I recently read an interesting article in the New York Times about tilapia–the now-ubiquitous fish that graces menus all over the nation. Ten years ago, most of us had probably never heard of tilapia, but this fish has proved a good fit for mass farming and its mild taste pleases many palates.
The article’s main focus is the environmental impact of farmed tilapia, but the author brings up nutritional concerns about it as well. She notes that beyond being a source of lean protein, the health benefits of tilapia are often misrepresented. Quoting Johns Hopkins’ Edgar R. Miller III, “When people talk about the need to eat more fish, they are using that as a metaphor for fish oil, DHA and EPA.” Wild tilapia has almost no Omega-3 content to begin with; farmed has even less, because farmed tilapia are fed with corn and soy as opposed to eating other fish and aquatic plants. Even more troubling, tilapia has Omega-6 levels that outweigh any potential benefits of the minuscule Omega-3 content.
Furthermore, experts from Mayo Clinic note that “…some researchers are concerned about eating fish produced on farms as opposed to wild-caught fish. Researchers think antibiotics, pesticides and other chemicals used in raising farmed fish may have harmful effects to people who eat the fish.”
The bottom line: if you’re looking for brain and heart health benefits of Omega-3s, skip the tilapia and try wild salmon, mackerel, herring, or anchovies.
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