Tilapia vs Salmon: The Complete Comparison

Tilapia and salmon are both known to be great sources of nutrients. Let’s examine if one is better than the other.

Salmon contains a higher percentage of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, 870% more per 100 grams. Salmon provides more vitamins and minerals than tilapia including potassium, B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, iron, niacin, folate, zinc and phosphorus.

Even though salmon might be the healthier and a less risky choice, both fish meats are beneficial for one’s health. Details on the nutritional value of each fish are good to keep in mind though, so I examine them in detail. In addition, their tastes, textures, substitutions, mercury levels and costs.

Tilapia vs Salmon: Raw Nutrient Comparison

Salmon on the left and tilapia on the right.
Salmon on the left and tilapia on the right

As a Certified Health Coach many clients ask me about food comparisons including tilapia and salmon. I purchase and consume salmon every week. Therefore, I have researched this topic in the past and present. Let’s examine them closely starting with nutrients.

Below is a complete nutrient comparison of both raw fish per four ounces.

Nutrient Salmon, raw (4 Ounces) Tilapia, raw(4 Ounces)
Calories 161 109
Fat 7.2 g  1.9 g
Protein 23 g  23 g
Omega-3 1.95 g  0.20 g
B-6 0.9 mg  0.1 mg
B-12 3.6 mcg  1.7 mcg
Thiamin 0.20 mg 0.04 mg
Riboflavin 0.40 mg 0.07 mg
B5 1.8 mg 0.5 mg
Iron 0.9 mg 0.6 mg
Niacin 8.9 mg  4.4 mg
Folate 28.3 mcg  27.22 mcg
Potassium 555 mg  342 mg
Magnesium 32 mg  30 mg
Phosphorus 226 mg  192 mg
Calcium 13.6 mg  11.3 mg
Zinc 0.7 mg 0.3 mg
Selenium 41.4 mcg  47.4 mcg

Nutrient source: Nutrition Value12

The table above compares the major nutrients, minerals and vitamins side-by-side.

Salmon is better than tilapia due to its higher percentage of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. Salmon contains 9 times more omega-3 fatty acids than tilapia. Salmon also contains more B6, B12, B5, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, potassium, zinc and phosphorus.

Although tilapia contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals itself and is considered healthy. It doesn’t contain an overwhelming number of any nutrient more than salmon.

Both fish have similar percentages of protein, selenium, calcium and magnesium. In addition, tilapia contains less calories due to the extra healthy fat contained in salmon.

When comparing both, it may seem like salmon is not as healthy as tilapia because of the high-fat content. However, the omega-3 fatty acids that salmon is high in actually have many nutritional benefits.

While tilapia may not be as healthy, what about cod vs salmon? Check out the battle of these heavyweights in my article here, Cod vs Salmon: Is One Better?

Below you can view the nutritional information of a 100g portion of cooked salmon (baked) according to the USDA3.

Nutrients Amount Unit
Energy 154 kcal
Protein 25.8 g
Total Lipid Fat 4.83 g
Fiber 0 g
Potassium 550 mg
Cholesterol 95 mg
Total Saturated Fatty Acids 1.08 g
Total Monosaturated Fatty Acids 1.98 g
Total Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids 1.15 g

To check the nutritional information for 100g of tilapia (baked) according to USDA4, take a look at the table below.

Nutrients Amount Unit
Energy 128 kcal
Protein 26.2 g
Total Lipid Fat 2.65 g
Fiber 0 g
Potassium 380 mg
Cholesterol 57 mg
Total Saturated Fatty Acids 0.94 g
Total Monosaturated Fatty Acids .955 g
Total Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids 0.6 g

It’s important to mention that salmon has more omega-3 fatty acids than tilapia. Tilapia has a higher amount of omega-6 fatty acids, which can be harmful in large quantities.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important to one’s diet because it decreases inflammation in the blood vessels. Omega-6 fatty acids can cause more inflammation, which is one reason why tilapia isn’t as healthy as salmon.

The good types of fat included in the tables above are monosaturated and polyunsaturated. It’s clear that salmon has more of these good types of fat in comparison to tilapia. Saturated fat isn’t as bad as trans fat, but it’s still not the best for your body.

Tilapia and Salmon Benefits

Both tilapia and salmon have many benefits since they are both great sources of proteins, minerals, vitamins and fat5. Here are some of the benefits of each fish:


  • Omega-3 fatty acids are able to aid heart, vision, and joint strength.
  • Reduces health risks.
  • A good alternative to other types of meat like pork, meat, or chicken is due to the low fat and high protein content6.
Salmon dinner with asparagus.
Salmon dinner with asparagus


  • High levels of Vitamin B accounts for a healthy balance of bodily functions.
  • Selenium in salmon helps the thyroid function properly.
  • High omega-3 fatty acid content lowers joint inflammation and cholesterol.
  • A combination of Vitamin A and Omega-3 acids can enhance eyesight.

Omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy and help keep the blood vessels healthy and cholesterol levels low. DHA and EPA fatty acids are associated with lowering blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels ((National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease)).

Both fish contain good amounts of potassium and magnesium. Potassium is beneficial for combating high sodium intake because it helps the body reduce fluids and rids excess sodium ((American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure)). This process helps to reduce blood pressure.

Magnesium is also beneficial for the heart and improves blood pressure. It achieves this by helping the blood vessels to relax and controls other nutrients like potassium and calcium7.

Read the mercury section of the article below to learn more about the mercury levels in tilapia and salmon.

Tilapia vs Salmon: Taste, Color, and Texture

Tilapia being cooked in a frying pan.
Tilapia being cooked in a frying pan

Tilapia Taste and Texture

Compared to many other fish, Tilapia is very mild (maybe even a little sweet tasting) and lacks the “fishy” taste. Although the way the fish was raised can cause the taste to vary. The lack of flavor in this fish makes it a very popular choice. The meat is a perfect canvas for a variety of spices and flavors.

Before a tilapia is cooked, it is a pinkish-white color. Once tilapia has been dry cooked, the meat turns white and is very tender and falls apart quite easily. However, this result can vary depending on how the tilapia is cooked.

Salmon Taste and Texture

Salmon is also known to have a more mild taste, which is why the fish is extremely popular. Salmon has a very aromatic and oily flavor and texture. However, there are multiple breeds of salmon, and each of them has its own flavor.

Keta (chum or dog) salmon is known for its mild, delicate taste while Sockeye salmon has an intense flavor profile. If you want to get a milder taste from your salmon, you can soak it in milk for 20 minutes before cooking.

I wrote a whole article comparing keta and sockeye salmon. Check it out here, Keta vs Sockeye Salmon: What’s The Difference?

It’s also important to mention that salmon should not smell fishy. This is an indication the fish isn’t very fresh. Therefore, when you are purchasing fresh salmon, make sure to smell it before buying it.

Salmon varies in color from pale white all the way to a darker red color. The different breeds and the ways the fish were grown plays a large role in their color. For example, sockeye salmon is a deep red color, while pink salmon is a much lighter color.

Salmon is a dark color when it is fresh but as it cooks, the meat turns more opaque and lighter in color. The texture will be a bit more firm, yet flakey, even after cooking for 6-8 minutes. Just be sure you don’t overcook your salmon.

Tilapia vs Salmon: What’s The Difference?

Salmon is a freshwater and saltwater fish while tilapia are mainly freshwater fish. The average tilapia grows to 14 inches and weighs 5-6 pounds while the larger salmon grows to 28-30 inches and 8-12 pounds.

Tilapia inhabit streams, ponds, rivers and lakes. Salmon inhabit the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and offshore rivers and streams.

Tilapia and Salmon Mercury Levels

The EPA and FDA have issued warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and consuming them8.

They established a list of fish that are best and good choices based on their mercury levels. They also have a third section which are choices to avoid because they have the highest mercury levels.

Tilapia and salmon have similar levels of mercury. Both fish are listed on the FDA’s best choices of fish to consume regarding their mercury levels.

Always check with a physician prior to eating new foods or changing your dietary habits.

Tilapia and Salmon Prices

One of the reasons why tilapia is one of the most popular fish in the US is because it is much cheaper than salmon. Salmon are harder to catch, and they take longer to mature than tilapia. Tilapia is much more low-maintenance and are easier to catch.

However, it’s important to know the costs will vary depending on how the fish are caught. A salmon caught in the ocean will definitely be more expensive than a salmon raised on a farm.

When you are purchasing salmon or tilapia, be sure to check the label to see if the fish were caught in the wild or farm-raised.

Salmon is more expensive than tilapia. The average cost for farm raised salmon is $9.99 per pound while the average cost for farm raised tilapia is $6.99 per pound. The cost will vary depending on location, whether it is farm-raised or wild-caught, fresh or frozen.

I visited and checked my local Shoprite Supermarket and other markets for the current prices of each.

  • Fresh, farm raised tilapia fillet
    • $6.99 per pound
  • Fresh, farm raised kosher tilapia fillet
    • $6.99 per pound
  • Fresh, farm raised Atlantic salmon
    • $9.99 per pound
  • Fresh, wild caught Coho salmon
    • $14.99 per pound
  • Fresh Atlantic salmon steak
    • $10.99 per pound.

If you have any questions to ask me about this article don’t hesitate to comment below or email us. You can find an email on our contact page.

Read Next – More Salmon vs Fish Articles!

Tuna vs Salmon: Which Is Better?

Halibut vs Salmon: Which Is Better?

Trout vs Salmon: Is One More Healthier Than The Other?

Shrimp vs. Salmon: A Complete Comparison

Char vs. Salmon – A Complete Comparison

  1. Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, tilapia []
  2. Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, wild, Atlantic, salmon []
  3. USDA: Fish, salmon, chum, cooked, dry heat []
  4. USDA: Fish, tilapia, cooked, dry heat []
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Benefits of salmon eating on traditional and novel vascular risk factors in young, non-obese healthy subjects []
  6. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Trace minerals in tilapia fillets: Status in the United States marketplace and selenium supplementation strategy for improving consumer’s health []
  7. National Institutes of Health: Magnesium []
  8. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish []

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