According to the FDA, Tilapia IS One of the Best Fish to Eat

published Jun 23, 2022
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After years of misinformation about its safety, it turns out tilapia is actually one of the best fish to eat — or at least so says the FDA. Providing the update in its “Advice About Eating Fish” report that was revised earlier this month, the new revelation praises the fish for its low mercury content and encourages it to be eaten by those who are currently pregnant or considering becoming pregnant.

The FDA classified a total of 35 fish and shellfish varieties among the best choices for consumption, including cod, crawfish, oyster, salmon, shrimp, and squid. The report highlights the fact that — among the many benefits of including fish in a healthy diet — it can support a baby’s cognitive development. Tilapia, along with the other “best choice” fish, is a good source of polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. 

Omega-3 fatty acids, according to the National Library of Medicine, can be helpful in preventing depression for those who are pregnant. Omega-6 fatty acids, on the other hand, support healthy brain function in adults and can be helpful in managing eczema, joint damage, arthritis, and osteoporosis, Consumer Health Digest says.

So where did the notion that tilapia was unhealthy originate? It all started with a 2008 study in the ​Journal of the American Dietetic Association, which claimed that the over 100 variants of the fish can increase the risks of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. The claims were quickly decried by medical professionals who even wrote an open letter not only defending tilapia, but also explaining why it is a better choice than some other fish.

Despite lingering hesitation stemming from the study, tilapia is the fourth most-eaten fish in the U.S., mainly due to its lower price point and mild flavor, which makes it easier to incorporate into almost any cuisine. Unfortunately, the USDA says 80 percent of American adults are still falling short of its recommendation that we should be eating seafood at least twice a week.

The organization’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 8 ounces of seafood a week for adults, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. The recommendation for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding is 8 to 12 ounces of low mercury options like tilapia.