Cod is a rich source of protein, healthy fats and several vitamins and minerals. Because of its essential fatty acid content and low amounts of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, the American Heart Association recommends substituting fish, such as cod, for beef and other fattier sources of protein. Cod can vary in nutritional value depending on how it's cooked, but baking or grilling the fillets generally are the healthiest ways.
Fats and Cholesterol
Cod fillets are particularly low in fat with about 1 g in a 231-g serving of raw Pacific cod and 1.55 g in a 231-g Atlantic cod fillet. The majority of the fat in cod fillets are unsaturated. Pacific and Atlantic cod contain about 0.6 g and 0.75 g of unsaturated fats, respectively. Unsaturated fats can help reduce blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cod fillets are a rich source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, specific polyunsaturated fats that, in addition to reducing the risk of heart disease, have been demonstrated to reduce the risk of diabetes and have anti-inflammatory properties that can alleviate symptoms of arthritis. Both Pacific and Atlantic cod contain less than 0.5 g of saturated fat and under 100 mg of cholesterol.
Cod is high in protein, with about 36 g in a 231-g serving of raw Pacific cod and about 41 g in an Atlantic cod fillet. The body needs protein to build new tissue and promote growth, and most adults need between 50 and 175 g per day.
Phosphorous and Selenium
Cod fillets contain 10 minerals, but are are particularly high in phosphorous and selenium. A 231-g serving of raw Pacific cod contains more than 100 percent of the daily value for adults for phosphorous and nearly 100 percent for selenium, while an Atlantic cod fillet contains about 70 percent that of phosphorous and more than 100 percent of the daily value for selenium. The body needs phosphorous to help build strong bones and teeth, while selenium is an antioxidant that helps prevent cellular damage.
A cod fillet's greatest vitamin contribution is its B vitamin content, particularly niacin and choline. B vitamins help convert nutrients into energy for cellular metabolism. Niacin also helps control cholesterol levels and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, while choline is a key component in the structure of the body's cells and can assists with liver function. Pacific cod contains about 17 and 30 percent the daily value for adults for niacin and choline per 231-g serving, respectively, while Atlantic cod contains about 33 and 30 percent that of niacin and choline per fillet, respectively.
- American Heart Association; Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids; September 2010
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Fish, Cod, Pacific, Raw
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Fish, Cod, Atlantic, Raw
- Institute of Medicine; Dietary Reference Intakes; Vitamins and Elements; 2005
- "Essentials of Exercise Physiology"; William D. McArdle; 2006