Tilapia is a mild-tasting freshwater fish that predominantly grows in ponds, rivers, and lakes. It resembles sunfish and has four known species, namely Nile Tilapia, Blue Tilapia, Red Tilapia, and Mozambique Tilapia.
As per researchers, illustrations found on Egyptian tombs indicate that the farming of Tilapia fishes goes back to some 3,000 years back.
Perhaps, tilapia might’ve been one of the first few fish species to be farmed.
Since then, the farming of tilapia has witnessed an exponential growth and it today ranks second on the list of most cultivated fishes in the world.
In 2015, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) analyzed the sustainability aspects of food products and found that both farm-raised and wild-caught fishes are beneficial, safe, and nutritious to facilitate optimal health.
Wild Tilapia, as per the Washington Post, is an environment-friendly, low-calorie, and lean protein source. At present, about 50 percent of all seafood sold in the US is farm-based.
What is Tilapia?
Tilapia is a lean and delicious white fish that belongs to Africa. At present, tilapia is farmed in more than 135 nations.
This fish provides a wide range of health benefits such as supporting weight loss, speeding up growth and repair of muscle tissues, building strong bones, boosting overall metabolism, reducing the risk of several chronic disorders, preventing arthritis, lowering triglyceride levels, supporting cognitive health, reducing signs of aging, supporting hair health, and boosting your immunity. Tilapia is also known for its anticancer properties.
Tilapia is low in calories and has no fats or cholesterol. These properties make it incredibly nourishing for the elderly and as well as for individuals suffering from a wide range of chronic ailments. As such, it is one of the most recommended food options for weight-conscious and obese people alike.
[Also Read: Benefits of Sardines]
Tilapia Fish Nutrition Values
Tilapia is a nourishing seafood source that offers a wide range of health benefits, thanks to its wealth of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients, including considerable amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and protein.
As per the USDA National Nutrient Database, wild tilapia also contains potassium, vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, and niacin.
One Serving of Tilapia Includes:
- Magnesium 9.5mg
- Calories 36%
- Calcium 3.9g
- Folate 1.7mcg
- Omega-6 fatty acids 84g
- Niacin 1.3mg
- Omega-3 fatty acids 67.2g
- Selenium 15.2mg
- Vitamin E 0.2mg
- Pantothenic acid 0.2mg
- Protein 7.3g
- Potassium 106mg
- Vitamin B12 0.5mcg
10 Incredible Tilapia Health Benefits
While tilapia offers several health benefits, the following 10 makes it the leading choice of health-conscious fish lovers:
1. Supports Psychological Health
It is a powerhouse of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient known to nourish your brain by accentuating neurological functioning. The intake of tilapia is said to boost concentration, along with helping you have a clear and calm mind. Rich in selenium, tilapia helps reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and epilepsy.
2. Strengthens Bones
Consuming this fish helps to promote your bone mineral density, thanks to an abundance of phosphorus and calcium in tilapia. It is also rich in collagen type-one, a widely used regenerative medicine.
3. Fights Cancerous Cells
Tilapia is an excellent source of selenium that combats free radical and helps reduce the oxidative stress in your body, both of which are the triggers of cancer. Similar to antioxidants, selenium helps to eliminate cancer cells and tumor growth in your body.
4. Supports Cardiovascular Health
Tilapia’s omega-3s are incredible nutrients that promote cardiac health(1). It not only consists of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids but is also extremely low in calories as compared to several other heart-friendly foods. It has no fats and cholesterol and therefore, helps in reducing high blood pressure that often triggers heart attack and stroke.
5. Helps Weight Loss
Those looking to lose or manage weight can add Tilapia to their daily diet without hesitation. The fish has just 36 percent calories and no fats whatsoever. It is also a safe and abundant source of protein that helps strengthen your muscles.
6. Heals Wound
This fish offers collagen that comes in handy in healing wounds and scratches quickly. Consuming tilapia in a sufficient quantity is said to accelerate the recovery and healing process. The nutrients found in this fish helps in regaining strength and stamina which you typically lose due to injuries.
7. Cures Thyroid Disorders
There can be several reasons that can lead to hormonal imbalance or thyroid problems. Treating these issues using natural sources is highly recommended since it helps you prevent several other chronic health conditions.
Selenium in tilapia supports the functioning of your thyroid gland. Consequently, your metabolism steps up and fights numerous factors associated with fluctuation in weight along with other health issues caused by thyroid malfunction.
[Also Read: Natural Treatments to Control Thyroid ]
8. Avoids Premature Aging
This fish is an excellent source of various vitamins such as vitamin E and B complex vitamins, both of which play a leading role in preventing premature aging. Several internal and external elements lead to premature aging, which can be managed well by regular intake of vital antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals – all of which are in tilapia.
9. Supports Immune System
From killing cancer cells to avoiding flu, you need a strong immunity to lead a happy and healthy life. Tilapia is rich in a wide range of essential vitamin and minerals that help boost your immune system.
10. Keeps Skin Healthy
Tilapia includes an appropriate amount of vitamin B and E, both of which improve your skin texture and luster, thence helping you enjoy a youthful you.
Breaking the ‘Bacon’ Myth
It’s a myth that tilapia is nutritionally similar to doughnuts or bacon is inaccurate and misguided. In 2008, a study by the Winston Salem Journal reported that tilapia was not nutritionally favorable.
However, the study and the claims started to disentangle when an international team of around 12 doctors clarified that tilapia fish is low in saturated and total fat, is abundant in protein and is part of an incredibly healthy diet.
1. Tilapia with Mango Salsa: Serves: 4
- 1 can (15 oz.) low-sodium black beans
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
- 1 mango, diced
- 1 avocado, diced
- ¼ cup red onion, finely diced
- ½ jalapeno, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 4 tilapia fillets (4-6 oz. each)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt and pepper
How to prepare:
- In a bowl, add the first 10 ingredients (from black beans to vinegar) for making mango salsa. Then set it aside while the fish cooks.
- Now preheat grill.
- In a bowl, mix cumin, pepper, salt, and chili powder. Sprinkle or rub evenly on tilapia fillets.
- Next, grill tilapia fillets for around 3 to 5 minutes per side, or till cooked properly. Fish must flake well when cooked.
- Lastly, top tilapia with salsa.
2. Lemon Tilapia Piccata: Serves: 4
- 2 tablespoons white wine
- 4 tilapia fillets
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lemon, sliced in half
- 2 tablespoon capers
- Fresh parsley, for garnish
How to prepare:
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium heat.
- While the olive oil is heating, you can juice half a lemon in a bowl and add capers, garlic, and wine.
- Mix the lemon juice, capers, garlic, and wine, and add to the pan.
- Now, slice the other half of the lemon, and add along with tilapia to the pan.
- Next, cook for around 2 minutes, flip and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, or till the fish cooks through.
- Lastly, garnish with parsley.
Tilapia is a cost-effective and widely-consumed fish that is farmed extensively around the world. It’s a lean and dense source of protein that is exceptionally high in several essential minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin B12, selenium, potassium, and niacin.
However, there are several reasons why some people may want to limit or avoid tilapia(2).
Also, there have been several reports of animal feces being included as food along owing to the regular use of several banned chemicals at one of the leading tilapia farms in China. Due to this, in case you prefer to eat tilapia, it is recommended that you avoid fishes from China.