If you’re looking for the ultimate high protein healthy food, fish will likely be at the top of your list of potential options.
If you’re a seafood lover, you’ll know that there are plenty of options in terms of fish to choose from, yet some are more popular than others. Fish such as cod, haddock, and salmon are hugely popular and are very common, yet other fish such Basa, which is what we’re looking at today, often get overlooked.
Basa is quite the controversial fish because, despite being very tasty and having numerous health benefits linked to it, some people have found evidence to suggest that Basa could be unhealthy and pose health risks.
It is exported in various countries, and one of the more appealing things about Basa is the fact that because it is so sustainable and readily available, it is seen as an even cheaper alternative to cod, haddock, pollock, coley, and other white fish.
There are plenty of Basa fish benefits which we’ll be looking at later, along with why Basa fish is cheap, and why Basa fish is bad (allegedly). Before that, though, let’s learn more about the origins of this fish.
What is Basa fish?
Some fish, such as mackerel, salmon, cod, haddock, and herring to name but a few, are considered to be the world’s most popular, and others, including Basa are often overlooked and swept aside like a minnow in the ocean.
Basa is a white fish native to Southeast Asia that is a member of the catfish family.
It has a similar texture and taste to cod and haddock, and is therefore used as a cheap alternative because it is so sustainable and readily available, like we mentioned earlier.
Basa belongs to the Pangasiidae family, and its scientific name is Pangasius Bocourti. In the US, where it is very popular, it is often simply known as bocourti, or Basa.
Another name you may have heard Basa being referred to as, is Vietnamese cobbler. You can, therefore, guess where Basa is primarily found. The fish thrive in the Chao Phraya River and the Mekong River, which flow through numerous countries located in Southeast Asia.
Basa fish characteristics
We’ve looked at what is Basa fish, so now allow us to look at some more of the key characteristics of this surprisingly popular fish.
Basa fish are not bony, which instantly makes Basa cheaper and more appealing because there is less preparation required beforehand, and the fish is easier to eat and will be in high demand.
Basa have sturdy frames and small heads, with a firm, slightly pink flesh. The fish also has a mild seafood smell, which makes it appealing for use in restaurants as not everybody enjoys the smell of seafood.
Because of the fact that the flesh is firm and meaty, it appeals to the western palate, plus it can also be cut into thicker chunks and it will hold its shape and texture as a result.
A lot of Indian restaurants have started using Basa fish in their curries because the fish holds its shape in the dish, without becoming flaky and falling apart.
Another characteristic of Basa and one of the main Basa fish benefits that has helped the fish to become more popular over the last several years is the fact that the fish cooks quickly. In the hospitality industry, this is very appealing because it means greater levels of turnover as the fish can be cooked quickly and dishes can be prepared more quickly as a result.
The downside to Basa’s huge popularity is the fact that, as Basa demand has increased, it has proved testing to breed large enough numbers of Basa fish in Vietnam and other parts of the world too.
Basa fish nutritional qualities
Seafood in general is considered very healthy as it is rich in protein, amino acids, and minerals, and can either be low in fat and calories, or rich in healthy fats.
Basa, like other white fishes, is low in calories and is rich in protein.
Typically, one serving is 126 grams and will provide the following:
- 158 calories
- 7 grams of fat
- 22.5 grams of protein
- 2 grams of saturated fat
- 0 grams of carbohydrates
- 73mg of cholesterol
- 89mg of sodium
Because of the fact that the fish is low in calories and only contains 5 g of unsaturated fat per serving, it is often seen as a healthy weight loss boosting fish.
As an added bonus, some of the fats it contains are also omega-3 fatty acids, which work wonders for the heart, the brain, and the body in general.
It should be noted, though, that Basa is not considered an oily fish and so it contains far less beneficial fatty acids than salmon, mackerel, or oily fish. (3)
Basa fish benefits
So, we’ve now familiarized you with this sustainable white fish from Asia, but what is it about Basa that is considered so beneficial?
Here’s a look at several Basa fish benefits for you to consider before stocking up on this fish.
Low in calories
One of the biggest Basa fish benefits we’re going to list for you today is the fact that Basa is low in calories. Okay, it contains some fats, but with one serving providing just 158 calories, it is a very low calorie food that is ideal for people looking to lose weight.
Promotes weight loss
Not only does Basa promote weight loss by being low in calories, it can also help to promote weight loss thanks to its high protein content.
You see, protein is thermogenic, which means that your body actually has to work harder to digest it and break it down than other foods. To work harder, the body needs more energy which it gets from calories.
Not only do you burn more calories by digesting protein, but as it stays in your stomach for longer it promotes satiety levels so you stay full for longer periods of time.
May reduce your risk of heart disease
Heart disease is the world’s biggest killer. Each year it claims more lives than other disease.
Studies have found that people that consume a diet rich in fish are less likely to suffer from heart disease and cardiovascular related issues than people that don’t.
Fish, especially fish rich in fatty acids such as omega-3, helps to reduce LDL cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, and strengthen the heart which in turn will reduce your risk of heart-related issues. Okay, Basa is not as high in fatty acids as salmon, mackerel, or oily fish, but it still contains them.
It is also low in saturated fats so it can help bring down unhealthy cholesterol levels.
May increase longevity
While we never know what’s around the corner, we do know that there are things we can do to increase our longevity and help give us more of a chance of living longer.
A number of studies have found that eating fish on a regular basis will increase your chances of living longer, while also improving the overall quality of your life as well.
Again, the main reason for this is omega-3 fatty acids, and as we’ve already mentioned, Basa does contain them, albeit not as many as other fish.
Provides important minerals for the body
Not only is Basa rich in proteins and amino acids, it also happens to be rich in important trace minerals needed by the body in order for it to function at its best.
As far as what is Basa fish, one of the main benefits of this fish is the fact that it is loaded full of so many important trace minerals needed by the body to perform various functions.
Basa fish contains minerals such as potassium, which helps to balance electrolyte levels in the body and the cells. It’s also rich in iron, which promotes the production of haemoglobin.
Basa also contains an impressive amount of zinc, which helps to boost hormone levels and strengthen the immune system. This in turn means that Basa fish could help you to fight off illness and disease.
Basa is rich in protein
Protein is needed by the body for the growth and repair of muscle tissues. It also promotes cellular health and function. Basa, like other types of fish, provides an impressive amount of protein making it great for the body.
Many bodybuilders and individuals looking to increase their lean muscle mass will add Basa fish to their diets as the protein it provides helps to assist with the growth and the repair of muscle tissue. It also speeds up post-workout recovery too.
Basa contains protein and amino acids needed by the body in order for it to function. In fact, Basa is a complete protein source, which means that it provides all nine essential amino acids. An essential amino acid is one which the body needs, but cannot manufacture by itself.
Is Basa safe to eat? – Why some people think it is bad
As you can see, in terms of what is Basa fish, hopefully now you can see exactly what this awesome fish is and what some of the key benefits are.
Despite this, Basa has received some bad press as of late, as there are individuals out there who consider Basa to be unhealthy.
In reality, if you consume any fish, especially farmed fish, there is the risk that it could contain contaminants in the form of PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) or mercury. If these toxins are allowed to build up and accumulate in your body, they could potentially become toxic.
So, does this mean that Basa is unhealthy? Absolutely not.
Basa does contain some of these compounds, as does other fish, but studies have found that the amounts of contaminants found in Basa are safe, which means that there is no need to worry about any adverse toxic effects.
However. There are concerns that the conditions in which Basa fish are farmed, can affect the overall quality of the fish and potentially make it dangerous for human consumption.
The ponds in which the fish are farmed can be susceptible to contamination.
To control this, farmers use chemicals to control any pathogens or contaminants in the water, and it is these chemicals that could affect the overall quality of the fish.
Research has found that imported fish from Vietnam is more likely to contain excessively high amounts of antibiotics, hormones, and other veterinary drugs, which could pose a risk to human health.
The main way to assure that you’re not at risk here is to opt for wild Basa fish fillets rather than farmed Basa fish.
Why is Basa fish so cheap?
We’ve covered this a few times already, but to go into more detail, Basa is one of the most affordable white fish in existence.
Basa is easy to breed and farm, and there are plenty of Basa fish farms to go around.
Basa is easy to cook, it has a long shelf life, it is appealing to the Western palate, and it is easy to farm, breed, and sustain, and this is all reflected in the price.
Final thoughts on Basa
As you can see, Basa is a popular white fish that is easy to obtain and easy to farm, plus it is also healthy and it tastes good.
If you’re looking for an affordable, low calorie white fish that tastes great and is easy to prepare, skip the tasteless cod and chewy haddock and opt for Basa instead.