Photographer / Jennifer Causey, food stylist / Karen Rankin, props stylist / Christine Keely
Salmon and tuna can get all the love, but don’t forget the tilapia. Mild-tasting white fish is routinely left out of the conversation, and it shouldn’t be. A recent market report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations indicated that tilapia is the fourth most consumed variety of fish in the United States.
Illustrated recipe: Grilled Tilapia with Lemon and Garlic Recipe
So what does tilapia offer in terms of nutrition? If you’re looking for other varieties of fish to add to your meals, read on to learn more about tilapia and its potential health benefits.
What is tilapia?
Tilapia is a white fish native to the Middle East and Africa. The majority of tilapia consumed worldwide is commercially farmed, grown in controlled environments rather than wild-caught. In the United States, most of the tilapia available is imported from Asia and Latin America, with a small percentage harvested domestically. You may be more likely to find locally grown tilapia at specialty grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and restaurants, depending on where you live and shop.
Farmed tilapia can thrive in saltwater or freshwater, both of which offer similar mild flavor profiles. Wild tilapia, on the other hand, can taste muddier.
Nutrition of tilapia
One serving (3.9 ounces uncooked, or about 3 ounces cooked) of tilapia provides:
2g total fat
60 mg sodium (3% Daily Value)
197 mg of phosphorus (28% DV)
350 mg potassium (10% DV)
49 mcg selenium (88% DV)
28 mcg folate (7% DV)
144 IU vitamin D (24% DV)
What are the health benefits of tilapia?
Tilapia, in its natural form, is a low-calorie, low-sodium fish that offers several health benefits, including being an excellent source of several important nutrients. Here are five benefits worth noting.
1. It has 23 grams of protein per serving
A serving of about 4 ounces of tilapia (which yields about 3 ounces when cooked) provides 23 grams of protein, making it an excellent lean protein choice. Protein is an essential nutrient for the growth, development and repair of cells in the body. It is also crucial for building hormones and enzymes that help keep the body functioning properly.
2. It is an excellent source of selenium
Selenium might not be a nutrient on your radar, but you can find abundant amounts of it in tilapia. One serving of tilapia contains 88% of your recommended daily intake of selenium. This essential mineral supports the thyroid and helps make hormones for growth, development and metabolism. Selenium is also an antioxidant that protects body cells from cell damage and can help support your immune system.
3. Contains over 25% of your daily phosphorus needs
Eating one serving of tilapia provides 28% of your recommended daily intake of phosphorus, an essential mineral found primarily in bones and teeth that works with calcium to support their health. Phosphorus also plays additional roles in the body, including maintaining acid-base balance in our blood, using and storing energy, and making cells.
4. It is an excellent source of vitamin D
What sets tilapia apart from other types of seafood is its vitamin D content, which can be hard to find in food. Foods containing vitamin D like tilapia can help you meet your nutritional needs to support your immune system, nerves and muscles. Additionally, vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium to build and maintain healthy bones and teeth.
5. It’s a good source of potassium
Finally, tilapia is a good source of potassium, a nutrient also found in many fruits and vegetables. Like phosphorus and vitamin D, potassium supports bones, nerves and muscles. It also works with sodium to maintain fluid balance in the body.
Is farmed tilapia eat safely?
Tilapia may be one of the most consumed fish in the country, but it is notorious for being farmed in polluted and overcrowded environments. Its reputation may encourage some consumers to choose other varieties of fish with similar health benefits.
As more and more people become concerned about the environment and the food ecosystem in recent years, fish farming practices (and their sustainability) are increasingly in the news. People want to know where their food comes from, and tilapia is no exception. Programs like Seafood Watch compile information to help make it easier to understand where the fish you choose comes from and how it’s raised.
To ensure you are buying tilapia from a sustainable source, you can also look for the Ocean Wise symbol placed on the menu item in restaurants, on the price tag at the fish counter and on the packaging of varieties. frozen.
Tilapia that is grown and raised in the right conditions and that follows husbandry guidelines is safe to eat, as long as it is also stored and handled correctly and cooked properly.
Is salmon or tilapia healthier?
In short, the “health” of a food for you depends on the nutrients you seek. For example, fatty fish like salmon, sardines and herring are much higher in omega-3 fatty acids. Although tilapia is generally lower in omega-3 fatty acids, a 2018 study found that farmed tilapia may contain higher amounts of this healthy fat if fed foods fortified with omega-3s. The amount of omega-3 fatty acids present in tilapia may differ depending on the type of food offered.
Nevertheless, tilapia offers more omega-3 fatty acids than other foods of animal origin, such as red meat and poultry. This white fish is also lower in mercury and offers many essential nutrients, making it one of the best and safest sources of fish for pregnant women and children, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
Ways to Enjoy Tilapia
Tilapia is a soft, flaky fish, which makes it easy to pair with various herbs, spices, and sauces. Because tilapia is usually sold filleted, it’s a great choice for a quick-cooking meal. You can bake, roast or pan fry it, or stuff it with spinach and Greek yogurt. Tilapia is also an excellent protein for chowders, curries and tacos.
Give your tilapia a kick by marinating it with cayenne pepper and pairing it with a fruit salsa.
Conclusion: is tilapia healthy?
Tilapia is a lean and nutritious source of protein that offers many health benefits. When grown sustainably, handled properly and cooked properly, tilapia is safe to eat. It’s perfect for quick and easy meals that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. Check out our healthy tilapia recipes for more meal ideas and inspiration.
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