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The Truth About Tilapia

Facts About Tilapia

Seafood aficionados and amateurs alike appreciate the diversity of our seafood selections. From lobster and oysters to salmon and tuna, there’s no lack of love for the bounty that we deliver right to your door.

But one of our selections doesn’t always garner the enthusiasm of our other fresh favorites: Tilapia. Sentiments on this delicious freshwater fish can range from a mild-mannered “so-so” to a more opinionated “not a real fish.” 

So why does tilapia, which is both tasty and good for you, tend to have a negative reputation? Is it warranted? Today we're going to explore some of the more popular opinions of tilapia – both good and bad – and answer some of our customer's frequently asked questions about one of seafood's most contentious fish.

Is Tilapia a Real Fish?

Yes, tilapia is a real fish – not a “franken-fish.” Stories of tilapia go back to the Roman Empire in 1500 B.C., with biblical scholars even hypothesizing that Jesus fed the masses on the shores of the Sea of Galilee with two tilapia and four loaves of bread!

Fast forward to the 21st century, tilapia is actually one of the most popular fish served in restaurants. Ranking behind tuna, salmon, and Alaskan pollock, it’s the fourth most commonly consumed type of seafood in the United States.

The most popular varieties of tilapia include Nile tilapia, blue tilapia, and Mozambique tilapia. While their flavor profiles are similar, the quality and taste are affected by their growing environment, feed type and water conditions.

Where Does Tilapia Come From?

Although tilapia hails from Africa, its surge in popularity has led to the development of commercial tilapia farms around the world. Over 135 countries, including the United States, produce farm-raised tilapia in indoor recirculating tanks, ponds, freshwater net pens, and raceways.

Is Tilapia Bad for You?

The quality of tilapia aquaculture systems can have impacts on both flavor and the nutritional profile. Tilapia quality and taste are affected by the feed type, which is typically corn and soy pellets. A high-quality, vegetable-based diet is imperative because it satisfies the population’s appetite, ensuring that the fish do not eat less desirable components.

Is Tilapia Good for You?

Yes! Responsibly-sourced tilapia is a delicious source of lean protein that is low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates and high in vitamins and minerals like selenium, vitamin B12, niacin, and potassium.

While tilapia is lower in the omega-3 fatty acids that are characteristic of salmon and sardines, it is comparable to other popular fish selections like cod, mahi mahi, and yellowfin tuna.

How Does Tilapia Farming Affect the Environment?

One benefit of tilapia farming is that it supports the sustainability of the wild tilapia population. Responsible aquaculture of any species provides a cost-effective product that supports global demand for protein without depleting native stock.

Does Farmed Tilapia Taste Good?

Tilapia’s sweet, mild taste and flaky texture make it a great fit for recipes calling for white fish. The lean fillets absorb flavors easily, so we recommend using a light hand with spices and sauces. Tilapia is versatile across many cooking methods including pan frying, broiling, baking, or braising.

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