Farm-Raised Tilapia

Rutuja Jathar Mar 12, 2019
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There are quite a few health issues that are concerned with farm-raised tilapia. Read on to know about the considerations and precautions that you may need to take before eating farmed tilapia...
One of the most popular freshwater food fish, tilapia is appreciated for its tender and mild-flavored meat. It is also one of the most popular types of fish in the field of fish farming or aquaculture, after salmons and carps.
Tilapias are large in size and they are pretty easy to grow. As a result, they are popularly grown as a profitable breed of fish, in fish farms across the globe. Interestingly, more than 90% of tilapia which is available in the world is produced in the United States of America.
Most of the commercially grown tilapia fish are males, since existence of too many female fish causes invasion of small fish. All in all, tilapia is one of the most affordable fish species and hence, it is highly popular amongst the fish lovers.
There is quite a heated debate about health dangers and risk factors that are associated with farm-raised tilapia of late. Many experts and organizations have researched and discussed a lot about the risk factors that are associated with the commercially available tilapia.
Here, we will try to learn about all such factors that make farmed tilapia a dangerous fish to eat. Let's now focus on all the related information on health benefits and concerns about the tilapias that are raised in fish farms.

Nutrition

Before moving any farther, let's learn more about the nutritional value of tilapia. Tilapias raised in fish farms are low on saturated fats, calories, carbohydrate and sodium levels. Since it is a short lived fish, it also doesn't accumulate mercury. It has high levels of various nutrients like vitamin B3, vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus and potassium.
All these facts make tilapia a healthy fish for those who can't afford high cost fish and still want to maintain balance in their daily diet. Having said that, there are a few considerations that the tilapia eaters need to keep in mind. First cause of concern is the fat content of the commercially available tilapia.
Although they do not have high levels of saturated fats, the commercially produced tilapia fish have extremely high fat count, which makes them unhealthy for people suffering with high cholesterol levels and those at the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The high fat content in tilapia might be the effect of cornmeal added to their fish food.
Another cause of concern for people who consume high amount of fish farmed tilapia is its omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids content. Until now we were aware that both these are the types of essential fatty acids. However, tilapias that are raised on farms have disturbed ratio of chains of both the omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids.
This disturbance creates major issue as far as human health is concerned. Since these fish have lower levels of omega 3 and higher levels of omega 6 fatty acids, they pose higher health risk, upon their consumption.
Considering the aforementioned nutrition facts about tilapia, many people are refraining from purchasing tilapias produced by tilapia farming. But, it is important to keep in mind that one must find out about another side of the story, before completely avoiding the intake of tilapia or any such fish source for that matter.

Is Is it Healthy at All?

The aforementioned information about tilapia, which is well debated across various newspapers as well as Internet, was born after the report that was published by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
In this report, the researchers have suggested that commercially available tilapia fish which is raised in farms contains arachidonic acid (AA), which causes inflammatory reactions in human body.
So, along with the short chains of omega 3 fatty acids and longer chains of omega 3 fatty acids, the arachidonic acid in tilapia poses heart health risks for people who consume the fish farm tilapias.
As a result, a lot of people who are at the risk of certain health conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, are at a higher risk with eating fish like commercial tilapia.
Now what is exactly the difference between farm raised tilapia vs wild tilapia? If you do have this question on your mind, then let me clarify it by saying that the food which is given to the farm-raised fish is the real culprit for their lower nutritional value.
While in wild, tilapias are omnivorous fish but when they are raised in fish farms, they mainly eat cornmeal, soy meal or the algae and fungi that develop on surface of their ponds. As a result, one can definitely not compare health value of the kind of food that both these varieties of tilapia breeds eat.
With major risk of contamination and lower grade of the fish food which is provided to the farm-raised fish, they don't remain healthy as they would be; when in their natural habitat. Given the fact, consuming the healthier option is the only choice that the fish eaters are left with really.
Now having said that, farm-raised tilapia is definitely healthy when it is raised by abiding the rules and techniques of healthy fish farming. If you get to eat such a healthy tilapia fish, then it is alright. If not, then you must search for the safer and hygienic sources that provide healthy tilapias.
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