Why Tilapia Is Worse Than Bacon

TilapiaFish is stereotypically the healthiest type of meat, and it is something that doctors often encourage people to eat because of its health benefits. Fish is generally lean, high in protein, low in saturated fat, high in omega-3 fatty acids, and high in vitamins and minerals. Common vitamins and minerals found in fish are vitamin B, vitamin D, vitamin A, iron, selenium, zinc, and iodine.

Not all kinds of fish are created equal, though.

Eating healthy fish regularly reduces your risk of heart disease and dementia, among other illnesses. Many types of fish that you know of are healthy, but tilapia is not among them. Some health professionals have said that, when compared to bacon, tilapia and certain other farm-raised fish varieties can be even worse for your health.

Bacon is high in bad fats and cholesterol, and can contribute to heart disease. It’s important to eat fish, but it’s even more important to make sure that you’re eating the right kinds. There are two basic categories of fish: wild-caught and farm-raised. There are pros and cons to each type, but wild-caught is definitely the healthier variety.

Commonly farm-raised fish types include tilapia, cod, seabass, catfish, and salmon. Some healthy wild-caught fish are salmon, tuna, and sardines. When comparing the average serving of tilapia to the average serving of bacon, the tilapia is often higher in saturated fat, calories, and cholesterol, not to mention toxins acquired through the fish farming process.


Wild-caught fish roam freely in the water, eating aquatic vegetation, insects, smaller fish, et cetera. Because of the variety of food sources available, the meat of wild-caught fish contains more vitamins and minerals than that of farm-raised fish. Wild-caught fish have tons of healthy omega-3 fats and quite low levels of unhealthy fats; omega-3 fatty acid content is one of the biggest health reasons that people strive to eat more fish.

Wild-caught fish have fewer toxins, are less prone to disease, and are not frequently treated with antibiotics like farm-raised fish are. Wild-caught fish have more room to swim around and thus contain more muscle, which translates to lean protein for consumers. Wild-caught fish are healthier than farm-raised fish are, but they’re more expensive. There is also the problem of overfishing: taking too many wild-caught fish out of their habitats can throw the area’s food chain and overall ecology seriously out of whack. Unfortunately, it would be impossible to meet consumer demand using wild-caught fish alone.


Farm-raised fish tend to have more “contaminants” than wild-caught fish do. This may mean PCBs, antibiotics, and toxins in general. These fish are sometimes fed smaller fish that are caught in the same area, which increases the levels of toxins in the fish. Farm-raised fish tend to have higher levels of saturated fat, lower levels of healthy omega-3 fats, and less protein. These fish are contained in smaller, regulated areas of water, and so they are much more prone to disease.

Antibiotics are necessary to treat these diseases, and those same antibiotics are often present in the meat that people consume; this can be a major health risk for consumers.Their diets are very regulated and less comprehensive than a wild diet; the fish consume fewer vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and iron, because of their limited diets. This translates into less nutrient-dense meat for consumers. Farm-raised fish are generally less healthy to consume, however they are much cheaper to produce than wild-caught fish are. Having fish that are raised on a farm helps reduce the issue of overfishing.

Clearly, there are quite a few health concerns that arise when discussing farm-raised fish. If it were possible for everyone to have as much wild-caught fish as they desired and it not annihilate the wild populations, then fish farms would not be as common.

Overfishing is already a major concern, and so fish farms are unfortunately necessary. In some cases, farm-raised fish may simply have slightly less nutrients than wild-caught fish do. In other cases, the fish may contain high levels of certain toxins.

There are regulations on the levels of major toxins found in fish, but if you consume farm-raised fish very regularly, then some toxins can build up in your body and cause issues. Having considered the basic ways that farm-raised fish are less healthy than wild-caught fish, here is why farm-raised tilapia is particularly bad for you – sometimes even more unhealthy than bacon.

The Problems With Tilapia (And Farm-Raised Fish Overall)

  • Farm-raised tilapia causes inflammation. Chronic inflammation throughout the body is a major concern for millions, but especially so for those on the standard American diet. Inflammation is linked to asthma, allergies, heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and hundreds of other diseases. For those with existing inflammatory diseases, regular consumption of tilapia can exacerbate symptoms. A famous study published in 2008 by researchers at Wake Forest University demonstrated that tilapia has the potential to cause even more inflammation in the body than bacon and hamburgers do – and that is really saying something!
  • Almost all farm-raised fish will contain antibiotics and pesticides out of necessity. Hormones are also sometimes used with farmed fish in order to make them grow faster and larger. That does not mean that it is safe to consume them, especially on a consistent basis. These things are regulated and probably won’t cause immediate harm, but long-term consumption definitely can. Consumption of antibiotic-treated meat has been shown to directly lead to gastrointestinal disease.
  • These fish are fed a regulated, nutrient-poor diet, often in the form of pellets. The food is often contaminated with toxins and may contain known carcinogens. The fish are what they eat – and if there are toxins in their food, then there will be toxins in our food, too.
  • They tend to have less healthy fats and more unhealthy fats. They also have fewer minerals like iron and zinc due to their diets. The numbers aren’t that shocking, but by comparison, wild-caught salmon is way healthier.
  • Dibutylin is often found in farm-raised tilapia. This chemical is known to be harmful to humans and animals, especially in terms of its inflammatory properties. Another study published in 2008 found that dibutylin disrupts both immune system function and metabolic function in humans.
  • Dioxin is a chemical that is present in the water. It is an awful carcinogenic chemical pollutant that is in the water because of humans; for example, discarding bleach down the drain increases the level of dioxin in the water. Since fish breathe through water, their bodies contain dioxin as well. Dioxin is a potential issue for practically all seafood, though it certainly doesn’t help tilapia’s case here.

Other farm-raised seafood, such as shrimp, can be just as bad. While there are regulations, they don’t necessarily protect consumers enough. Avoiding farm-raised seafood may not always be possible, but due to the increased levels of toxins in the meat, it should definitely be limited. If you were to consume farm-raised seafood often enough, the levels of certain toxins, as well as antibiotics and hormones, would build up in your body. As far as health goes, wild-caught fish are the better option, especially those that are naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon. On occasion, farm-raised seafood probably isn’t going to do too much harm.Just be sure to do your research and avoid particularly unhealthy kinds like tilapia.


To protect yourself from detrimental effects of the farm-raised fish, go to the next page and find out how you can boost your immune system –


About the Author:

Emma Deangela is the best selling author of The Alkaline Diet Program and 80/20 Fat Loss. She has helped over tens of thousands of men and women to lose weight and transform their health with sound nutrition advice.

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33 responses to “Why Tilapia Is Worse Than Bacon”

  1. Janet Sue Gagliardi Avatar

    i noticed you added Tuna with Salmon and Sardines as “healthy” fish. How can Tuna be healthy when it is commonly said that it is full of Mercury?

  2. BC Orintas Avatar
    BC Orintas

    Thank you for the info about tilapia. I have never had it but my friends rave about it.
    Thanks also for the info about wild caught fish. That is the only kind I eat, even though my friends use farm raised. I always choose wild caught except for shrimp and scallops because I have never found any that are.
    I am going to pass this infor to my friends, I also think I will buy your book because I need a book that wil help me to eat more alkallne food. I, like many people, need that to reduce inflammation. I hope I can get it in a book store and not online.

  3. Christene Avatar

    Sure glad I don’t like tilapia. It always tastes like it is mossy. I have tried it several times and a coupe bites might taste good then the next one is terrible.

    1. Calvin Clark Avatar
      Calvin Clark

      If you soak your fish with milk or creamer a few hrs before you cook it; it takes the fishy mossy tastes away

  4. Mrs. Edythe Eisenstein (Edie) Avatar
    Mrs. Edythe Eisenstein (Edie)

    This was such a wonderful article to read…and I would really like to be part of your mailing list, if possible.

    Thank you.

  5. Joanne Avatar

    There are options to make wild caught fish more sustainable [I know they do this with salmon, but I’m not sure about other species.] Hatchery fish programs, where wild eggs are harvested by catching wild fish, harvesting & hatching their eggs; these fish are raised to a certain size, then released into the wild. The fish consider this area where they are released home & return after a few years to spawn. At this time a certain # are harvested for eggs again, the rest are mostly caught for food. This makes the pressure on totally wild runs less intense while keeping all the health benefits of wild caught fish, and is self sustaining.

  6. Sheryl Bowman Avatar
    Sheryl Bowman

    Can you provide a link for the 2008 Wake Forest study re tilapia causing inflammation?

  7. KAY48 Avatar

    If author opinion about tilapia is mostly correct, comparing it to bacon is very miserable.
    More and more nutritionists and doctors are(finally!!!) in favor of opinion that saturated fats are not such an evil.
    And for sure, organic bacon is good for you.!


    VERY ASTONISHED AND SCARED ABOUT EATING TILAPIA!!! This is about the cheapest and usually AVAILABLE to us, in Hongkong, Thank you, SILMY

  9. Elizabeth yuster Avatar
    Elizabeth yuster

    I agree there are problems with farm raised fish, but even many wild fish are suffering in population. With Tilapia, avoid farm-raised fish from China, where pollution laws are more lax. The statements about farm-raised fish are generally true, but are necessary due to depleted fisheries, with poor future rebound expectations, due to Climate change.Wild-caught fish may be gathered in nets 10 miles long, trapping every animal (+target fish). All other animals caught and killed are thrown overboard. This is known as By-Catch. Here is where I differ regarding Farm-raised seafood. Shrimp. Wild-Caught shrimp are collected by trawlers scraping the bottom of a Reef Ecosystem. These biologically diverse Reef ecosystems are damaged or destroyed, and of all the various animals collected to catch shrimp, 75% are NOT Shrimp, so they are dead By-Catch, and dumped Overboard. Sometimes, we have to compromise. The Tuna industry yielded to demands for Dolphin-free Tuna. {By the way, albacore has higher Mercury levels than chunk light). I choose not to eat shrimp at all. When buying wild-fish, look for species that are ‘Sustainably’ harvested. MSc. Environmental Scientist

  10. Mike Avatar

    I grow (culture) tilapia inland in a pond with stocking rates of 3,000 fishes per hectare. I use chemical & organic fertilizers to grow planktons to feed them. Since i am not stocking at high densities there is no need for commercial feed or use of anti-biotics.

    Not all cultured fish are bad for our health.

  11. Jamie Hurst Avatar

    What about tuna, salmon and etc. What about that mercury?

    1. Nancy Nanarello Avatar
      Nancy Nanarello

      Wild Caught Salmon, doesn’t contain any mercury, pesticides or other dangerous chemicals. Yes, tuna does contain some but you have to weigh the benefits with the danger here. Light Tuna has a lot less Mercury than regular kind. And, tuna as well as salmon contains high levels of Omega-3’s. I always buy wild caught salmon from Alaska. I think that’s the most pure of any other kind.

  12. Alicia Avatar

    Hello Diet Sage,
    You share interesting and potentially helpful information I only wish you would share references to support the recommendations you provide. Thanks you!

  13. carolann siegle Avatar
    carolann siegle

    I did have this fish a few time’s. l so enjoy my Salmon, plus my husband has Sardines once a week. Tuna only some recipe.

    Thank You, Carolann

  14. J. M. Cedeño Avatar
    J. M. Cedeño

    In China, the tilapia used for water cleansing purposes from human feces.

    1. susan Young Avatar
      susan Young

      I have read where Tilapia from China is horrible with human feces . I refuse to eat it or serve it to my family.

  15. Duane Avatar

    I raised Tilapia in an aquaponics system when I lived in Texas. Never fed anything but algae that grew in my biofilter tank and roots and leaves of the plants I grew in the system. Did this because I found out that with farm raised Tilapia, the commercial hatcheries take the newborn fry (baby fish) and feed then a food which has high doses of Testosterone in it. This can change the female fry into males at this early age. I do not know about anyone else, but this seems like a bad thing to me, so I grew my own. Do like the taste. Do not raise them right now because I moved to a farm in Missouri, and do not have my aquaponics system up yet.

  16. Lena Schimmoeller Avatar
    Lena Schimmoeller

    Thanks for the info on farm raised fish. I have been eating farm raised salmon the last 20 years on a daily basis. Had no idea they were given antibiotics that can end up in the meat. I am making a change today. Thank you so very much.

  17. Robert Pezzullo Avatar
    Robert Pezzullo

    I always thought tilapia was good for you I guess I was wrong.

  18. Janice Avatar

    Born and raised here in Florida, the best fish comes from the Oceans and the Gulf. This article was very informative was not aware of the use of drugs on farm raised Talapia & Salmon. Will make healthier choices now when it comes to fish. Snook and Grouper deserve a review, because it is the next two Floridian favorites.

  19. Alex Rutafa Avatar
    Alex Rutafa

    thanks for your article, however you have made an assumpion that all tilapia are farm raised but here in Africa tilapia is wild raised in frsh water lakes and rivers.

    the valid concern would have been that tilapia is said to contain Omega 6 which is not healthy unlike other fish like Nile Perch which contain Omega 3

    1. L Avatar

      Good info. In the American diet, there is the bigger problem of omega 6s from vegetable oils used so much in salad dressings like Ranch Dressing. Like chemistry equations, there should be an appropriate balance i.e. 2 times more omega 3s than 6s. Everyone must monitor their intake for stellar health. PS: I can find no info regarding Wake Forest University doing a study.

  20. Doris Williams Avatar
    Doris Williams

    Your newsletter info is priceless! I care about my health and find the info you share to be a REAL health blessing. Thank you — keep up the good work!

  21. Doris Williams Avatar
    Doris Williams

    Your newsletter is very informative. I’m delightfully educated about learning about healthy and unhealthy food. Thank you so much much for sharing. I truly care about my health and food wisdom helps me to stay on top of it.

    Keep up the good work!

  22. Vicky Hagemeister Avatar
    Vicky Hagemeister

    Generally I find Emma Deangela’s information to be accurate, but the information in this article is out of date, overly simplified and, in some cases, wrong.

    Wild caught fish are heavily contaminated with heavy metals such as mercury and this is particularly true of predatory fish such as tuna and salmon. In general, the higher on the food chain and the longer lived the fish species, the more likely you are ingesting dangerous heavy metals. Just this year pregnant women and young children were advised to avoid tuna altogether because of the quantity of heavy metals found in their flesh.

    Talapia, on the other hand, is a vegetarian fish and thus less likely to contain heavy metals acquired from eating other fish. In fact, talapia ranks as one of the safest fish to eat when it comes to mercury contamination.

    The problem with farmed talapia is with where the fish was raised. Chinese talapia is widely viewed to be problematic because of the filthy conditions under which it is raised, but this is not true of talapia raised in the U.S. or Latin America where attention to cleanliness is much greater.

    Emma remarks that wild caught fish are more likely to have higher quantities of healthy fats. This is not true. Wild fish usually have less body fat because they are more active so if you are eating fish for the omega fat benefits, farmed fish is a better option.

    One thing that the advocates of eating wild caught fish rarely discuss and which Emma glosses over, is the perilous state of wild fish populations. The most popular fish for human consumption have declined by 90% in the last 60 years. Overall, the oceans contain just 10% of the animals they contained 100 years ago.

    Fisheries all over the world are taking fish at such a rate that fish don’t even have enough time to reproduce. Remember orange roughy? That fish was for sale everywhere a couple of decades ago, but now it seems to have disappeared. It turns out that roughys don’t start reproducing until they are 20 years old and 30 years of heavy fishing depleted the wild stock off of Australia by 90%. The populations have not recovered.

    Another factor that human fish eaters don’t consider is that they aren’t the only ones eating fish. Every mammal and fish in the oceans that depend on eating other fish for their survival are being driven to extinction by human over-fishing. This is particularly a problem for whales. So remember that with every wild caught fish you eat you are contributing to the starvation of an animal who has no other choices when it comes to food.

  23. nicole Avatar

    so informative and comments interesting, especially this last one from Vicky

  24. Joe braun Avatar
    Joe braun

    How about farm raised Swai from Vietnam. Best eating fish ever..Is it safe? Sold at Krogers. Cheap and
    Taste much better than Talipia and salmon.

  25. Jason Taylor Avatar
    Jason Taylor

    cite sources, or this is just an opinion. This is a blanket statement and there is no grey area? That’s nonsense and you are a sensationalist like most. Thumbs down.

  26. alex Avatar

    Dear Emma,

    I respect you very much. You have the courage to say the truth, however the statement you made- “Bacon is high in bad fats and cholesterol, and can contribute to heart disease.” doesn’t make any sense. What you mean when you say “bad fats”.? Do you mean saturated fats? It’s already proven that saturated fats and dietary cholesterol don’t contribute to heart disease.

  27. B Avatar

    I have come to the conclusion that pretty much everything is bad for you or has a down side so………………. I say everything in moderation!!!

  28. Tom Avatar

    Everything it moderation is very bad advice but I’m also going to dispute here that all farm raised fish is bad for you. We know that salmon is because of the methods but others it’s the only way you can get it and if it’s raised inland in pens with a constant turnover of the water, it can actually be good for you. One type of fish where this applies is arctic char, sort of a combination of salmon and trout, I suppose. It’s milder than salmon, cheaper, and a nutritional powerhouse. Please don’t take articles that vilify everything as gospel. They are not. Do your own research.

    1. Nancy Nanarello Avatar
      Nancy Nanarello

      Well Tom, farm raised fish are raised in such close quarters that in order to avoid disease, they are fed antibiotics, and exposed to pesticides in order to avoid contamination by other unwanted invaders in their space. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need to become immune to antibiotics from this, or ingest chemical pesticides either.

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