Tilapia and salmon are both known to be great sources of lean protein, vitamins and minerals. Therefore, what are the differences between the two types of fish? Is one 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. Tilapia is prone to having more toxins than salmon.
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.
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Tilapia vs Salmon: Raw Nutrient Comparison
Below is a complete nutrient comparison of both raw fish per four ounces.
|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|
The table above compares the major nutrients, minerals and vitamins side-by-side. After examining the numbers above, which is healthier, tilapia or salmon?
Salmon is healthier 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 tilapia to salmon, 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 USDA 3.
|Total Lipid Fat||4.83||g|
|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 USDA 4, take a look at the table below.
|Total Lipid Fat||2.65||g|
|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 fat 5. 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 content 6.
- 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 7.
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 8. 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 calcium 9.
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 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?
What are the differences between tilapia and salmon?
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.
Salmon is renowned for being a part of many diets like keto or heart healthy. Salmon are freshwater fish typically born in fresh water streams or rivers.
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When they are old enough, salmon migrate to the ocean. However, they come back to the river during spawning seasons. This cycle repeats every year at least once 10.
Salmon’s average lifespan is four to five years. The average salmon is 28-30 inches long and weighs 8-12 pounds. King salmon is the largest and can grow up to 58 inches 11.
Tilapia is mainly a freshwater fish. They were originally farmed in their native Africa. They are fast growing and are farmed in many parts of Asia and elsewhere. The three main species are Nile, Blue tilapia and Mozambique 12.
Tilapia mainly inhabit rivers, lakes, streams and ponds. The Mozambique grow the largest in length and the Nile and Blue tilapia are the heaviest.
Tilapia and Salmon Mercury Levels
The EPA and FDA have issued warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and consuming them 13. This is especially important for pregnant women or breastfeeding and for young infants or children.
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. Therefore does tilapia or salmon have more mercury?
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. They recommend eating no more than two to three servings a week.
Always check with a physician prior to eating new foods or changing your dietary habits.
Tilapia and Salmon Risks
Although tilapia and salmon are healthy meat options, there are some things to look out for when eating either of these fish.
Tilapia can have a high number of toxins, called dioxins if they’re bred within a fish farm. Most farms have standards they have to meet, so the chances of having dioxins in your tilapia are low.
Since tilapia has a higher amount of omega-6 fatty acids in comparison to salmon, consuming high amounts of this fish can be bad for their health 14.
However, omega-6 fatty acids are found in many other types of food, and tilapia is one of the healthiest sources of this type of fatty acid.
Salmon can pose some risks, just like tilapia. Since salmon is full of oils, it can be unhealthy if eaten in excess. Another risk of eating too many salmon is consuming pollutants. These can usually be found in the skin or the fat of the salmon, especially if the fish were raised on a farm.
To prevent yourself from consuming salmon with pollutants, it is best to purchase wild-caught salmon in comparison to farm-raised. For more important details about wild-caught or farm raised, check out my article Farm Raised Salmon Compared To Wild Caught Salmon.
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. Therefore, which is more expensive, tuna or salmon?
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 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.
To save some money on fresh seafood, would you believe some can be purchased on Amazon? Check out their current prices and selection, Fresh Seafood.
Read Next – More Salmon vs Fish Articles!
- Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, tilapia
- Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, wild, Atlantic, salmon
- USDA: Fish, salmon, chum, cooked, dry heat
- USDA: Fish, tilapia, cooked, dry heat
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Benefits of salmon eating on traditional and novel vascular risk factors in young, non-obese healthy subjects
- 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
- National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease
- American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
- National Institutes of Health: Magnesium
- The University Of Maine: Maine Seafood Guide – Salmon
- USGS: How many species of salmon are there and how large can they get?
- Wikipedia: Tilapia
- FDA: Advice about Eating Fish
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The content of favorable and unfavorable polyunsaturated fatty acids found in commonly eaten fish