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Swai Fish: Is It A Healthier Seafood Choice?

Swai fish is a lean source of protein that is highly versatile in the kitchen. It also contains small amounts of selenium and other nutrients, but overall, there are more nutritious fish you could eat. Keep reading to learn more about Swai fish.

What is swai fish?

Image Credit: Pradeep717 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Swai fish is a mild-tasting freshwater fish native to Southeast Asia. It’s mostly farmed in Vietnam and then sold all over the world. It has become increasingly popular in the US food scene in the last decade.

Frying swai fish is very popular in the Western world because the protein becomes light and flakey. However, this method isn’t the healthiest. Leaner, more health-conscious ways of preparing the fish include grilling, baking, broiling, or poaching.

Catfish vs swai

For a long time, biologists considered swai fish to be a distant cousin to American catfish. However, swai fish have been declared a different breed in recent years. This information is important because sometimes swai fish is mislabeled as “Vietnamese catfish,” which isn’t accurate and may confuse consumers trying to avoid eating catfish.

Swai fish taste

Generally, consumers who enjoy eating other light white fish, like grouper, cod, or sole, will probably enjoy swai fish, too.

Swai fish has a mild taste that awaits your culinary creativity. To increase its flavor and appeal, it needs a wow factor. So, dress it with your favorite seasonings, such as spicy chilis, ground earthy flavors, or bright citrus, before cooking. The sky is the limit for how you want to prepare this dish.

Swai fish nutrition facts

A 4oz serving of swai fish has:

  • 19g of protein
  • 5g of fat
  • 13mg of calcium
  • 385mg of potassium

It also contains some selenium and vitamin B12. Overall, swai fish isn’t the most nutritionally dense protein option you could eat.

Once in a while, it’s fine, but you may get more health benefits by eating fish with higher levels of omega-3, which are proven to support health and reduce inflammation. Examples include salmon, trout, mackerel, and herring.

The nutrition facts have been pulled from the USDA nutrient database.

Swai fish benefits

Image Credit: Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Swai fish has some nutritional benefits, but most people choose it because it’s highly versatile, easy to eat, and more affordable than other animal proteins. It’s also readily available (fresh or frozen) at most grocery stores, making it an easy protein to include in your weekly food shopping.

Swai fish farm

Image Credit: Alpha - Flickr: Basa fish - Vinh Long Market, CC BY-SA 2.0,

As mentioned above, swai fish farms are mostly found in Vietnam. Like many fish farms, there is speculation about the care and quality of the environment in which the fish are raised.

Some European reports have found high bacterial levels in imported swai fish. Therefore, it isn’t surprising to learn that antibiotics are commonly administered to swai fish to combat high bacteria levels. Unfortunately, the drugs leave high residue levels in swai fish, which consumers are wary of ingesting.

If farming regulations were better enforced we might see improvements in the quality of fish farming practices worldwide.

The bottom line

Swai fish is a lean white fish with a mild flavor. It doesn’t have a robust nutritional profile, and you could be better off eating other types of nutrient-dense fish, including salmon, trout, mackerel, or herring.

There isn’t a guideline on how much swai fish is safe to consume per week, but it’s always best to practice moderation and limit your intake to one or two servings per week.


Is swai fish healthy?

Swai fish is a lean source of protein, but it offers few nutritional benefits. While it’s okay to enjoy it once in a while, you should choose more nutrient-dense options in the future.

Is swai fish the same as tilapia?

Swai fish is not the same as tilapia. Although they’re both freshwater fish, they are different species.

What is swai fish?

Swai fish is a freshwater fish found in Southeast Asia. It has a mild flavor similar to cod or grouper and is usually imported from fish farms in Vietnam.

Julia Zakrzewski

Julia Zakrzewski is a Registered Dietitian and a lifelong foodie. Her passions include eating great food, debunking nutrition myths, and educating people on how they can improve their health! Her specific interests include diabetes and cardiovascular health. In her spare time Julia teaches yoga, and walks her miniature schnauzer.

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