Many dieticians have been debating the issue of whether tilapia is good for weight loss or not. The majority of them agree that by eating this fish you will be able to achieve your desired weight. This article discusses why tilapia is good for weight loss and how it can help you in achieving your ideal body shape.
The Truth About Tilapia
Tilapia is a farm-raised fish. Because it’s not available wild, there are concerns that tilapia is no longer a real fish but a “frankenfish.” Tilapia is produced from aquaculture, meaning they’re raised in freshwater systems and feed on algae. As Seafood Health Facts notes, these producers have developed different breeds or hybrids to improve and control the quality of growth, appearance, and flavor of the fish.
What Vitamins and Minerals Does Tilapia Provide?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate guidelines list tilapia as a fish rich in protein, with more than 20 grams (g) per small fillet. It’s also relatively low in fat and has very little saturated fat, making it a lean source of protein. Here are the nutrition stats for about a 3-ounce (oz) cooked fillet:
- Calories: 111
- Protein: 23g (46 percent DV, or daily value)
- Total fat: 2g
- Saturated fat: 1g
- Monounsaturated fat: 1g
- Polyunsaturated fat: 0.5g
- Carbohydrates: 0g
- Fiber: 0g
- Sugar: 0g
How Tilapia Compares With Other Fish
If it’s fish night in your house, you may be wondering what kind is best to grab. If you’re considering tilapia, here’s how it stacks up to three popular fish — salmon, cod, and tuna:
Salmon A 3-oz fillet of cooked sockeye salmon has 133 calories, 23g of protein, and 5g of fat. Compared with tilapia, salmon contains a similar amount of calories and protein. The difference is in the fat. Salmon is a fatty fish, and it has nearly 3 times the fat of tilapia. But salmon also has 500 to 1,500 milligrams (mg) of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids per portion. In contrast, tilapia contains less than 200 mg.
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Tuna If you’re eating a 3-oz can of tuna, you’ll get 109 calories, 20g of protein, and 2.5g of fat, making it comparable with tilapia. Yet tuna generally has more omega-3s than tilapia. For example, wild bluefin tuna contains 1,000 to 1,500mg of omega-3s; canned white albacore tuna has between 500 and 1,000mg; and canned light tuna and wild skipjack tuna have between 200 and 500mg. (7)
Is Tilapia Good for You?
Tilapia is a great source of protein that’s low in fat (2g) and saturated fat (1g), and offers a range of trace minerals. While fatty fish (those with relatively greater amounts of omega-3s) are generally recommended by organizations like the American Heart Association to help reduce the risk of heart disease, it’s more important that you eat fish twice a week, particularly if fish is replacing high saturated-fat foods, like red or processed meats. Tilapia offers a range of nutrients, and having tilapia as a lean protein source in your dinner rotation can mix things up and could help you stick to a healthy diet.
Is Protein-Rich Tilapia Good for Weight Loss?
Tilapia can be part of a weight loss diet. The foremost reason: Its protein content. With 23g of satiating protein per 3-oz, 110-calorie fillet, it will keep you full, possibly helping you resist less-healthy between-meal snacks.
Increasing your protein intake could pay off if you’re trying to lose weight. Research in short-term studies shows that people on higher-protein calorie-restricted diets lose more weight and fat compared with similar diets lower in protein.
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Ideally, eating 25 to 30g of protein per meal is best to decrease appetite and spur weight loss. Having whole grain and vegetable sides along with the fish fillet will get you to that 25g marker easily.
That said, like anything else, the weight loss potential of a food often comes down to how it’s prepared. For instance, a light sauté, bake, or grill are waistline-friendly ways to cook, whereas a deep fry or covering the fillet in rich, high-fat sauces will increase the calorie count. It’s important to make the choice that aligns with your health and weight loss goals.
How to Select and Store Tilapia for the Best Quality Possible
You can buy raw tilapia fresh from the fish counter at your grocery store or individually wrapped as frozen fillets in the frozen-foods section. When it comes to selecting fish, including tilapia, you want to buy based on quality and appearance, as well as environmental impact.
When choosing tilapia, look for fillets that have firm, shiny flesh. Some will have been previously frozen, which is completely fine. (Your grocer should list “previously frozen” on the sign.) The edges of the fillet shouldn’t be discolored, dry, or mushy. Avoid fish that smells especially fishy — this could be an indication that it’s not fresh. If you’re buying frozen tilapia fillets, make sure that the package is firmly frozen (not partially defrosted), and there shouldn’t be ice crystals in the package, which indicates that it’s old. If possible, store in a cooler for the trip home.
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The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program recommends farmed tilapia as the “best choice” or “good alternative,” depending on the country they come from. Specifically, you can look for those that are raised in indoor recirculating tanks (worldwide), ponds (from Ecuador) or raceway farms (from Peru) if you want to find the greenest option.
If your grocer doesn’t list where the fish is coming from or how it was raised, don’t hesitate to ask — the fishmonger should have this information. You can also look for eco certifications. These may be listed on the label or the front of the package of frozen tilapia. Two organizations that certify tilapia are Global Aquaculture Alliance (BAP) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. You can find certified tilapia in major retailers, like Walmart, Whole Foods, and Target, according to the National Fisheries Institute.
Once you get it home, put it in your fridge or freezer immediately. If it’s not prepackaged, rinse under cold water, dry with paper towels, and wrap in plastic warp. To ensure freshness, place on ice as well. You can also freeze it by wrapping in freezer bags or foil before stashing in the freezer.
Will Eating Tilapia Help Me Lose Weight?
When it comes to weight loss, Tilapia is a smart choice because it’s super lean. A 4 ounce fillet packs 21 grams of protein and one gram of fat in only 90 calories. To understand just how lean Tilapia is in comparison to other proteins, we can compare it to 4 ounce servings of other meats:
- The leanest ground beef (95% lean, 5% fat) has 24 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat and 153 calories
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are a bit better, at 34 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat and 184 calories
- Farmed Atlantic salmon has 23 grams of protein, but is a fattier fish with 12 grams of fat and 207 calories.
A Tilapia-based diet certainly stands out as a great way to keep your protein levels nice and high while cutting back on extra calories and fat.
Fish is one of the healthiest sources of protein, and tilapia is no exception.
Tilapia is packed with vitamins and minerals like choline, niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium, and phosphorus. It is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats that your body needs to function.
Due to its high nutrient content, eating tilapia can provide the following health benefits:
Selenium is a mineral that plays a role in the prevention of cancer, heart disease, cognitive decline, and thyroid disease. Although you only need a small amount of selenium, it is essential for various bodily functions. Tilapia is an excellent source of this mineral, as a single tilapia fillet covers 88% of your daily value of selenium.
Many of the health benefits of eating fish are due to its high omega-3 fatty acid content. These unsaturated fats benefit heart health in a variety of ways, including:
- Reducing blood clotting
- Lowering cholesterol
- Lowering blood pressure
- Decreasing your risk of strokes and heart failure
- Reducing irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia)
Tilapia gives you more omega-3 fats than beef, pork, chicken, or turkey.
Tilapia has many of the nutrients your body uses to make and maintain bones, such as:
- Vitamin D
Eating tilapia is a great way to keep your bones healthy.
Tilapia is high in vitamin B12, which helps your body make DNA, maintain its nervous system, and produce red blood cells. It’s also low in fat, saturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, calories, carbohydrates, and sodium making it a healthy addition to any meal.
Top Reasons to Put Tilapia on the Menu
Tilapia is a popular whitefish. This delicious, lean fish is becoming a staple in many homes because of how versatile it is. Sometimes called the “chicken of the sea,” tilapia can be used for a wide range of recipes from fish tacos to tilapia Parmesan. It is the go-to choice for everyone from seafood skeptics to seafood chefs.
Like other seafoods, there are many health benefits to putting tilapia on the menu. It is full of essential vitamins and nutrients—like vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid—that your body needs. That is why the American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women and children eat up to 12 ounces of it every week. You can benefit from eating tilapia, too.
Here are top benefits of eating tilapia:
- Heart Health
It’s a smart choice to put tilapia on the menu if you’re concerned about your heart. The omega-3 fatty acids in tilapia have been linked to lower risk of heart attack, stroke and atherosclerosis. These essential fatty acids have also been linked to lower levels of triglyceride in the cardiovascular system and cholesterol.
- Brain Boost
Along with benefiting your heart, omega-3 fatty acids are also good for the brain. They have been connected to increased neurological function and may play a role in protecting the mind from degenerative mental conditions such a dementia.
- Weight Management
Whether you are trying to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight, eating tilapia will make you feel full without adding to your waistline. It is high in protein but low in calories and fat. It is a great alternative to salmon which is higher in fat and calories.
- Bone Health
Tilapia is a good source of phosphorus which is important for bone health. Phosphorus is an essential mineral that your body needs for bone growth and development. Even your teeth and nails need it to be strong and durable. Getting enough phosphorous can help prevent osteoporosis as you age.
- Good Source of Selenium
Tilapia is high in the antioxidant selenium. Selenium has many health benefits. Like other antioxidants, selenium is believed to play a role in reducing oxidative stress on your organ systems and free radical activity that causes the effects of aging and mutation of healthy cells into cancerous ones. It can also boost white blood cell activity in your body, helping your immune system defend against toxins and foreign bodies. Along with its antioxidant qualities, selenium plays a vital role in regulating hormonal functions in the thyroid gland.