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Although it has a Southeast Asian origin, Basa fish has become crazily popular worldwide. This is because it is not only cheap but rich in high-quality protein. Still, its safety is a concern.

Basa fish is a type of white fish originally from Southeast Asia. Nonetheless, it has become popular, with many countries importing it than ever. This is because there are many advantages to eating this white fish, including its high-protein content and low calorific value. As such, it is quite filling even in lean portions and leaves you not worrying about unnecessary weight gain. Still, this fish has health concerns, mainly surrounding its growing and harvesting practices. With recent studies confirming that Basa fish from Vietnam does not meet safety standards and may be high in dangerous chemicals, there is a need for you to keep portions of this fish low and cook it properly to lower chemical biomagnification. Keep reading to know all you need to know about Basa fish and its safety.

Understanding Basa fish

First things first, we need to know what Basa fish is before looking at the minor details about its health benefits and potential dangers. As mentioned at the outset, this is a type of white fish with a Southeast Asian origin. It is a catfish belonging to the Pangasiidae family and has Pangasius borcoti as its scientific name. In the US, Basa fish is commonly referred to as borcoti or pangasius. In the rest of the world, names such as pangasius, river cobbler, swai, and Vietnamese cobbler are used when referring to Basa fish.

Chao Phraya and Mekong are two Southeast Asian rivers that run through many countries and are associated with Basa fish, mostly found here. This explains why Basa fish can be found in different countries, with Vietnam topping the list.

Basa fish has gained worldwide popularity and are among the fish sold as boneless fillets. Are you wondering why? The primary reason is how nutritionally rich this fish is. It is low in calories but high in high-quality protein. Besides, it is also rich in omega- 3 fatty acids that the body needs for brain development and lower the risk of heart diseases.

Furthermore, Basa fish tastes more like cod and haddock fish. These are highly valued fish but are quite expensive, and not everyone can afford them. Thankfully, a cheaper alternative, Basa fish, is readily available. Not only is it affordable, but a suitable alternative because it tastes more like cod and haddock and also has the same texture and flavor. As the demand for more Basa fish rises, more has to be harvested. This is why there are many pens around River Mekong where Basa fish are reared.

Basa fish: the nutritional profile

Nutritionists, dietitians, and food technologists rely a lot on the nutritional profile to gauge how useful any food is to the body. We do the same for Basa fish to determine its value for the body. Admittedly, there is a lot to admire about this white fish when exploring its nutritional profile. For instance, look at the breakdown below, showing the nutritional composition of a 145 g (4.5 ounces) piece of Basa fish:

The breakdown clearly shows that Basa fish is indeed high in protein and quite low on calories. Besides, it is also low in carbs (0 g in the 145 g piece of Basa fish), making it ideal for those dieting and going slow on carbs. Additionally, its composition is good for lean muscle builders who need more proteins. As if that’s not enough, Basa fish is rich in unsaturated fats (5 g in the 145 g piece), and this weight includes omega- 3 fatty acids. These fats are important for growth and development, brain function, and reduced risk of heart disease.

Health benefits of taking Basa fish

Basa fish is nutritionally rich, and this reciprocates in the body of a person taking it. Here are some of the health perks of taking Basa fish:

  • Longevity/boosted life spans

There are no clinical studies that confirm that taking Basa fish increases a person’s life span. However, some observational studies relate longevity to eating fish (including Basa fish). For instance, one such study revealed that people with higher omega- 3 levels (such ones are assumed to take more oily fish) can live two years longer than their fellows with low omega- 3 fats. Remember that observational studies only draw relations but do not study causes and other factors.

  • Reduced heart disease risk

The other perk to eating Basa fish has to do with reduced heart disease risk. Although the exact relationship between oily fish and the latter has not been established, studies confirm that this relationship is true. Some suppose that taking lean pieces of fish lowers cholesterol levels, lowering heart disease risk. Still, there is a need for further studies to state things clearer.

  • A good source of high-quality protein

Fish are among the best protein sources. Basa fish, for example, provides the body with about 22.5 g of protein from its 145 g piece. What’s more, this protein comes with a low-calorie count. As such, you need not worry about gaining weight as you eat this fish.

Basa fish is undoubtedly good fish, and it is rich nutritionally. However, consuming this fish comes with some risks, including;

As a mitigating practice for the above concerns, WHO advises keeping Basa fish portions low. Besides, ensure that you cook the fish properly to kill the dangerous bacteria. Additionally, avoid eating the fish raw or when undercooked.


Basa fish is a white fish from rivers Mekong and Cheo Phraya in Southeast Asia. It is high in proteins and low in calories and carbs, making it ideal for dieting individuals. However, its consumption is related to exposure to chemicals, antibiotics, heavy metals, and the dangerous vibrio bacterium. Cooking the fish properly, avoiding raw or under cooked fish, and keeping Basa fish proportions low help lower these risks.

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Monika Wassermann is a doctor and a freelance writer based in the UK who lives with her cat Buddy. She writes across several verticals, including life, health, sex and love, relationships and fitness. Her three great loves are Victorian novels, Lebanese cuisine, and vintage markets. When she’s not writing, you can find her trying to meditate more, weightlifting, or wandering around in town.

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