The national dish in Jamaica, saltfish is salted, dried cod. "Food Lover's Companion," a popular culinary guide, recommends preparing saltfish by soaking it several times until some of the salt dissipates and submerging it in boiling water. Italian and Chinese specialty markets sell saltfish because these cultural groups include it in their diets.
A 1 oz. serving of saltfish provides 82 calories, or about 4 percent of a standard 2,000-calorie diet. It also provides 17.8 g of protein, or 36 percent of the 50 g Food and Drug Administration daily requirement. Protein is important for energy because it slows carbohydrates' entry into the bloodstream, which balances blood glucose and maintains a consistent energy supply. Iron provides energy because it transports oxygen to tissues. The requirement is 18 mg daily; salted cod provides 0.7 mg.
Minerals are important for health for many reasons. They provide skeletal structure and balance the body's fluid level. A 1 oz. serving of salted cod provides 45 mg of calcium and 272 mg of phosphorus, two minerals important for strengthening bones and teeth. The FDA daily requirement for each is 1,000 mg.
As antioxidants, selenium and vitamin E work together to prevent disease development. According to the University of Maryland of Medical Center, selenium and vitamin E work together to combat prostate cancer. A 1 oz. serving of salted cod provides 1.2 IU of vitamin E, or 4 percent of the 30 IU FDA daily value, and 42 mcg of selenium, or 60 percent of the 70 mcg FDA daily value.
Saltfish contains a high level of sodium. A 1 oz. serving of salted cod, which is approximately one-third the size of a deck of cards, contains 1,991 mg of sodium, nearly 83 percent of the FDA recommended 2,400 mg maximum daily sodium intake. The soaking process that removes salt during its preparation may reduce the sodium level. Monitoring salt intake is important. The diet for most Americans is high in sodium. Consume a small portion of saltfish, and avoid eating high-sodium foods, such as cured meats and prepackaged and prepared foods, on the same day.
- "Food Lover's Companion"; Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst; 2007
- USDA: Nutrient Data Laboratory: Fish, Cod, Atlantic, Dried and Salted