August is National Catfish Month

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Growing up near the Pee Dee river, I have often heard stories of the legendary catfish that inhabited the waters. Some are said to be a large as the iconic Volkswagen Beetles. In honor of all catfish tales, let’s celebrate National Catfish Month.

On August 1, 2013, congress designated the month of August as National Catfish Month. This honor is in recognition of the many catfish farmers in America. In the United States, most catfish farms are family owned and operated. Many of the farms have been in the families for as many as three generations. Catfish raised on U.S. farms are often called “All-America fish” because they are 100% raised in the states. Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas are home to many of our country’s catfish farms.

Like other fish, there are health benefits to eating catfish, however, like other edible creatures, the nutrition levels of catfish can vary based on whether it is wild or farmed. According to the USDA, while the protein and minerals are similar, there are differences in vitamin content. One filet of wild catfish provides 199 % of the daily value of vitamin D, while farmed catfish offers none. On the other hand, wild catfish provides only 22% of the daily value for thiamin (vitamin B1), while farmed catfish provides 38%.

There are several health benefits to catfish. The Vitamin B-12 found in catfish supports red blood cell formation. Thiamin and niacin aids in energy production, neurological functions, and skin and nerve growth. There are also trace amounts of potassium, zinc, and iron. These minerals support bones, muscles, heart, and the brain.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, selecting farmed catfish over wild catfish may be a healthier choice due to the occurrence of heavy metals, such as mercury, that has been found in some wild catfish.