Top 7 Swordfish Health Benefits You Need To Know

Written by Payal Karnik , MSc (Biotechnology), Diploma In Nutrition

Swordfish reigns supreme over the oceans. This apex predator can reach a length of 15 feet and weigh several pounds. Pan-seared or grilled swordfish steaks are a popular delicacy in the South Atlantic region. This meaty fish is an excellent seafood choice due to its rich nutrition profile. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and vitamin D. These nutrients support heart, bone, and brain health. Read this article to learn more health benefits of swordfish and popular recipes to try. Scroll down.

What Is Swordfish?

What-Is-Swordfish

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Swordfish (Xiphias gladius) is a large, migratory, predatory billfish found in warm and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. It has a rounded body, large eyes, and a long sword-like bill to injure and stun the prey. Adult swordfish lack teeth and scales.

Swordfish is a popular game fish pursued by anglers for recreational and commercial activity. Anglers commonly use longlines and harpoons to catch them. Swordfish migrate to colder waters in the summer to feed. Fish and invertebrates like squid are among their preferred meals.

Swordfish meat (or steak) is sold fresh or frozen, and accordingly, the nutritional value may vary. Check out the standard nutritional information of swordfish below.

Nutrition Profile Of Swordfish

A hundred grams of raw swordfish contains (1):

Calories144 kcal
Proteins19.7 g
Total lipids (Fat)6.65 g
Sodium81 mg
Potassium418 mg
Calcium5 mg
Iron0.38 mg
Magnesium29 mg
Phosphorus255 mg
Zinc0.66 mg
Selenium57.4 µg
Vitamin D13.9 µg
Vitamin E2.02 mg
Cholesterol66 mg

Swordfish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) (2). It is an excellent source of selenium and vitamin D. Human body cannot produce these essential nutrients. Hence, we have to depend on food sources to get them. Consuming swordfish has excellent health benefits. Let’s take a look at them.

Potential Health Benefits Of Swordfish

1. May Promote Heart Health

Swordfish contains selenium, vitamin D3, and omega-3 fats. Selenium is crucial for maintaining heart health, especially in patients at the risk of heart failure and cardiovascular conditions. Vitamin D3 maintains healthy blood vessels and heart function. Several clinical trials have shown that EPA and DHA reduce the risk of heart-related deaths, and a daily intake of 0.5 to 1.8 g of EPA and DHA keeps the heart healthy (3), (4), (5 ).

2. May Prevent Cancer

Consuming fish rich in EPA and DHA reduces the risk of breast cancer, especially postmenopausal breast cancer. Swordfish contains vitamin D, which is crucial for bone health. However, intake of this vitamin has been linked to reduced risk of colon, breast, prostate, and ovarian cancer (6), (7).

3. May Boost Brain Function

The essential nutrients in swordfish may help boost brain function and cognitive abilities. Vitamin D promotes brain development and function. Balanced blood and brain selenium (present in swordfish as selenoproteins) concentrations are essential for healthy brain function and neuron survival. DHA is also vital for brain function and improved cognition (8), (9), (10).

4. May Improve Vision

EPA and DHA reduce the risk of inflammatory eye disorders, such as dry eye disease (DED) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These healthy fats reduce inflammation and protect our eyes (11).

5. May Improve Bone Health

Swordfish is packed with nutrients that can keep your bones strong and healthy. Vitamin D helps keep calcium and phosphorus levels in check, the bones strong and hard, and maintains essential cellular functions. Selenium (as selenoproteins) promotes bone development, and omega-3 fatty acids may increase bone mineral density in women (12), (13), (14).

6. May Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis

Researchers found that a daily dose of 2.6 g omega-3 fatty acids could minimize the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, women over 50 may be at lower risk for rheumatoid arthritis when they consume adequate amounts of vitamin D (15), (16).

7. May Boost Immunity

Omega-3 fatty acids improve the function of immune cells to improve the body’s immune response. Vitamin D also influences immune system response and reduces the risk of infections and other diseases. Selenium affects immunity in different ways. In individuals with moderately low selenium levels, it may have a greater impact on immune function (17), (18), (19).

Though the above benefits seem brief, their role in our body’s functioning is complex. Numerous biological processes rely on the three vital nutrients – omega-3 fats, selenium, and vitamin D. And swordfish is a wholesome source for all. Get the details on how to include swordfish in your diet in the next section.

How To Add Swordfish To Your Diet: Popular Recipes

Swordfish has delicate, tender, and moist meat with a hint of sweetness. It is usually grilled, broiled, or pan-seared. Well-cooked swordfish is crisp yet tender. Here are a few recipes you can try.

Popular Recipes With Swordfish

1. Greek Stuffed Swordfish

This hearty swordfish recipe is infused with Mediterranean flavors.

What You Need

  • 200 g swordfish steak
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach (chopped)
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • ¼ cup of feta cheese (crumbled)
  • Salt, as needed
  • Black pepper (freshly ground), as needed

How To Prepare

  1. Set up an outdoor grill on high heat. Lightly oil the grate.
  2. Slit the steak to make a pocket.
  3. Combine a tablespoon of olive oil and lemon juice in a cup. Brush both sides of the steak with the mixture and keep it aside.
  4. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil and garlic in a small skillet over medium heat. Add spinach and wilt it.
  5. Remove from heat and stuff the spinach and feta cheese into the pocket.
  6. Grill the fish for 8 minutes on each side.
  7. Cook until done and season with salt and pepper.

2. Tangy Grilled Swordfish

This tangy swordfish dish will have you coming back for more.

What You Need

  • 2 pieces of 200g swordfish steaks
  • 2 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
  • ½ teaspoon of saffron threads
  • 12 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • ¼ cup of chives
  • ½ cup of parsley (coarsely chopped)
  • ½ cup of olives (mashed)
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Salt, as needed
  • Black pepper (freshly ground), as needed

How To Prepare

  1. Oil the grill grates and set the heat to medium-high.
  2. Coat the steaks with salt and oil.
  3. Sauté garlic and saffron on medium-high heat for two minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  4. Grill the steaks for 5 minutes until opaque and firm. Plate them.
  5. Toss tomatoes, chives, parsley, olives, and vinegar into a bowl with the reserved garlic mixture, salt, and pepper.
  6. Serve with the fish steaks.

3. Swordfish With Mushrooms

This delicious swordfish dish paired with earthy mushrooms will keep your taste buds tingling.

What You Need

  • 2 pieces of 200g swordfish steaks
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups of mushrooms (sliced)
  •  3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 green onion (sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon of dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon of capers
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley (chopped)
  • Salt, as needed
  • Black pepper (freshly ground), as needed
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest

How To Prepare

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Brush the swordfish with olive oil and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Sear the fish for a few minutes on each side over high heat.
  4. Remove it from the heat and put it in the oven for 10 minutes.
  5. Melt butter in a separate skillet over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms, green onions, lemon juice, and zest with a splash of white wine.
  6. Sauté for 5-6 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender and the sauce is dry. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Slice the swordfish and top with mushrooms, capers, and parsley.

Here are some additional tips for cooking swordfish:

  • If you are looking for fresh fish, check for color clarity and resistance. Ideally, the meat should be bouncy.
  • Ensure to remove the skin before cooking.
  • Always thaw frozen swordfish.
  • The fish turns opaque as it cooks. Flip it once you see it turning white.

Feeling inspired to try these tasty swordfish recipes? Before you do, consider these factors.

Side Effects And Allergies

Swordfish is packed with essential nutrients and health benefits. The concern, however, is that it may also contain high levels of mercury.

Apex predators like swordfish feed on various other fish and thus, accumulate high levels of mercury, especially methylmercury. This toxin may cause cancer and adversely affect the brain (20).

Species of fish that live for long and are on the top of the food chain (apex predator) contain high levels of mercury than other fish. Regular consumption of such fish can cause mercury poisoning. While the body naturally disposes methylmercury, its levels may take over a year to drop significantly. Therefore, the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advise pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children to avoid these types of fish (21).

Don’t get alarmed. Most sea fish contain some amount of methylmercury. Instead of avoiding them, limit your consumption. Be sure to consult your doctor.

The Final Word

Swordfish is one of the biggest predators of the ocean and a popular delicacy. Its steaks are juicy, meaty, and flavorful. Swordfish is loaded with essential nutrients, including vitamin D, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids, crucial for maintaining our body processes. It also supports brain, heart, and bone health. However, the high levels of methylmercury are a cause for concern. Hence, it is best to limit your intake and avoid it if you have any health concerns.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Is swordfish better than tuna fish?

No. Tuna is rich in minerals and contains low levels of mercury than swordfish.

Is swordfish good for lowering cholesterol?

No. There is no evidence that swordfish can lower cholesterol levels.

Is swordfish good for muscle growth?

Yes. Swordfish is rich in proteins that help build muscles.

Is fish protein better than chicken?

No. Chicken has higher protein levels than fish.

Which fish has the highest mercury levels?

Tilefish has the highest mercury levels at 1.123 ppm.

What happens if you eat fish every day?

Fish is rich in vital nutrients, and you can eat it every day unless otherwise suggested by your doctor. However, several fish may contain high levels of mercury – eating them regularly may affect your health.

What fish has the highest amount of omega-3?

Salmon has the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids among fish.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Fish, swordfish, raw, FoodData Central
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173703/nutrients
  2. Seasonal Effects on the Levels of Omega 3 Fatty Acids in Swordfish (Xiphias Gladius) Muscles According to Body Parts
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/270683826_INTERNATIONAL_JOURNAL_OF_ENGINEERING_SCIENCES_RESEARCH_TECHNOLOGY_Seasonal_Effects_on_the_Levels_of_Omega_3_Fatty_Acids_in_Swordfish_Xiphias_Gladius_Muscles_According_to_Body_Parts
  3. Selenium and outcome in heart failure
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ejhf.1644
  4. Vitamin D in the prevention and treatment of coronary heart disease
    https://journals.lww.com/co-clinicalnutrition/Abstract/2008/11000/Vitamin_D_in_the_prevention_and_treatment_of.13.aspx
  5. Usefulness of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and the Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0002914905014542
  6. Fatty fish and fish omega-3 fatty acid intakes decrease the breast cancer risk: a case-control study
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/1471-2407-9-216
  7. The Role of Vitamin D in Cancer Prevention
    https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2004.045260
  8. The effects of vitamin D on brain development and adult brain function
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0303720711002565
  9. Selenium and selenoproteins in the brain and brain diseases
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12807419/
  10. Docosahexaenoic Acid and Cognition throughout the Lifespan
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772061/
  11. The Role of Fish Oil in Inflammatory Eye Diseases
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6945974/
  12. Vitamin D and Bone Health
    https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/126/suppl_4/1159S/4724783?login=true
  13. Selenoprotein W ensures physiological bone remodeling by preventing hyperactivity of osteoclasts
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33859201/
  14. Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid dietary intake is positively associated with bone mineral density in normal and osteopenic Spanish women
    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0190539
  15. Long-term effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in active rheumatoid arthritis
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/art.1780370608
  16. Vitamin D intake is inversely associated with rheumatoid arthritis: results from the Iowa Women’s Health Study
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14730601/
  17. Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Immune Cells
    https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/20/20/5028/htm
  18. Vitamin D and immunity
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  19. The influence of selenium on immune responses
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  20. Mercury and methylmercury bioaccessibility in swordfish
    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19440040903365272
  21. FDA/EPA 2004 Advice on What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish
    https://www.fda.gov/food/metals-and-your-food/fdaepa-2004-advice-what-you-need-know-about-mercury-fish-and-shellfish

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