Is Catfish Healthy? Nutrients, Benefits, and More

Is Catfish Healthy?

Nutrients, Benefits, and More

Nutrient Profile: Fatty Acids (Fats)

Fatty acids are long chains of carbon atoms linked together with hydrogen bonds. They provide essential fatty acid functions such as maintaining cell membrane structure, making hormones, regulating blood sugar levels and hormone secretion, controlling body temperature and energy production. Fatty acids are found in all living organisms and play vital roles in human health.

The most common types of fats are monounsaturated (omega-6), polyunsaturated (omega-3) and saturated fatty acids (omega-9). Monounsaturates include oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, stearidonic acid and myristoyl alcohol. Polyunsaturates include alpha-linolenic acid, gamma-linolenic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. Saturated fatty acids include arachidonic acid, cis-18:1n7 and trans 18:2n3.

Fatty acids can be sourced from animals, fish, plants and oils. Fish and other sea foods contain high amounts of essential fatty acids which is where the human body can’t produce all it needs. These are called ‘essential’ because they are vital to our health.

As a side note, humans can’t produce essential amino acids such as tryptophan and lysine either.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Eating Catfish?

Catfish contains high amounts of the essential fatty acids known as linoleic acid and a-linolenic acid. These are both necessary for maintaining the health of our cell membranes. The cell membrane controls what goes in and out of a cell, so it is vital to maintain these structures. Without them, the cell would die.

Catfish also contains high amounts of vitamin B12 which helps keep nerve and blood cells healthy and aids red blood cell formation.

These fatty acids also help keep our immune system strong. They do this by helping to produce certain substances such as leukotrienes, prostaglandins and thromboxanes. These all play vital roles in the inflammation response of the body.

Too little of these essential fatty acids can lead to diseases such as dermatitis, cardiovascular disease, ulcers and cystic fibrosis in extreme cases. The recommended daily intake for these essential fatty acids is 1-1.5g for an average adult.

What Are The Negative Effects Of Eating Catfish?

Too much consumption of any food is bad for your health so it’s best to keep the intake of catfish to a moderate level.

However, there are some negative effects of eating too much fish in general. Large amounts of fish can cause high cholesterol, which may lead to cardiovascular disease. Pregnant women and children should avoid certain types of fish due to high levels of mercury. Fish can also contain high levels of dioxins, which are carcinogenic.


Catfish themselves don’t cause allergic reactions, but the food they eat might. Certain pesticides and fungicides used on fruit and veg can cause rashes, congestion and itching.

How Do You Prepare Catfish?

Catfish doesn’t need any special preparation, but it does need to be cleaned before cooking. The head, guts and scales all need to be removed. You can do this by cutting the fish open along its underside and scooping out the innards with your hands or a spoon. Then rinse it under cold water. Finally, pat it dry with kitchen roll and it’s ready to cook!

How Do You Cook Catfish?

You can cook whole catfish by applying spices and herbs, wrapping it in foil and putting it in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 180ºC. Alternatively, you could deep-fry or pan-fry the catfish.

Hints And Tips

Whole catfish works well with lemon, garlic and pepper. Another alternative is to coat the fish in a mixture of flour, salt and pepper before cooking.

Sources & references used in this article:

Nutritional considerations and benefits associated with consumption of catfish in South–West Nigeria by OE Oyewole, AM Amosu – Ann. Biol. Res, 2012 –

Value of fiber in production‐type diets for channel catfish by DF Leary, RT Lovell – Transactions of the American Fisheries …, 1975 – Wiley Online Library

The levels of mercury, methylmercury and selenium and the selenium health benefit value in grey-eel catfish (Plotosus canius) and giant mudskipper … by LJ Looi, AZ Aris, H Haris, FM Yusoff, Z Hashim – Chemosphere, 2016 – Elsevier

Evaluation of probiotic Bacillus aerius B81e isolated from healthy hybrid catfish on growth, disease resistance and innate immunity of Pla-mong Pangasius bocourti by R Meidong, K Khotchanalekha… – Fish & shellfish …, 2018 – Elsevier

Effect of catfish and salmon diet on platelet phospholipid and blood clotting in healthy men by CC Akoh, JO Hearnsberger – The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 1991 – Elsevier

Dietary palm oil level affects growth performance, protein retention and tissue vitamin E concentration of African catfish, Clarias gariepinus by PK Lim, PL Boey, WK Ng – Aquaculture, 2001 – Elsevier