Tilapia and halibut are both flaky white fish with a mild flavor. Tilapia is the fourth most commonly consumed fish in the United States, according to 2010 information provided by SeafoodHealthFacts.org. Halibut is popular as well, but tends to have a slightly higher price. Because of their mild flavors, both fish work well in a variety of recipes. Both are also low-fat sources of protein and provide similar vitamins and minerals.
Calories and Protein
Halibut and tilapia are very close in terms of their calorie and protein content. A 3-ounce portion of tilapia provides 109 calories, while the same portion of halibut provides 94 calories. This minor difference may come from the fact that halibut has a slightly higher water content than tilapia. They differ only a little in protein content as well: Tilapia has 22 grams of protein per serving, while halibut has 19.
These two fish vary only slightly in their fat content, too. Tilapia contains 2.3 total grams of fat and halibut has 1.4 grams per serving. Tilapia has 48 milligrams of cholesterol per serving and halibut has 51. However, halibut does have slightly higher concentrations of the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. These essential fatty acids play a role in brain function, reducing inflammation and lowering your risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center website.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Both tilapia and halibut also provide essential vitamins and minerals. Tilapia provides slightly more vitamin B-12 than halibut, but halibut provides slightly more vitamin B-6 and niacin than tilapia. These B vitamins help regulate your energy level, maintain a healthy immune system, aid in production of red blood cells and help metabolize nutrients. Both fish also supply you with similar amounts of the minerals, phosphorus and selenium, which help maintain healthy bones and teeth, break down fats and carbohydrates, keep your thyroid functioning well and protect against harmful free radicals.
Wild versus Farmed
You also have a choice when purchasing tilapia or halibut to select a wild-caught fish or a farmed fish. However, it's more common to see farmed-raised tilapia than halibut. These farm-raised fish are kept in pens in other bodies of water or in tanks on land. Instead of being able to search for food in their natural habitats, they are fed. There is much debate over whether farm-raised or wild-caught fish are a better choice. A January 2004 article in the journal "Science" suggests that farmed fish have higher levels of contaminants than wild-caught fish possibly because of their confined conditions and what they are fed.
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Fish, Tilapia, Cooked, Dry Heat
- Fish, Halibut, Atlantic and Pacific, Cooked, Dry Heat
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- American Cancer Society: Vitamin B Complex
- MedlinePlus: Phosphorus in Diet
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Selenium
- Seafood Health Facts: Making Smart Choices: Tilapia
- Seafood Health Facts: Making Smart Choices: Flat Fish
- Science: Global Assessment of Organic Contaminants in Farmed Salmon