A Cook's Diary

Conflicting expert opinion about tilapia

Fish ‘n’ chips, a British tradition. Mine was made with tilapia fillets. But this isn’t about how to make fish ‘n’ chips. I was going to use the photo for a recipe entry but, right now, it is more relevant to use it in this entry.

casaveneracion.com Fish 'n' chips made with tilapia fillets

In a very recent entry in the Well Fed Network, a reference was made to a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association about how tilapia, after taking the world by storm, may not be as good for our health as we thought. In particular, that farm-raised tilapia may be high in Omega-6 fatty acids and lower in Omega-3s, and that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Omega-6 fatty acids are “a type of fatty acid that could trigger inflammation when consumed in excess.” The blog entry links to Martha Stewart’s website where the study was purportedly mentioned in the November 2008 issue of Body + Soul Magazine but the link was to the home page and I couldn’t find the article. Ergo, I decided it was wiser to search Google to find better references to the study.

Well, the study made by the Wake Forest University School of Medicine appears to have been published in July last year (access to the full text in the ADA site requires registration but you can get the gist in Science Daily) and there is that controversial claim that “tilapia has higher levels of potentially detrimental long-chain omega-6 fatty acids than 80-percent-lean hamburger, doughnuts and even pork bacon.”

However, and this is the beef of my blog entry, there have been contrary expert opinions directed against it. But media (and bloggers) were too busy sensationalizing the tilapia scare (read this to see how it all started) that very little attention was given to the opposing views.

… An independent, international coalition of 16 researchers and cardiologists lead by Dr. William Harris, the doctor who authored the editorial in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association that disagreed with the Wake Forest study, has released an open letter publically disagreeing with the report’s conclusions.

The letter takes particular issue with the most sensational claim that bacon, hamburgers or doughnuts might be healthier than tilapia. The letter also notes the agreement of the American Heart Association and the American Dietetic Association, “that omgea-6 fatty acids are, like omgea-3s, heart-healthy nutrients which should be a part of everyone’s diet.” The letter goes on to highlight the fact that the nutrient the Wake Forest study suggest we avoid in tilapia is also found in abundance in chicken, vegetable oil, whole-wheat bread, and nuts. [About Seafood]

Dieticians at the Mayo Clinic say don’t stop eating tilapia and they themselves will continue to eat fish “at least twice weekly…including tilapia and catfish along with others especially high in the good fats such as salmon, tuna and mackerel.”

I wish that the Well Fed Network mentioned them too.

P. S. Slow posting in this blog is because I launched a new one.

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