthy or Harmful?
Nutrient Facts: Catfish Nutrition Facts