Tilapia Bad For Heart

Is Tilapia Bad for Your Heart?

Although the media is encouraging the consumption of fish for its fatty acid content, recent studies are begging the question: Is tilapia bad for your heart? Tilapia seems to be one of the most popular types of fish these days—in fact some might say it is the latest craze, particularly in the Western world. But the truth is that not all fish are as healthy as one another. Some are considered high risk because of their high mercury content or high in the undesirable variety of fatty acid. So, is tilapia bad for your heart? Let’s take a look at what science has to say.

Fatty Acids: Omega-3 vs. Omega-6

Fatty acids are a crucial compound to the human body. It is often produced when the body breaks down fat, however it can also be absorbed through various types of food. Fatty acids are important for a number of reasons. For instance, they help the blood transport oxygen to cells all over the body, as well as aid in the development and functionality of cellular membranes. They also improve and maintain organ and tissue strength. Fatty acids are also great at maintaining healthy and youthful looking skin and in some instances can encourage weight loss.

There are two main types of fatty acids, which are omega-3 and omega-6. Omega-3 is the healthier fatty acid of the two for many reasons. It has anti-inflammatory properties as well as being an immune system booster. It has also been proven to improve brain health in many ways. Those who consume omega-3 are less likely to suffer from emotional, mental, and psychiatric disorders. In some cases it even helps to lower one’s cholesterol count by raising the “good” (HDL) cholesterol which keeps the “bad” (LDL) cholesterol in check. It would be really difficult for a person to consume too much omega-3 to the point that it becomes unhealthy.

Unfortunately, omega-6 requires a bit more regulation. Omega-6 is also crucial in order to maintain good brain health and for the body’s tissues to grow at a healthy and normal rate. It also promotes inflammation, which can be a good thing with certain medical conditions but could cause issues in conditions such as arthritis or allergies. The key to utilizing the health benefits of omega-6 without suffering the negative effects of this fatty acid is by maintaining a healthy balance between omega-3 and omega-6. A 1:4 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is the average recommendation.

Negative Effects

Having too much omega-6 in one’s diet can actually be damaging to one’s health. This is largely due to the pro-inflammation traits that omega-6 carries. Inflammation is a natural occurrence in the body that crops up whenever damage to the cells or a foreign body enters the tissues. The local temperature of the tissues rises which results in swelling and redness. This localized change prevents the spread of infection as well as allergens and toxins from entering the body. Unfortunately, if too much omega-6 is ingested, the result could mean the spread of inflammation all over the body. Even with the LDL cholesterol-lowering effects of fatty acids, this widespread inflammation can result in a heightened risk of heart disease. Other possible effects are the development of a neural illness such as Alzheimer’s or the development of pain in the joints, such as with arthritis.


Let’s go back to our question of Is tilapia bad for your heart? Tilapia is a type of fish that has very little to offer in the way of omega-3 fish oil, however it has an abundance of omega-6. Omega-6 does still contribute to one’s health, but because it can be found in so many other foods, such as cooking oil, flaxseed, dairy products, as well as game meats like venison and bison, it is unnecessary to focus on tilapia as a source of omega-6. One should instead focus on eating varieties of fish that are high in omega-3 fish oil.

Healthier Fish to Eat

There are plenty of alternatives to tilapia that are much healthier in terms of fatty acid. Salmon, rainbow trout, pollock, flounder, perch, haddock, herring, and mackerel are just a few of the varieties of fish that are healthier than tilapia in regards to fatty acids, but also in regards to their mercury content (most of which have less mercury than tilapia which is ranked as “moderate” on the mercury scale).