The Tilapia fish has been winning hearts at the dining table for its soft flavors and various health benefits. Along with being low in fat and calorie, the fish is high in protein, making it an ideal food item. Let’s buckle down and take an in-depth dive into everything about this fish and why this deserves to be your great serve.
How Did This Specie Come To Be The Staple In Seafood?
A species of plant-eating freshwater fish, Tilapia, rose in popularity last year, and there’s almost a 100% chance that you had it last year. It is the 4th most consumed fish in the United States, and a study shows that average American eats more than a pound of this fish every year. The only three fishes consumed more than the Tilapia fish are Tuna, Salmon, and, Alaskan Pollock.
This fish grew to be a staple because it is inexpensive and relatively easy to cook. Its mild and soft taste makes this white fish an appetizing dinner serve. But, beyond its taste and cooking, it’s the farming methods of the fish that “blew it up” in popularity. The fish can be mass-produced, making it affordable and widely available at high quality. These are reasons why the Tilapia was nicknamed the “aqua-chicken.”
What Is So Special About The Farming Method Of The Tilapia Fish?
Since the fish is farm-raised and not caught in the wild, netizens took to calling it the “Frankenfish,” claiming that it’s not a real fish. The fish is produced through aquaculture, which is raised in the freshwater system and fed on algae. The Tilapia fish producers have developed hybrids or different breeds, as noted in the Seafood Health Facts, to control and improve the fish’s growth quality, flavor, and appearance.
To take a deeper dive into the farming process, the producers use selective breeding techniques to cultivate a firm fish. The “Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia” (GIFT) is one such strain created in part by the WorldFish organization. The GIFT strain is easier to grow and farm while increasing faster than any of the various Tilapia breeds. Resistant to diseases, the strain is widely available in Africa and Asia.
The GIFT strain of the fish is a significant source of inexpensive protein in developing countries facing poverty and food insecurity. Much of the Tilapia in the United States is imported from China that employs the GIFT strain. To clear the question, the fish is a real fish and not a “Frankenfish” since the strains are developed through selective breeding instead of being genetically modified or engineered.
Nutrition Facts of The Frankenfish.
The Tipala is listed as a fish rich in protein, as per the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate guidelines. It has more than 20 g proteins per small fillet. The fish is also low in calories and fats. It has very little saturated fat, making it an excellent protein source. Here are some exact numbers to showcase the nutritional values of a 3-ounce cooked Tilapia fillet.
- 111 Calories
- 23 g Protein (46% of the Daily Protein Value)
- 2 g Total Fat
- 1 g Saturated Fat
- 1 g Monounsaturated Fat
- 0.5 g Polyunsaturated Fat
- 0 g Carbohydrates
- 0 g Fiber
- 0 g Sugar
Tilapia vs. Other Fish
Now that we’ve looked at Tilapia as a fish singularly let’s compare it to other popular fishes to see why it is the best choice for your dinner serve. The popular fishes that Tilapia will be compared to are Tuna, Salmon, and Cod.
Consuming a 3-oz Tuna fish can and a 3-oz cooked Tilapia fillet can be compared in nutritional values. The Tuna can give you 109 calories, 2.5 g fat, and 20 g protein. This fish is comparable to the Tilapia, but it usually has more omega-3s than the Tilapia fish. To explain, the Wild Bluefin Tuna has 1000-1500 mg, and the Canned White Albacore Tuna has 500-1000 mg, the Canned Light Tuna and the Wild Skipjack Tuna have 200-500 mg of omega-3s.
Comparing a 3-oz Cooked Sockeye Salmon Fillet to Tilapia based on nutritional facts, we notice that the Salmon gets you 133 calories, 5g fat, and 23g protein. Even though the Salmon is similar to the Talapia in the calories and the protein, the difference lies in the fat. The fat in Tilapia is three times lesser than that in the fatty fish Salmon. But it also has 500-1500mg of omega-3s, whereas Tilapia has less than 200mg of it.
Like Tilapia in its white flakiness, the Cod can easily substitute for the Tilapia, and vice versa. In nutrition facts, the 3-oz piece of Cooked Cod is comparably less in calories (89), and fat (<1g), and when it comes to omega-3s, both Cod and the Tilapia contain almost similar amounts (<200mg per 3-oz portion).
Potential Health Benefits Of The Frankenfish.
There are several health benefits of the Tilapia fish, but the most prominent one is that it is a lean source of protein while low in saturated fat (1g) and fat (2g). It also offers a variety of trace minerals. While the fatty fish, those with the comparatively more significant omega-3s amount, are more commonly recommended to help the risk of heart diseases by organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA). But, it is even more critical that you consume fish twice a week, especially if the said fish is replacing high saturated-fat foods like processed or red meats. Tilapia is an excellent choice for your dinner rotation since it acts as an excellent protein source and offers a tremendous, varied range of nutrients, mixing things up and helping us stick to a healthy diet.
The Frankenfish For Weight Loss.
Tilapia can also be included in a weight loss diet mainly for its protein punch. It has 23 g of appealing protein per 3-oz fillet with 110 calories. This meal will keep you full, making you not long for less-healthy in-between meal snacks. Increasing your protein intake is a good decision if you’re trying to lose weight. Several research studies show that lower-protein calorie-restricted diets are less likely to lose weight than if the diet is higher-protein calorie-restricted. 25-30 g of protein intake per meal is ideal for spurring weight loss while lowering our appetite. But, in the end, the weight loss potential for a diet usually depends on how it is prepared. To explain, baking, a light-saute, or even to grill are waist-friendly ways to cook, whereas covering the fillet in rich, high-fat sauces or deep frying will increase its calorie count. It comes down to your choice that aligns with your needs and goals.
Are There Any Side Effects/Health Risks To The Frankenfish.
It is rumored that some fish have higher levels of mercury, and women who are breastfeeding or are pregnant should try not to consume high mercury levels. However, Tilapia is a fish with low mercury levels and is advised to be eaten with some other species like the Salmon and Pollock twice or thrice a week by the FDA. Another potential rumor is that eating a Tilapia is worse than eating a strip of bacon or a burger. This is based on the fat makeup in it. But, this claim has since been disputed.
Tilapia makes for a healthy meal with ample protein for little saturated fats, unlike bacon with its health risks due to its sodium content.
Description: You’ve definitely had the Tilapia fish since its popularity burst, but here’s everything about it and why it is a species that’s going to stick as a staple in the seafood aisle.