We know how delicious and nutritious Tilapia is. But unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who haven’t tried it—and it’s likely because they’ve heard some wild rumors about the fish being unnatural and unhealthy.
Like anything else you read on the internet, however, it’s important to check your facts. Which is exactly why we’re taking the time to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Tilapia. Here’s what you need to know about where the species comes from, how it’s raised, what it tastes like and why you should incorporate it into your diet.
Is Tilapia a Real Fish?
Yes, Tilapia is a real fish. It’s a common myth that the species is “man-made”—but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. While Tilapia is often raised in fish farms around the globe, the species is native to the Middle East and Africa. References to and drawings of Tilapia can even be dated back to ancient Egypt.
Does Tilapia Have Scales and Bones?
Despite what you may have heard or read on the internet, Tilapia is not a “mutant fish”. It has scales and bones just like other fish species. And, as mentioned above, humans have enjoyed eating it for centuries.
Is Tilapia a Freshwater Fish?
Yes, Tilapia is a freshwater fish that lives in natural habitats—streams, rivers, dams and lakes—across the world. While you might spot the occasional few living in brackish water (a slightly salty mix, like that found in estuaries), it’s far less common.
How is Tilapia Farmed?
Despite only becoming popular in the United States in the early 2000s, Tilapia is one of the oldest farmed fish in the world. Today, Tilapia farming architecture is made up of contained nets or pens in clean lakes. In these environments, the fish are raised on vegetable-based feeds, and the water is tested frequently to ensure health and safety.
Concerned about where your fish is coming from? Look closely at the labels in your grocery store. If raised in the best conditions, like Regal Springs Tilapia, the fish will have the certifications to prove it.
Is Tilapia High in Mercury?
Mercury contamination is common in a variety of seafood, including mackerel, marlin, tuna and swordfish. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid eating fish altogether! Stick to smaller species, like Tilapia, that contain lower concentrations of mercury—and eat farm-raised fish when possible as they may be exposed to fewer toxins and pollutants than wild fish are.
What Does Tilapia Taste Like?
Tilapia has a mild, slightly sweet taste—it’s not overwhelmingly fishy, like some other species. This means it pairs well with other ingredients, spices and herbs. It’s incredibly easy to work with, so have fun experimenting with different flavors and cuisines.
What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Tilapia?
Tilapia is loaded with protein and nutrients that can positively impact your health, like omega fatty acids. Omega-3, in particular, can minimize your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. In addition, omega-3 contributes to healthy brain function—helping you stay sharper for longer.
Tilapia is also a good source of lean protein, and is a great option if you’re looking to lose weight: a fillet contains 21 grams of protein, one gram of fat and only 90 calories. The species is also packed with phosphorus, which improves bone health, among other nutrients.
How Can Tilapia Be Cooked?
Tilapia can be prepared in almost every way. It’s an incredibly versatile fish that tastes delicious whether it’s baked, grilled, poached, or roasted. You can use it in fishcakes, soups and casseroles, barbecue it on skewers and even serve it on your go-to salad. If you need some inspiration, check out our recipes.
Photo Credits: annata78 / Shutterstock Inc., Vasehaus / Shutterstock Inc., LADO / Shutterstock Inc., Mironov Vladimir / Shutterstock Inc., Ekaterina Kondratova / Shutterstock Inc.