Tilapia fish is a freshwater fish found in shallow waters. It was considered healthiest, cheapest and with a great taste. But soon negative publicity occurred about it. Now, the health benefits have become a debatable issue. So what is the truth about this fish?
Tilapia fish is a fresh water fish that is found in shallow waters of rivers, lakes, ponds etc. Once upon a time, people called it the best tasting and healthiest fish. Moreover, it was also the most economical fish to purchase in the market.
This fish is the fourth largest consumed fish in the USA since 2002. But a 2008 study on the ratio of omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids in this fish revealed that it had higher levels of omega 6 fatty acids. The authors stated that tilapia had worst nutrition and has the tendency to cause inflammation. And it was said that the nutrition was even lower than that of bacon and hamburgers. There was a media outcry and this fish was outright rejected by many consumers.
Moreover, there was a concern about the rearing process of the fish, its contamination levels, and effects on the environment.
If we look at the overall nutritive value of this fish, it has 125 calories in a 3.5 ounce serving. Proteins are 26 grams whereas fats are 2.6 grams. There are no carbs in it. And saturated fats are 0.9 grams. It is rich in selenium, vitamin B3 and vitamin D. Eating this fish can meet the goals of two fish servings per week as recommended by the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
This fish has a light taste and is relatively cheap. It does not have omega 3 fatty acids as much as salmon. It does have more omega 6 fatty acids. But not all omega 6 fatty acids are bad. In fact, some of them are anti-inflammatory and can lower blood triglycerides and prevent clot formation.
Tilapia-the controversy on it
Tilapia rearing is bad in China farms. Here they grow them in dirty waters and the farms are full. Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch states that these fish from China farms are unhealthy. They were linked to use of illegal antibiotics too. But those from Peru and Ecuador are good.
The fish is easy to prepare and is not strong tasting. It is cheaper. And it has the nutrients. Hence, eating tilapia is healthy. One can consume it and achieve the goal of recommended consumption of two servings of fish per week for health reasons. But be certain to buy the fish from reputed places where risk of contamination and negative impact on environment is absent.
The bottom line is that tilapia is a nutritious fish and one can consume it. It is sustainable and tasty. It has high proteins and healthy fats and other nutrients. Just like other fish, it can have contamination.
Therefore, have it after ensuring that it is reared in reputed areas and is not contaminated. Why avoid a cheap source of lean protein based on a false claim or myth?