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Two raw Tilapia filets on a surface with an herb garnish.

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Efficiently farmed and distributed year-round, tilapia is often the freshest option at the market. Look for whole tilapia, if possible, and avoid previously frozen fillets; freezing can damage the fish’s delicate texture and spoil its mild flavor. As with most fresh fish, it’s best eaten as soon as possible, though it can last in the fridge for up to two days.

Aim for Eco-Friendly

As herbivores, tilapia are a sustainable alternative to farmed fish that feed on fishmeal. Because all varieties eat algae, they’re often raised in small bodies of water to reduce excessive algae blooms and improve water quality. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch gives its “best choice” stamp to tilapia farmed worldwide in indoor circulating tanks, Ecuadorian ponds, and Peruvian raceways. The organization recommends avoiding tilapia imported from China, where producers feed the fish antibiotics and raise them in nonsecure pens.

Know Your Nutrients

Tilapia is an excellent source of protein and contains several other important nutrients, including vitamin B12, niacin, and selenium, an antioxidant that may help counter some of the harmful effects of mercury and other heavy metals. Corn- and grain-fed tilapia often contain higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids than those fed on algae, so include some omega-3s in your diet to achieve the right balance. (Learn more about how omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids influence your health at “The Omega Balance”.)

Find Your Flavor

Its mild flavor makes tilapia a fine seafood choice for those who don’t enjoy “fishy” fish. It also pairs well with practically any combination of flavors and can be baked, sautéed, broiled, or steamed. Learn how to make our Almond-Crusted Tilapia at “Almond-Crusted Tilapia”.

This originally appeared as “Tilapia” in the July-August 2020 print issue of Experience Life.

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