Tilapia is freshwater fish prized for its white, delicate, mild flavored flesh. Tilapia fish are found in the Nile and other warm rivers but can also live in saltwater and found in tropical seas. There are many varieties of tilapia, with colors ranging from grey to bright red.
Scientific name: Oreochromis niloticus. These Cichlidae family attractive fish known by many local names as - Nile tilapia, tilapia du Nil (French), tilapia del Nilo (Spanish), etc.
Tilapia is a non-oily, warm water fish. Its body is vertically compressed and covered with smooth edged cycloid scales. Dorsal fin has 16- 17 spines and 11 to 15 soft rays. During spawning season, its pectoral, dorsal and caudal fins color turns reddish; caudal fin with numerous black bars.
Nile tilapias weigh 5 lb and in its natural habitat live longer than 10 years. Its flesh is light-pink, sweet, and delicate. But once cooked, the flesh turns white.
Nile tilapia is a tropical species that prefers to live in shallow river waters and coastal estuaries. It is voracious feeder that that feeds on both phytoplankton periphyton, aquatic plants, and on and zooplanktons and small invertebrates.
In the cultured nurseries, sexual maturity in ponds is reached at an age of 5-6 months. Tilapia fish are asynchronous breeders and spawning begins when the water temperature reaches 24 °C. Female tilapias incubate and brood eggs and fry in their mouth.
Tilapia is non-oily, shallow water fish and is one of the lowest calorie fresh-water fish; 100 g holds just 96 calories; almost the same as halibut (91 calories).
It is one of the finest sources of essential fatty acids, protein, minerals and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin-A, E and D (cholecalciferol).
Tilapia composes lean, white meat that composes good amino-acids profile. 100g fish provides 20.08 g/100 g (36% of RDI). Tilapia protein composition is complete in the sense that it has all the essential amino acids in good proportions.
Its lean, white meat is also a good source of poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Studies have shown that eating seafood can decrease the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity and hypertension. Tilapia fat is less saturated but has lots of “heart healthy polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3 fatty acids.
US FDA categorises tilapia in "the best choice" section considering mercury levels in its flesh. It recommends consumption of eat 2-3 servings a week for adults.
Tilapia meat is good source of omega-3 eicosapentaenoicacid (EPA), docosapantaenoicacid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) fatty acids. Studies suggest that that the fatty acids, particularly DHA, play an important role in the growth and development of nervous system, especially in infants and children.
According to Cornell University and the New York Sea Grant Extension Program. 2012- the fatty acids play crucial role in decreasing blood pressure and heart rate and help improve cardiovascular function. For example, research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) that can lead to sudden death.
In adults, several large trials have evaluated the effect of fish or fish oils on heart disease. In the "GISSI Prevention Trial heart attack survivors who took a 1-gram capsule of omega-3 fats every day for three years were less likely to have a repeat heart attack, stroke, or die of sudden death than those who took a placebo".
100 g of tilapia fillet holds -pyridoxine (B-6) 0.162 mg (12.5% RDA) of and niacin 3.903 mg (24% RDA). It is also a good source of vitamin-E, vitamin-B12, thiamin, and riboflavin.
Sole fillet is naturally rich source of minerals including selenium (41.8 μg or 76% of DRI), iodine, calcium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Iodine is an important trace element in human nutrition and is essential for thyroid hormone synthesis.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||1.7 g||8.5%|
|Dietary Fiber||0.5 g||1.3%|
|EPA (20:5 n-3)||0.005 g||--|
|DPA (22:5 n-3)||0.043 g||--|
|DHA (22:6 n-3)||0.086 g||--|
Tilapia fish are available all year round. Much of its supply is now farmed. Small fish are sold whole, while larger tilapia are filleted. A 1.5 lb fish will serve two.
Tilapia sold as fresh, frozen, fileted..etc. You can buy either whole fish or dressed into filets.
Buy a high quality tilapia from authentic sellers. Try to purchase a whole tilapia or fillet that is cut from the thickest part of the fish. Wild-caught tilapias are brighter than farmed varieties. Also, wild varieties types are nutritionally rich and have fewer toxins than farmed ones.
Avoid tilapia with a strong fishy odor. Tilapia spoils quickly, so always store in the freezer section of home refrigerator.
Whole tilapia need little preparation. Just trim fins, scale, remove innards before cooking. Tilapia are delicious stuffed and baked, grilled (broiled) or barbecued.
Tilapia may be pan roasted, shallow fried, broiled, foil baked, and grilled in the preparation of variety of mouth-watering menus.
Just ensure it should be cooked until the meat is opaque and flakes off easily.
Here are some serving ideas:
|Tilapia recipe. Photo credit: kurmanphotos|
Tilapia filets can be lightly coated in cornmeal or egg and breadcrumbs or batter and then deep fried.
Enjoy parmesan cheese crusted tilapia filets with roasted vegetables.
Tilapia is one of the top aquacultured seafood. In many Asian countries it is farmed in polluted rivers where water contains fish feces, rotting fish feed and residues of pesticides and veterinary drugs as well as other pollutants that were already mixed into the poor quality water supplied to farmers.
Tilapia fish has low mercury levels; 0.013 ppm. WHO tolerable upper limit of mercury in food is 0.5 mg/kg of fish. Accordingly, the U.S FDA final guidelines on how much fish expectant as well as breastfeeding mothers can eat, along with lists of specific options that are safe or should be avoided, places tilapia fish consumption under the best choice category. By this yardstick, they can consume 2-3 servings a week. (Medical disclaimer). Medical disclaimer).
<<-Also read Halibut nutrition facts and health benefits.
Further reading (Links opens in new window):
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.