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Tilapia is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish from the tilapiine cichlid tribe. Tilapia are mainly freshwater fish inhabiting shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes and less commonly found living in brackish water. Historically, they have been of major importance in artisan fishing in Africa and the Middle East, and they are of increasing importance in aquaculture and aquaponics. Tilapia can become problematic invasive species in new warm-water habitats such as Australia, whether deliberately or accidentally introduced, but generally not in temperate climates due to their inability to survive in cold water.
Tilapia is the fourth most consumed fish in the United States dating back to 2002. The popularity of tilapia came about due to its cheap price, easy preparation, and its mild taste.
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Tilapia typically have laterally compressed, deep bodies. Like other cichlids, their lower pharyngeal bones are fused into a single tooth-bearing structure. A complex set of muscles allows the upper and lower pharyngeal bones to be used as a second set of jaws for processing food (cf. morays), allowing a division of labor between the “true jaws” (mandibles) and the “pharyngeal jaws”. This means they are efficient feeders that can capture and process a wide variety of food items. Their mouths are protrusible, usually bordered with wide and often swollen lips. The jaws have conical teeth. Typically tilapia have a long dorsal fin, and a lateral line which often breaks towards the end of the dorsal fin, and starts again two or three rows of scales below. Some Nile tilapia can grow as long as two feet.
Other than their temperature sensitivity, tilapia exist in or can adapt to a very wide range of conditions. One extreme example is the Salton Sea, where tilapia introduced when the water was brackish now live in saltwater so salty that it kills marine fish.
Tilapias are also known to be a mouth breeding species. Mouth breeding means they carry the fertilized eggs and young fish in their mouths for several days after the yolk sac is absorbed.
Tilapia as a common name has been applied to various cichlids from three distinct genera: Oreochromis, Sarotherodon and Tilapia. The members of the other two genera used to belong to the genus Tilapia but have since been split off into their own genera. However, particular species within are still commonly called “tilapia” regardless of the change in their actual taxonomic nomenclature.
The delimitation of these genera among each other and to other tilapiines requires more research; mtDNA sequences are confounded because at least among the species of any one genus, there is frequent hybridization. The species remaining in Tilapia in particular still seem to be a paraphyletic assemblage.
Whole tilapia fish can be processed into skinless, boneless (Pin-Bone Out, or PBO) fillets: the yield is from 30 percent to 37 percent, depending on fillet size and final trim.
Tilapia is one of several commercially important aquaculture species (including trout, barramundi and channel catfish) susceptible to off-flavors. These ‘muddy’ or ‘musty’ flavors are normally caused by geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol, organic products of ubiquitous cyanobacteria that are often present or bloom sporadically in water bodies and soil. These flavours are no indication of freshness or safety of the fish, but they make the product unattractive to consumers. Simple quality control procedures are known to be effective in ensuring the quality of fish entering the market.
In a freshwater soilless pond system the fish will not have these flavors. Fish raised in man-made lakes tend to absorb the flavor of the ground. A concrete pond with plants to clean the water is a much better system. It is also important that the fish only get fed as much food as they can eat. If the food is left over in the tank it will break down in the water leaving a bad odor that leads to an unwanted taste in the fish.
Tilapia have very low levels of mercury, as they are fast-growing, lean and short-lived, with a primarily vegetarian diet, so do not accumulate mercury found in prey. Tilapia are low in saturated fat, calories, carbohydrates and sodium, and are a good protein source. They also contain the micronutrients phosphorus, niacin, selenium, vitamin B12 and potassium.
Multiple studies have evaluated the effects of adding flaxseed derivatives (a vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids) to the feed of farmed tilapia. These studies have found both the more common omega-3 fatty acid found in the flax, ALA and the two types almost unique to animal sources (DHA and EPA), increased in the fish fed this diet. Guided by these findings, tilapia farming techniques could be adjusted to address the nutritional criticisms directed at the fish while retaining its advantage as an omnivore capable of feeding on economically and environmentally inexpensive vegetable protein. Adequate diets for salmon and other carnivorous fish can alternatively be formulated from protein sources such as soybean, although soy-based diets may also change in the balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Nutritional Value Of Tilapia:-
Tilapia is highly valued as a seafood source due to its many beneficial qualities, which are attributed to its wealth of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, including significant amounts of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, phosphorous, potassium, vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid. Below you will find a more details explanation of the health benefits of tilapia.
Health Benefits Of Tilapia:
One of the most notable health benefits of tilapia is its low calorie count, which is ideal for anyone looking to shed a few pounds. With just 145 calories per serving, you can pair tilapia with a wide range of vegetables for a truly low-calorie and fat burning meal.
Tilapia is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help you maintain a healthy blood pressure and keep heart disease at bay. This is important because many of us with too much fat on our bodies are highly susceptible to these illnesses.
In addition to being loaded with protein, tilapia has plenty of potassium to help prevent post-workout muscle cramps. Other nutrients tilapia contains in abundance includes vitamin B12, which helps keep you mentally alert; niacin, which is necessary to keep your body functioning at an optimal level, and selenium a nutrient known to decrease your risk against cancer and heart disease.
So in addition to being quite low in calories, the health benefits of tilapia include fat burning, improved heart health and good cholesterol (HDL), and a decreased risk of weight-related illnesses.
Growth and Development: One of the most important aspects of tilapia is its impressive protein content, making up more than 15% of our daily requirement in a single serving. Protein is an essential part of our diet, particularly animal proteins, because they can be enzymatically broken down into composite amino acids and reassembled into usable proteins in the human body. Protein is directly linked to proper growth and development of organs, membranes, cells, and muscles. It is particularly important that children consume adequate amounts of protein to ensure that they develop properly. They also are necessary for muscle growth, cellular repair, and proper metabolic activity of numerous organ systems.
Weight Loss: Unlike many other animal products, fish like tilapia are high in protein but low in calories and fats. This can be a good way to reduce your caloric intake, while still giving your body all of the necessary nutrients it needs to function properly. Fish is often turned to as a dietary option for people trying to lose weight, without starving themselves with crash diets.
Bone Health: One of the most prominent minerals found in tilapia is phosphorous, which is an essential mineral for human health, as it is a vital part of the development and growth of bone matter. It is also a necessary element in the maintenance of the teeth and nails, keeping them strong and durable well into your old age. Phosphorous can help prevent osteoporosis, which is the degradation of bone mineral density often suffered by people as they age.
Prevents Prostate Cancer: Like many types of fish, tilapia has a very high content of selenium. The health benefits of selenium are impressive, and are antioxidant in nature. Studies have directly linked selenium intake to a reduction in the risk of prostate cancer, as well as various heart conditions. Additional research is being done on the impact of tilapia’s selenium on other types of cancer. Antioxidants like selenium are famed for their ability to reduce free radical activity in the body, thereby lowering the chances of oxidative stress on all the organ systems, and the mutation of healthy cells into cancerous ones.
Heart Health: Tilapia is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been directly linked to lowering cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels in the human cardiovascular system. Omega-3 fatty acids neutralize the impact of omega-6 fatty acids. There is some controversy about fish in general having high levels of dangerous LDL cholesterol, but studies have shown that the beneficial effects of the omega-3 fatty acids outweigh the risks of omega-6 fatty acids also found in tilapia. Omega-3 fatty acids help to prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. The potassium found in tilapia is also a vasodilator, and reduces blood pressure, which is an additional boost to heart health.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.