Tilapia is an inexpensive, mild-flavored fish. It is the fourth most commonly consumed in the United States.
And it has a better backstory, too. According to biblical scholars, tilapia is the type of fish that Jesus used to feed the masses at the sea of Galilee.
Many people love tilapia because it is relatively affordable and doesn’t taste very fishy.
However, scientific studies have highlighted concerns about tilapia’s fat content. Several reports also raise questions surrounding tilapia farming practices.
As a result, many people claim that you should avoid this fish altogether and that it may even be harmful to your health.
This article examines the evidence and reviews the benefits and dangers of eating tilapia
The name tilapia actually refers to several species of mostly freshwater fish that belongs to the cichlid family.
Although wild tilapis are native to Africa, the fish has been introduced throughout the world and is now farmed in over 135 countries.
It is an ideal fish for farming because it doesn’t mind being crowded, grows quickly and consumes a cheap vegetarian diet. These qualities translate to a relatively inexpensive product compared to other types of seafood.
The benefits and dangers of tilapia depend largely on differences in farming practices, which vary by location.
China is the far the world’s largest producer of tilapia. They produce over 1.6 million metric tons annually and provide the majority of the United States’ tilapia imports.
Tilapia is the name for several species of freshwater fish. Although farmed all over the world. China is the largest producer of this fish.
■ IT’S AN EXCELLENT SOURCE OF PROTEIN AND NUTRIENTS
Tilapia is a pretty impressive source of protein. In 3.5 ounces (100 grams), it packs 26 grams of protein and only 128 calories.
Even more impressive is the amount of vitamins and minerals in fish. Tilapia is rich in niacin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, selenium and potassium.
A 3.5-ounce serving contains the following:
● Calories: 128
● Carbs: 0 grams
● Protein: 26 grams
● Niacin: 24% of the RDI
● Vitamin B12: 31% of the RDI
● Phosphorus: 20% of the RDI
● Selenium: 78% of the RDI
● Potassium: 20% of the RDI
Tilapia is also a lean source of protein, with only 3 grams of fat per serving.
Tilapia is a lean source of protein that is full of various vitamins and minerals.
■ ITS OMEGA-6 TO OMEGA-3 RATIO MAY LEAD TO INFLAMMATION
Fish are almost universally considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet.
One of the main reasons for this is that fish like salmon, tout, albacore tuna and sardines contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, wild-caught salmon contain over 2,500 mg of omega-3s per 3.5 ounce (100-gram) serving.
Omega3 fatty acids are healthy fats that lower inflammation and blood triglycerides. They have also been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
The bad news for tilapia is that it only contains 240 mg of omega-3 fatty acid per serving – ten times less omega-3 than wild salmon. If that wasn’t bad enough, tilapia contains more omega-6 fatty acids than it does omega-3.
Omeg-6 fatty acids are highly controversial but generally regarded as less healthy than omega-3s. Some people even believe omega-6 fatty acid can be harmful and increase inflammation if eaten in excess.
The recommended ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the diet is typically as close to 1:1 as possible. Consuming fish high in omega-3 like salmon will more easily help you meet this target, while tilapia does not offer much help.
In fact, several experts caution against consuming tilapia if you are trying to lower your risk of inflammatory diseases like heart disease.
Tilapia contains much less omega-3 than other fish like salmon. Its omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is higher than other fish and may contribute to inflammation in the body.
■ LOADED WITH FATTY ACIDS
It’s a classic case of good fish getting bad press. A study of wild and farmed fish made headlines when it reported that tilapia doesn’t have as many heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid as other fish, like salmon.
While that’s true, tilapia still packs more omega-3 fat than beef, pork, chicken, or turkey. Omega-3s support the membranes around every cell in your body and play important roles in your heart, blood vessels, lungs, and immune system — your body’s defense against germs.
Tilapia is also high in omega-6 fats. Omega-6s are another essential fatty acid your body can’t make on its own. These fats help keep your cholesterol under control. They also prepare your muscle cells to respond to insulin — the hormone that helps turn sugar into energy. That’s a great benefit, especially if you have diabetes.
■ PROTEIN POWERHOUSE
Tilapia’s nearly 23 grams of protein per serving fills you up and helps you feel full longer.
Your body uses protein to:
● Build bone and muscle
● Heal tissue
● Move oxygen through your body
● Digest food
● Balance hormones
One tilapia filet gives you body 12 milligrams of calcium it can’t make on its own. This mineral makes your bones stronger, helps your blood clot, and tells your muscles to contact and your heart to beat.
Tilapia has about 47 micrograms of selenium. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for this key chemical is 55 micrograms for people ages 18 and older. Your tyroid gland needs selenium to work right. So do your DNA and reproductive and immune system.
■ LOW IN MERCURY
Because tilapia is a farm-raised fish — usually is closed-tanked systems — they have less contact with pollution than other fish. This means they have the least mercury possible.
Tilapia is so safe, it gets the official thumbs up for children and women who are breastfeeding or pregnant. You can eat up to five servings a week.
To make sure you get all the health benefits of tilapia, buy filets that are moist and uniform in color, especially around the edges. Keep it in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to cook.
References: healthline.com /webmd.com