Americans don't get enough health-promoting seafood in their diet, according to the publication "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010." Eating 8 ounces of seafood a week reduces your risk of heart disease. If you want to eat more fish but don't like the fishy flavor, you might want to consider tilapia, which is a white fish with a mild taste. Like other types of seafood, tilapia is high in protein, low in calories and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
When it comes to calories, tilapia makes a low-calorie choice. A 3.5-ounce serving of cooked tilapia contains 128 calories. By comparison, the same serving of roasted chicken breast without the skin contains 165 calories. Americans already consume more calories than they expend, according to "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010." Including low-calorie foods like tilapia in your diet can help you cut calories without sacrificing portion size.
High in Protein
Tilapia is a good source of protein, with 26 grams in a 3.5-ounce serving. In general, women need 46 grams of protein a day, and men need 56 grams. So one serving of tilapia meets about half your daily protein needs. Additionally, as an animal source of protein, tilapia supplies all the essential amino acids, which means it's a complete source of protein. Your body can then use the protein in the tilapia to build and maintain its protein stores.
Tilapia is low in fat but a good source of the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. A 3.5-ounce serving of cooked tilapia contains 3 grams of total fat and 131 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. The "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010" says you need about 250 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids a day. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats, which means your body cannot manufacture them. Such fatty acids help reduce inflammation in your body and may reduce your risk of heart disease.
Vitamins and Minerals
Tilapia can help you meet your magnesium and B-vitamin needs but is an especially good source of vitamin D. Magnesium is a mineral that supports bone health and is needed to help regulate blood sugar and blood pressure. The B vitamins help turn the food you eat into energy. Vitamin D is found in very few foods, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Although your body can make vitamin D through sun exposure, it's also important that you include good food sources of the vitamin in your diet. Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium and is also an important nutrient for bone health.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Fish, Tilapia, Cooked, Dry Heat
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Chicken, Broilers or Fryers, Breast, Meat Only, Cooked, Roasted
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Magnesium
- MedlinePlus: B Vitamins
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D