What Are the Health Benefits of Swordfish?

Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on June 03, 2022
3 min read

Are you looking to adopt a healthy Mediterranean-style diet that incorporates more fish? Swordfish (Xiphias gladius) is a nutrient-rich source of lean protein widely available around the world. Swordfish are typically fished responsibly and are a good choice for consumers concerned about the environmental impacts of overfishing.

Considering incorporating more Swordfish into your diet? Read on to learn what you need to know about the health benefits of Swordfish.

Swordfish are some of the largest bony fish in the sea, at 1,400 pounds in weight and 15 feet in length. These strong, swift predators get their name from a flat and blunt swordlike protrusion at the front of their head. Adult swordfish eat large bony fish and squids, using their "sword" to hit and stun their prey. Swordfish are one of the fastest hunters in the sea, reaching speeds of 50 miles per hour, and have unique adaptations that allow them to hunt in cold, deep waters for prey.

Where Do Swordfish Live?

Swordfish live in the open ocean all around the world. Swordfish can live in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters and are found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Large populations exist near Hawaii, along the West Coast of the U.S. and Mexico, and east of Japan. 

Swordfish Nutrition 

Swordfish is a good source of lean protein, is naturally low-sodium, and is rich in many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, including: 

  • Niacin, a B vitamin that helps keep your nervous system, digestive system, and skin healthy.
  • Vitamin B12, a vitamin that contributes to red blood cell production, nerve function, and cell metabolism.
  • Phosphorous, a mineral contained in bones and teeth.
  • Selenium, a mineral that promotes normal growth and may even prevent some cancers.
  • Omega-3, a fatty acid that may reduce your risk of dying from heart disease.

Swordfish May Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

Eating at least two 3.5 ounce servings of nonfried fish like Swordfish a week can decrease your risk of heart disease, stroke, sudden cardiac death, and congestive heart failure. Swordfish health benefits may be even more pronounced if you use fish to replace less healthy protein options like bacon or sausage.

As a large fish, swordfish contains higher levels of mercury than other fish. While the benefits of eating fish typically outweigh the risks of mercury, mercury poisoning from eating fish can occur. It's healthiest to eat swordfish cooked, as cooking reduces mercury content by up to 30%. 

Pregnant adults should avoid eating Swordfish due to the high mercury content.

Here are the swordfish nutrition facts for a 3-ounce serving:

Calories: 146

Protein: 19.9 g

Total fat: 6.74 g

Carbohydrates: 0 g

Protein: 19.9 g

Calcium: 5.1 mg

Magnesium: 29.8 mg

Phosphorus: 258 mg

Potassium, K: 424 mg

Sodium, NA: 82.4 mg

Selenium: 58.2 mg

Swordfish is typically described as sweet and meaty. It doesn't have a strong "fishy" flavor, making it a good choice for people who don't usually enjoy seafood. Swordfish has a dense texture similar to a steak and is less flaky than other fish. 

For the best taste, make sure your swordfish has been appropriately handled. Fresh fish should be springy and firm to the touch. Frozen fish should be free of ice crystals — crystals are a sign the fish has been frozen too long or thawed and refrozen, which compromises flavor. 

You should prepare and consume fresh fish as soon as possible, as fish spoils quickly. Store fresh fish in the coldest part of the refrigerator below all ready-to-eat foods. You should thaw frozen fish before cooking. For best results, thaw fish overnight in the fridge, but in a pinch, you can thaw fish in a bowl of cold water or use the "defrost" setting on the microwave. 

How to Cook Swordfish

Swordfish can be cooked in various ways but is most popularly grilled, pan-fried, or broiled. Swordfish has a mild flavor that pairs well with diverse other flavors, so you can experiment to find your favorite herbs, seasoning, or marinades for swordfish.

Like all fish, you should cook swordfish to an internal temperature of 145°F. Properly cooked fish is opaque all the way through and separates easily.