Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The Truth About Tilapia Revealed

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Not all fish are created equal, and one of the types you've probably heard a lot about

is tilapia.

It's definitely not one of the highly sought-after types of fish, and you've probably heard that

it's bad for you, for various reasons.

But how much of it is true?

Today, tilapia is fished, farmed, and raised all over the world, but according to Berkeley

Wellness, the fish originated in the Middle East and Africa was once known for being a

food fit for a pharaoh.

According to the Southern Regional Aquaculture Center, depictions of tilapia have been found

on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs, suggesting they weren't just an important part of diets

around 3,000 years ago, but they were important enough to be immortalized.

And if you're familiar with the biblical story about Jesus making just a few loaves of bread

a few fish into a meal for 5,000 people, The New York Times says scholars believe those

fish were most likely tilapia.

Some tilapia farms raise fish in cramped and crowded conditions that allow disease to spread


Some farms likewise aren't all that concerned about what they're dumping into surrounding


According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch, avoid tilapia imported from China if

you want to keep away from fish raised under those types of practices.

If you're looking for tilapia that have been raised under responsible, environmentally

friendly conditions, look for some from Peru and Ecuador.

And according to the Ocean Wise Seafood Program, tilapia from Mexico, Indonesia, and Honduras

are also eco-friendly options, along with fish farmed in the U.S. in a recirculating

aquaculture system.

"But it's really important from a food sustainability standpoint that we start developing sustainable

ways to develop aquaculture as a food production mechanism in the United States."

In 1988, WorldFish kicked off the Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia project with the goal

of perfecting a strain of tilapia for raising on a commercial scale.

What followed was a "systematic breeding program" where researchers selected the fish with the

genetic traits they wanted to pass on and bred those fish.

The program started with wild tilapia from various locales and resulted in tilapia that

grow 85 percent faster.

Since 2017, a weirdly popular meme about tilapia claims the fish is a "mutant" full of cancer-causing

toxins, with no skin and no bones.

"Have you tried not being a mutant?"

Snopes says that there is some truth to the meme, namely that most tilapia comes from

farms and is raised on genetically modified foods, depending on its source.

But it isn't dangerous.

Also, the fish clearly has bones and skin.

As for the toxins, there's the potential for dangerous levels of mercury and other chemicals

to show up in any kind of fish, so that's another bit of scare-mongering, too.

The Washington Post reported that another rumor claims tilapia isn't good for you because

a lot of it is fed with livestock waste, and its basis comes from the U.S. Department of

Agriculture's 2009 report on how fish imported from China were raised.

And according to Seafood Watch, manure is often used in the process of raising fish,

usually dumped into ponds to feed plankton and other organisms that the fish actually


That practice can potentially increase the chance bacteria like salmonella will find

its way into the fish, but it only happens at some farms.

Bottom line: Know where the fish you buy comes from.

Tilapia has a bad reputation when it comes to how healthy it is, but it's a little more

complicated than that.

Healthline says that even though it's a super low-calorie fish, it's also got a ton protein,

26 grams in a 3.5 ounce serving.

It's also high in B12, niacin, and potassium.

It's low in fat, too, but that's part of the problem.

When you compare tilapia to salmon, you'll find that serving of salmon has about 10 times

the health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids.

Tilapia has more omega-6 fatty acids, which is not nearly as good for you as the other


Some pseudo-nutritionists have claimed that tilapia is worse for you than bacon, but that's

a case of twisted facts.

According to Berkeley Wellness, the bacon rumor got started thanks to a 2008 study published

in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

They were looking at the ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s in tilapia, and found that it

has roughly twice as many omega-6s.

But omega-6 is found in much higher amounts in other foods, like seeds and nuts.

And tilapia has far fewer calories, and less saturated fat and sodium than bacon.

So should you add tilapia to your menu or skip it?

If someone in your family doesn't like fish, Berkeley Wellness says that tilapia might

just be the perfect gateway fish.

It's mild, very lean, and it doesn't have the strong "fishy" taste and smell that turns

a lot of people off.

The National Fisheries Institute says that at the end of the day, tilapia is perfectly


It's low-calorie, super sustainable, and very versatile.

If you're looking for fish to get the big nutritional punch you've heard so much about,

Medical News Today says there are other types that contain more omega-3 fatty acids and

might be a better option.

Those are fish like red snapper, trout, cod, salmon, mackerel, and even sardines.

Here's a wild fact, though: Sometimes if you're eating what you think is one of those fish,

you're actually eating tilapia.

"You've been duped, suckers."

Seafood fraud is rampant, and according to Oceana, as much as 21 percent of seafood is


The worst offenders are restaurants and small markets, and among the most commonly mislabeled

fish are sea bass and snapper.

A shocking 55 percent of the time, customers weren't getting sea bass, and they weren't

getting snapper 42 percent of the time.

Instead, they were getting tilapia or perch.

Tilapia has also been labeled as Alaskan or Pacific cod.

If you want to know what you're really getting, large chain grocery stores tend to have the

best record when it comes to accurately labeling exactly what it is they're selling.

So enjoy that tilapia you're eating, whether you know it's what you're eating or not.

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