Is saltwater or freshwater fish more nutritious?

March 13, 2024 | 04:01 pm PT
My family prefers eating saltwater fish since we believe they are safer and more nutritious than freshwater fish. Is this true? (Hoa, 45, Hanoi)


Inhabitants of coastal areas tend to consume more saltwater fish, whereas those living in inland regions frequently opt for freshwater fish. Determining the superior fish variety is challenging, as each type presents distinct nutritional profiles. Generally, a broad comparison reveals that both categories are nutritionally comparable. Nonetheless, saltwater fish typically have a higher calorie content than their freshwater counterparts.

For instance, catfish and basa, among the freshwater varieties, boast the highest calorie levels, with figures spanning from 1,245 to 1,700 calories per kilogram. Conversely, saltwater species like tuna, mackerel, and swordfish lead in energy provision, with their calorie range extending from 1,500 to 23,000 calories per kilogram.

Cooked fish placed on a plate. Illustration photo by Pixabay

Cooked fish placed on a plate. Illustration photo by Pixabay

Given concerns over pollution and aquaculture practices, saltwater fish cultivated in managed settings generally pose fewer health risks than freshwater species. Contaminants such as heavy metals and antibiotic residues may afflict freshwater habitats, impacting the fish therein. Consequently, opting for saltwater fish from reliable sources is recommended.

Individuals with food allergies or sensitivities are advised to exercise caution regarding certain seafood, including squid and tuna, due to the potential for hazardous contaminant exposure.

This advice does not discourage freshwater fish consumption. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of a varied diet. When safe freshwater fish sources are available, incorporating them into your diet can promote health.

Overall, regular fish consumption is highly beneficial for health. Fish are excellent sources of high-quality protein and beneficial fats, which are more digestible than those found in pork or beef. Furthermore, fish surpass meat in essential mineral content, offering a richer and more varied mineral composition.

Dr. Nguyen Duy Thinh

Former member of the Institute of Food Technology and Biotechnology, Hanoi University of Science and Technology

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