Farm-raised tilapia is bad for you? Please say it isn’t so.
New research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine reports that farm-raised tilapia has very low levels of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and very high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. According to an article at the Environmental News Network:
They say their research revealed that farm-raised tilapia, as well as farmed catfish, “have several fatty acid characteristics that would generally be considered by the scientific community as detrimental.” Tilapia has higher levels of potentially detrimental long-chain omega-6 fatty acids than 80-percent-lean hamburger, doughnuts and even pork bacon, the article says.
“For individuals who are eating fish as a method to control inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, it is clear from these numbers that tilapia is not a good choice,” the article says. “All other nutritional content aside, the inflammatory potential of hamburger and pork bacon is lower than the average serving of farmed tilapia.”
But, the article says, the recommendation by the medical community for people to eat more fish has resulted in consumption of increasing quantities of fish such as tilapia that may do more harm than good, because they contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, also called n-6 PUFAs, such as arachidonic acid.
Tilapia is one of the most highly consumed fish in America and a very important fish in aquaculture due to their omnivorous diet (they eat a vegetable or cereal based diet), mode of reproduction, high stocking density, and rapid growth. Salmon, another important fish in aquaculture, rely on a high-protein diet based on fish or meat, whereas Tilapias are raised on an omnivorous diet in tanks or channels and are thus considered better for the environment since their waste and disease is better controlled. 
Tilapia is a part of my diet and will probably remain that way regardless of this study. I keep a bag of Tilapia fillets in the freezer and eat it about once or twice a month. It is a mild and highly-versatile fish that works well in a lot of recipes.
I had assumed that since it was “fish” it MUST be good for you. This is good information to have and just goes to show that you can’t assume something is good for you. It will take some further research on my part before I cross Tilapia off my list completely though.
Image credit: michaelrupert