The true chicken-of-the-sea, tilapia is a mild-tasting white fish that’s cheap to breed and easy to sell. In fact, for the first time in 2012, farmed fish production topped that of beef, reaching a record 66 million tons, compared with beef at 63 million. But there’s a dirty secret about tilapia, the lean-meat alternative that beckons you in the supermarket–promises of muscle tone, a healthy heart and beautiful skin ringing in your ears. While most health experts agree we should be eating more fish (for all the reasons listed above), research has found the inflammatory potential of farmed tilapia to be greater than a burger, doughnuts—even pork bacon! It gets worse …
It’s the Worst Kind of Fat:
Compared with other fish, farmed tilapia contains relatively small amounts of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids–the heart-healthy and essential fish oils touted by health and nutrition experts as the main reason to eat fish frequently. While a portion of salmon has over 2,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, a serving of tilapia has a mere 135 milligrams. Moreover, because farmed tilapia subsist on a diet of corn and soy instead of lake plants, they’re proportionally sky high in omega-6 fats, which studies have proven to harm the heart, the brain, and even your mood. The Wake Forest University study that produced the tilapia vs. bacon findings revolves around this dangerous omega 6:3 proportion.
They Have the Crappiest Diet:
There’s a good chance the tilapia on your plate was raised on a poop diet (that’s poop as a noun, not an adjective). Research from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future revealed the gory details of disease-ridden fish farms in Asia, where pig and chicken feces serve as a cheaper alternative to standard fish food. While the FDA vehemently denied any of these goings-on, the Johns Hopkins investigation revealed only 2 percent of imported seafood to the United States is actually tested for contamination. It’s not just mega gross. Experts worry that the large amounts of antibiotics given to the fish to ward off infections may give rise to antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella.