Tilapia is a popular fish worldwide; it can be found roasted whole with herbs or in dishes such as fish soup and curried tilapia. This fish is commonly available fresh or frozen, and it is a source of many essential nutrients. Be sure to cook tilapia (and all other seafood) well before eating it to reduce your risk of food-borne illnesses.
Calories and Macronutrients
Cooked tilapia has 145 calories in a 4-oz. (113 g) serving. It has 3 grams of total fat, with only 1 gram of cholesterol-raising saturated fat. Tilapia is a carbohydrate-free food that is very high in protein, with 30 grams per serving. Protein may help you lose weight because it slows down the emptying of food from your stomach, so you may feel full longer after a meal. This means that you may choose to eat less at your next meal, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. The values here are for steamed or broiled tilapia, and the calories and fat will be higher if you fry your fish or eat it with butter or another high-fat condiment.
Omega-Three Fatty Acids
A 4-oz. serving of cooked tilapia provides a total of 150 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA and EPA are long-chain omega-three fatty acids that you can get from fish and shellfish. When you eat an average of about 250 mg per day of DHA and EPA, you can lower your risk for heart disease, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A concern with some sources of DHA and EPA is the possibility that they contain mercury, an environmental contaminant, but tilapia is among the lower-mercury options.
Cooked tilapia is naturally low in sodium, with 63 mg per 4-oz. serving. Too much sodium can cause high blood pressure and a higher risk for stroke, heart disease and kidney disease, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy adults should consume no more than 2,300 mg sodium per day, and individuals with high blood pressure should limit their intake to 1,500 mg. You can keep the sodium content low by eating your tilapia plain or with herbs or lemon juice instead of salty sauces like soy sauce.
A 4-oz. serving of cooked tilapia has 429 mg of potassium. Potassium is essential for regulating your blood pressure, and healthy adults should get at least 4,700 mg per day, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Tilapia has 62 mg of selenium, or 88 of percent of the daily value for this antioxidant, and 5 mg of niacin, or 25 percent of the daily value. Niacin, or vitamin B-3, is necessary for energy metabolism.