Tilapia: An Unhealthy Choice?

By jigsaw Latest Reply 2014-03-09 10:44:37 -0500
Started 2014-03-01 06:42:14 -0600

If you enjoy seafood and fish, then you may find this information interesting. Many people enjoy Tilapia, but you just may want to give it a second thought.

Tilapia: An Unhealthy Choice?
Published: 3/1/2014

Farm-raised tilapia is one of the most commonly consumed fish in America, yet it has very low levels of beneficial omega-3 fats compared to its content of omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6's are essential, but the American diet typically includes far too much of this kind of fat. An overabundance of dietary omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, and inflammation is a key contributor to many chronic health conditions.

Tilapia is not necessarily unhealthy, but Dr. Weil recommends reaching for the best fish of all - wild-caught Alaskan salmon. It has an impressive omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio and is a species associated with fewer concerns about environmental toxins. While it is more expensive than tilapia, it is a worthy investment in your health (omega-3 fatty acids help to promote mental and physical well-being) that can reap dividends for the future.

43 replies

Fefe12 2014-03-09 03:31:06 -0500 Report

I can't believe farm raised fish of any kind is any good. I don't eat it if its not wild caught. Read all about farm raised and didn't like what I red so I stay away

CHenry9973 2014-03-06 16:08:29 -0600 Report

dang and here I was thinking about starting an aquaponics garden. But down the postings you did say catfish was good for you. My husband loves catfish.. maybe if I put some mud in the bottom of the fish tank and get his some mud cats he will be happy. LOL I was actually thinking about using tilapias. Being in Texas, I have not seen much salmon swimming wild in our lakes. (actually none, water is too warm) So I guess I need to get the omega 3's from a pill too.

jigsaw 2014-03-06 16:40:19 -0600 Report

Try walnuts, they're a good source of omega 3s. Unfortunately, they seem to cost at least as much as fish, and won't help much with your garden!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-03-02 18:49:24 -0600 Report

Hi jigsaw,

I am not a big fish eater, though I wish I liked it better. Tilapia is one fish that I can eat. So I guess that will have to go the way of my canned tuna on the cutback list.



sweetjay 2014-03-02 18:57:30 -0600 Report

so if fish not good to eat or?

jigsaw 2014-03-02 19:10:38 -0600 Report

I think it's a good idea to eat fish. I eat many types of fish, including some tuna on occasion. Moderation is the key. I do try to pick the healthiest choices of fish when possible, and cut back or eliminate the less healthier types.

theladyiscrazy 2014-03-02 15:59:01 -0600 Report

I haven't even Tilapia in awhile. I do Salmon, Steelhead Trout (actually in the salmon family and not a trout), and bass the most often. Of course tuna.

jigsaw 2014-03-02 17:38:40 -0600 Report

Now that's some tasty fish choices! I also enjoy catching them. I use to fish the ocean up until recently. I ran into a school of small Tuna, and caught more then I was willing to eat. Had to share them with some friends. It was extemely exciting to see a feeding frenzy of Tuna, surrounding the boat. Unfortunately, my wife got very upset every time that I hooked one. It was darn good eating though, mercury and all! LoL !

JaredLahti 2014-03-02 08:58:58 -0600 Report

I think Jigsaw is giving us information that we could make our own decisions. I personally am not all that big on fish. I don't mind salmon and breaded flounder (I know not very good for me) every once in a while. I prefer beef over everything else as it can be such a healthy meat if you choose the right cuts. With ground beef you can buy the higher fat stuff (cheaper) and make it healthy by cooking it, draining it, rinsing it and using a paper towel to dry it. I don't mind using a little bit of time to save a few bucks. I understand what some of you are saying about studies and all because one week they are saying that eggs, coffee, etc are no good for us and then the next week we should drink a gallon of coffee a day. In the end we all have to remember that we have to enjoy what we eat and that food is fuel for our bodies. I would think most foods in moderation are ok for most people and the occasional cheat is not necessarily a bad thing. Thank you jigsaw for the information. It is always good to have as much info as possible for us to make food choices.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-03-02 18:47:52 -0600 Report

I know what you mean, Jared. It does get confusing at times. I have cut way back on beef, and when I do I also carefully drain it and dry it with a paper towel. I still like tuna, but have cut way back on that too. Yes, moderation.

jigsaw 2014-03-01 17:08:19 -0600 Report

Not only is it a good idea to know about the foods that we eat, but it also helps to know where it came from. Certainly we all like to be prudent with our choices, but you best make sure it's a healthy choice also!
Here is an interesting link for those of you that may be interested!

GabbyPA 2014-03-01 15:03:21 -0600 Report

I try to avoid farm raised anything in the fish department. Cold water wild caught are the best options. Unless you get into the mercury issue, so avoid fish that are at the top of the food chain.

jigsaw 2014-03-01 15:35:25 -0600 Report

Good advice Gabby. I totally agree that it's a good idea to avoid farm raised fish. Their PCB ratio is higher then wild caught due to the feed that is used. They are are fed ground up fish that is high in polutants. Farmed fish are also given antibiotics. You're definitely better off with wild caught in most cases.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-03-01 15:01:00 -0600 Report

Jigsaw I think we discussed this in a previous post. Tilapia is basically a junk fish. My sisters cardiologist told her to never eat it 3 years ago. A friend with arthritis said her doctor told her Thursday to stop eating it because it causes inflammation. Because it is high in Omega 6. We had the discussion not long ago at a family gathering and our 85 yr. old aunt said her doctor told her to stop eating it. I have a neighbor who has won a battle with cancer and had knee replacement surgery. She said she was told to stop eating it.

I am not a big fish eater and I tried Tilapia and did not like it. This article tells us why we should not eat it and I think if anyone is on blood pressure medications, have a problem with swelling and heart problems should talk to their doctors about eating this fish.

tabby9146 2014-03-09 10:44:02 -0500 Report

I used to eat tilapia at times, and liked it, because it did not taste "fishy" but I don't anymore. about the only seafood I like are fried crab claws! yum! I do not eat fried food often, but I do allow myself my friend fish and crab claws sometimes. I don't like most fish, I will eat catfish every now and then and mullet, believe it or not, is good, it too does not have a "fishy" taste but I can live without all fish for sure. mullet is very very white. I do like some fried oysters on the winter, and late fall when they are best. down where I am, there is lots of great seafood.

jigsaw 2014-03-01 16:20:21 -0600 Report

Joyce, I inadvertently put down the wrong link in my response to you. I edited and changed it to the link that I originally intended. I thought I would mention it just in case yoiu read it before I changed it. Here it is again just to make sure. I know you like reading, so enjoy!

jigsaw 2014-03-01 15:48:29 -0600 Report

It also depends on where the tilapia comes from to some degree. It doesn't hurt to avoid it as your doctor pointed out, if you really want to play it safe. tilapia can be farm raised, which is the worst choice, It can also be wild caught, and that's usually healthier. Tilapia is also more than one type of fish, that is given the same name. That's another consideration. Quite a bit of tilapia is shipped to the USA from China, and you definitely want to avoid it, if it is!
Here is a long but interesting read that you might enjoy!

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-03-01 20:59:12 -0600 Report

jigsaw I was done in when I read that most of the US Flags flying in this country are made in China because it is cheaper to make them there than in this country. I cannot for the life of me understand why we have to have food we eat shipped from China of all places.

jigsaw 2014-03-02 07:11:31 -0600 Report

That really irks me also. One of the few things that I'm familiar with that don't come from China, are the majority of American people. LOL!

camerashy 2014-03-01 14:55:57 -0600 Report

I eat farm-raised salmon. Does anyone know the omega-3 in it? I'm allergic to most seafood, so finding something I can eat is tough.

jigsaw 2014-03-01 15:29:23 -0600 Report

I avoid farm raised fish. Here is one article of many that I have read on the subject of farm raised. Wild caught is generally higher in omega 3s and healthier eating as a rule.
Check out this link. I think it answers your question thoroughly.

camerashy 2014-03-01 15:49:51 -0600 Report

Well, that was helpful. Thank you! I guess I'm off fish of any kind.

jigsaw 2014-03-01 16:08:48 -0600 Report

Sorry for the disappointing info. Can you eat cod, hake, or catfish? Hake is also a healthy choice, and high in omega 3s. All three are less expensive then salmon. They are also availabe at Costco and Sams Club.

TopazDee 2014-03-01 12:55:34 -0600 Report

Sorry guys never heard of that fish here in the UK our bog standard fish is Cod and Haddock I can't stand Tuna or Salmon, my omega 3 I get from a capsule I know it's not ideal but better than none at all I think (I'm sure some-one will tell me if I'm wrong).
Stay safe All xxxx

jigsaw 2014-03-01 16:48:17 -0600 Report

Well, I guess i think it's ok, I take capsules for omega 3s also. It was recommended by my doctor a couple of years ago. He even surprised me by having a free supply shipped to my house. Great guy, for sure.
Cod is fairly high in omega 3s, and I believe that haddock may be also.

Type1Lou 2014-03-01 09:02:08 -0600 Report

While many studies should be taken with a "grain of salt" (or not…too much sodium???), It is always helpful to know what we are consuming and then be able to make our choices according to our needs and our means. Yes, we have all seen the see-saw back and forth praise/condemnation of certain products. Isn't it wonderful that we live in a society where such information is not supressed and we are free to choose? Thanks for this eye-opening post!

jigsaw 2014-03-01 10:59:53 -0600 Report

Yes, I think it is great that information is not only available, but free to choose and pick from as we prefer. Probably a major reason why DC is so helpful, and even amazing.

granniesophie 2014-03-01 08:26:34 -0600 Report

Oh, for Pete's sake! Give it a week and this story will change! Not everyone can afford to buy salmon, and since fish is a necessary part of the diet, tilapia will have to do.
At one time or another, nothing appears to be good for you, so what do you eat?? Just eat the best you can, and that should be good enough. Not everyone can afford all the this weeks so-called healthy foods, which will change next week anyway! Just because the government say it is so, does not make it true! One must do their own research to find out what is best for them.

jigsaw 2014-03-01 08:58:52 -0600 Report

Let me know if you find any info that has determined Tilapia to be healthy. By the way, this article was written by Dr. Weil, and has nothing to do with the government. Also, there are many other healthy choices of fish that are substantially less expensive then salmon. Tilapia has been considered to be a less healthy choice for years. That is not to say that it is unhealthy, but simply put, not as healthy as some other choices. If you are sure that your diet does not include an abundance of omega 6s, then by all means go ahead and eat all the tilapia you want.
I'm simply posting some info from a respected source. It's ok if you disagree, and I'm not saying what you should or shouldn't eat.
As for me, my health is important enough, that I'll spend an extra dollar for what I believe is a heathier choice!

Here is a link by the Mayo Clinic, nothing to do with the government mind you! They are a highly respected medical source! Feel free to poo poo it if you like!

Nick1962 2014-03-01 19:35:53 -0600 Report

Can I poo poo it for her? Sorry, but I’m with granniesophie on this one. Nothing says Tilapia is unhealthy, in fact catfish is just as bad.
If we’re micro-managing our diets so tight that one serving of Tilapia (or catfish for me – can’t stand Tilapia) tips the scales (pardon the pun), I’d posit that we’re completely missing all the daily consumed foods like most cooking oils, nuts, beef, bacon and tuna which have even higher levels of Omega 6.

The link you provide contains those words I look out for “…..is thought to be associated….” and “…..thereby possibly increasing risk….”. Mayo Clinic or not, get back to me when someone has some positive proof like “has BEEN CLINICALLY SHOWN to be associated with” or “has PROVEN to increase risk”.

Sorry, noteworthy, just not newsworthy in my book. You eat a lot of fish and you’re not dead yet. I doubt tossing the Tilapia is gonna tack another ten years on anyone’s life.

jigsaw 2014-03-01 20:10:33 -0600 Report

Nick, I'm surprised by your response! Apparently you didn't read much of the info posted that carefully! Who said that Tilapia was not healthy? It was simply stated that there were healthier choices available. Even I said in my response to Grannie, that there are healthier choices. I never stated that tilapia was unhealthy per se.

Note the end of the paragraph in the link I posted by Mayoclinic.org. The author states that he will continue to eat tilapia! Heck, I'll eat certain tilapia on occasion. Certainly a serving or two will likely not cause any harm. Well maybe not, I'm beginning to wonder if that strange appendage growing out my side is related! LOL!

I think you woke up today in a bad mood! No problem. I think you and granniesophie should go out to a nice seafood restaurant, eat a nice plate of Tilapia, and then read this link! Well maybe Chinese catfish for you. Just being facetious! I want nothing but the best for the both of you!
Here's the link! Love that tilapia! Maybe a side of spinach and mushrooms? ☻

Nick1962 2014-03-02 11:19:20 -0600 Report

Oh Jigsaw, jigsaw, jigsaw buddy (chuckle). Always ready to assume I’m in a bad mood because I have a differing opinion.

My question, like granniesophie’s is just where will it end. Twenty years ago no one even knew about omegas, and now suddenly we need to explore healthier choices to one of the most popular fish choices because someone with a computer poses the picayune opinion that it’s too high in Omega 6’s.

Your opening statement to granniesophie…. “Let me know if you find any info that has determined Tilapia to be healthy”. Did I miss something there or are there words missing? Sure sounds like a challenge to prove Tilapia’s health benefits.

So what happens when the foods we choose as “healthy” alternatives get micro-analyzed and those are deemed unhealthy? At some point to live an optimally healthy life we’ll all be living on nothing but injections. Or Soylent Green.

Yes, yes I have read the literature closely and it all has a common theme – that being “hey this is high in (fill in the blank), but there’s not much to worry about.” Well, if it’s still OK to eat Tilapia, why the ____ even write the piece in the first place? It says and proves nothing.

As for “healthier” alternatives to Tilapia, bear in mind that we inland dwellers don’t have the access to many of them. Even in my county of half a million people, we have less than 10 reputable fish retailers with any type of variety of fresh fish, and if I believed everything I read, only half of that is really fit for consumption. No, the only affordable alternatives we have are what sells.

Bottom line, there’s a lot of crap information out there, but read this and tell me just how healthy fish is in general and whether or not you should be taking Omega 3 supplements (if you haven’t already)

jigsaw 2014-03-02 13:05:23 -0600 Report

Nick, this appears to be turning into some sort of contest! We could argue the pros and cons and opinions from now till dooms day. That's not my intention, nor is your description of what I have said in this discussion my intent.

The discussion here is simply food for thought. It can be decided by the reader to be taken as positive or negative. Notice that the title to the discussion is Tilapia: An Unhealthy Choice ? The title is posed as a question. My intent is to put up interesting info, and be helpful.

So how else do we learn, other then to read available info from what we suspect to be reputable sources, and various professionals that we believe in?

Seriously Nick, I'm not going to attempt to shoot down or poo poo what you say. I enjoy reading your posts ( most of the time) and I'm perfectly comfortable with you disagreeing. It just a matter of how you go about it, that can make a difference. At this point, I think we have crossed that line.

I'm sure you learned what you have about the many changes you made in your diet in part, by absorbing and also rejecting information from numerous sources. I also suspect that you don't only eat affordable alternatives that sell You more then likely make healthier choices then you use to, from the affordable choices that are available. Otherwise, you would be eating the way you once did when you were less aware!

Peace my friend, or at least I hope so!