Diet and Nutrition

Why Is Tilapia a Versatile and Healthy Fish Choice?

Why Is Tilapia a Versatile and Healthy Fish Choice?

Key Takeaways

  • Tilapia is described as a mild white fish that is both low in calories and fat content. 
  • Tilapia is a great source of protein.
  • Popularly used in Asian cooking, tilapia has also become popular in Western countries as it can be added to a healthy diet like salads.

Tilapia nutrition facts

Tilapia is described as a mild white fish that is both low in calories and fat content. Tilapia is the kind of fish that fits well in many dishes and tends to take on the flavor of other ingredients.

There are less than 150 calories in 4 ounces of tilapia fillet (broiled) while fried or battered tilapia has approximately 50 percent more calories compared to a tilapia that is broiled or grilled. A 4-ounce grilled tilapia fillet offers a minimum fat of 3 grams or 27 calories from fat and 0 grams of carbohydrates.

Tilapia is rich in vitamin B12, which is essential for the development of red blood cells (RBCs). The brain depends on vitamin B12 to protect nerve endings and for neurological function. To support these functions, adults must have 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 each day. A 4-ounce tilapia fillet can provide 2.1 micrograms of vitamin B12, nearly almost all of the daily requirement. Moreover, 4 ounces of tilapia fillet can provide 450 milligrams of potassium, a mineral needed to balance the fluid in the body.

Tilapia is also a great source of protein. A 3.5-ounce serving of tilapia has 26 grams of protein. Generally, men require 56 grams of protein a day while women require 46 grams. Thus, a serving of tilapia can meet almost half of the daily protein requirements. This fish can also supply vital amino acids, making tilapia a complete source of protein. The protein in tilapia can be used by the body to build and maintain the protein it stores.

Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and tilapia is not an exception. A 3.5-ounce serving of tilapia contains 131 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are important fats because they can help improve inflammation in the body and can reduce the risk of developing heart problems. The body needs approximately 250 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids each day.

Other nutritional contents of tilapia include calcium (11.3 milligrams) and potassium (341.3 milligrams).

A blackened tilapia (6-ounce fillet), on the other hand, contains 255 calories, 10 grams of fat, 83 milligrams cholesterol, 12 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams dietary fiber, and 34 grams protein.

What does tilapia taste like?

Tilapia has a mild taste, almost no flavor of its own, which is why it is recommended for people who hate the taste of fish or for people who have not tried fish at all. However, some people say that tilapia has a muddy taste probably because tilapia is a farm-raised fish.

How do you cook tilapia?

Tilapia can be cooked in various ways. It can be fried, grilled, baked, steamed, or broiled. The best way to cook tilapia is through frying because it is a very delicate fish. Tilapia can be used with any ingredient as it only tastes mild. You can add any flavor on it and it will still be good. It usually works well in Asian dishes.

Tilapia cooks fast. It is ready to be served when its flesh turns into opaque white or when the flakes are easily poked with a fork. The general rule in cooking tilapia (per inch of thickness) is to cook it for only 10 minutes. If the tilapia is cooked in a parchment, sauce, or foil, an additional 5 minutes to the cooking time is usually recommended. Tilapia fillets, which are less than half an inch thick, do not require turning during cooking. When grilling tilapia, you must oil the grill before putting the fish to prevent the fish from sticking.

There are various tilapia recipes around the globe. However, some chefs do not prefer tilapia due to its blunt taste. Popularly used in Asian cooking, tilapia has also become popular in Western countries as it can be added to a healthy diet like salads.

Is tilapia bad for you?

The consumption of tilapia has been controversial in the recent years. Recent studies have shown that tilapia may actually promote more inflammation. The worsening of inflammation can result in arthritis, heart disease, asthma, and other serious health problems. Researchers from Wake Forest University have observed that the inflammatory potential of this fish is far greater compared to pork bacon or hamburger.

Since tilapia is a farm-raised fish, it could have cancer-causing pollutants than those that are caught in the wild. This is attributed to the feeds used on farm-raised fish. There are rumors that chicken feces are one of the primary ingredients of farm fish feeds. Aside from that, a very common practice on fish farms is the transfer of duck and pig waste to these fish farms. Farm-raised fish are also found to have high levels of antibiotics and pesticides. The reason behind it is that fish farms are crowded, which makes the fish at risk of developing diseases. To keep the fish alive, most farm owners give antibiotics to keep them away from diseases. Pesticides are also given to fish as a treatment against sea lice. These reports do not mean that people should completely stop eating tilapia. It is important for people to know where the fish they are buying is coming from.

Most imported tilapia fillets have decreased beneficial nutrients due to fish farming methods, poor food quality, and usage of hormones. Instead of using hormones, there must be proper species selection with an organic diet of aquatic plants or tilapia farming feeds in high quality to allow the tilapia to retain the nutrients that humans need, especially the omega-3 fatty acids. Moreover, since tilapia is a freshwater fish, it absorbs water through its skin and gills. For this reason, the quality of water in fish farms is very important. If tilapia is farmed using dirty water, expect that it will also absorb nasty things into their bodies.

When it comes to our health, we think that eating fish would be a better and healthier choice than bacon, which is true most of the time. Fish contains high protein and low in fat. However, depending on where the fish comes from, it could either be best or bad for your health. Remember that there is a huge difference between farm-raised fish and fish caught in the wild. Tilapia, salmon, catfish, cod, and sea bass are the most common farm-bred fish.