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Is Tilapia Fish Healthy?

author image Jinan Banna
Jinan Banna began writing professionally in 2009. She has contributed an article on perceptions of fast food among university students to "JO" magazine in Amman, Jordan. Banna is currently teaching nutrition online through the University of Phoenix. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy in nutritional biology from the University of California, Davis and is also a Registered Dietitian.
Is Tilapia Fish Healthy?
Pan fried tilapia fish with vegetables and potatoes. Photo Credit: rez-art/iStock/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPlate scheme recommends you consume at least 8 ounces of seafood each week. Tilapia is a good protein source that fits in the "protein foods" group in MyPlate and is a healthy choice for several reasons. Like many other types of seafood, tilapia contains some unsaturated fat, calcium and a large amount of protein. In addition, it does contain a small amount of cholesterol, which may raise your risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease when consumed in excess.

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Tilapia contains a small amount of unsaturated fat, with approximately 1.3 g in 4 oz, including some omega 3 fatty acids. These fats help reduce inflammation and, over time, can reduce the likelihood you'll develop high cholesterol and cardiovascular problems. Tilapia does contain some saturated fat as well, with 0.6 g in 4 oz. Saturated fat should be limited in the diet, as it produces an increase in "bad" LDL cholesterol, which can cause buildup of plaque, or fatty deposits in your arteries that can cause circulatory problems.


Tilapia provides a considerable amount of cholesterol, with 56 mg in 4 oz., or 19 percent of the daily value based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Although this amount is not as high as that found in some cuts of red meat or eggs, tilapia is still relatively high in cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol should be limited to 300 mg or less for most people, as it may increase blood cholesterol in some people if consumed in excess.


Tilapia is rich in protein, with nearly 23 g in 4 oz., or 45 percent of the daily value based on a 2,000-calorie diet. The protein found in tilapia is considered "complete" protein, because it contains all of the essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein that must be obtained in the diet. Protein is needed for maintenance of the body's tissues and also provides a sense of fullness and satisfaction after eating.


A 4-oz. serving of tilapia provides 11.3 percent of the recommended daily amount of calcium and 10 percent of the RDA of potassium. Calcium is important for strong teeth and bones, and works with potassium to conduct impulses in the nervous system. Potassium promotes muscle contraction and supports heart function, and diets high in potassium tend to support good bone health.

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