If you like fish and chips, then you've probably enjoyed fried cod. This mild, sweet fish makes a healthy addition to your diet, unless it's covered in fish fry batter and deep fried in a vat of oil. There are healthy ways to "fry" cod fillets so you get the flavor and the benefits.
What Is Cod Anyway?
In the United States, the cod you find at your grocery store may be either Atlantic cod or Pacific cod, which are both members of the groundfish species of fish, according to the website Seafood Health Facts: Making Smart Choices. However, more often than not, the cod you find at your grocery store is Pacific cod.
You can find cod fillets fresh or frozen, as well as smoked, dried, salted and canned. As previously noted, cod is also one of the many types of groundfish used to make the very popular fish and chips.
Like other types of fish, cod is low in calories and fat and a good source of protein. According to the nutrition information provided by the USDA, a 3.5-ounce serving of baked or broiled cod has 87 calories, 19 grams of protein, 0.5 gram of total fat and 0.1 gram of saturated fat.
Because fish like cod are so low in fat and saturated fat, the American Heart Association (AHA) suggests you eat two servings of fish every week, including fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fats that may reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
However, because cod is so low in fat, it's not a particularly good source of omega-3 fatty acids like the fattier salmon is. But compared to red meat, cod makes a healthier, lower-fat choice.
Read more: Is Cod a Healthy Fish to Eat?
Fried Fish and Health
Cod fillets make a nutritious addition to your diet and are encouraged by health organizations like the AHA. However, fried cod may not offer the same health benefits. In fact, fried fish may be bad for your health and your heart.
According to a January 2019 prospective cohort study published in BMJ, frequent consumption of fried foods, including fried fish, increased risk of death from all causes, including cardiovascular disease. Though this study only included postmenopausal women, the authors suggested that reducing intake of fried foods, including fried fish, would benefit everyone's health.
Compared to baked or broiled cod, coated and fried cod is also much higher in calories and fat, especially saturated fat. According to the USDA nutrition information, a 3.5-ounce serving of coated and fried cod made with butter has 186 calories, 16 grams of protein, 9 grams of total fat and 4.9 grams of saturated. The extra calories and fat in fried foods may explain some of the negative health consequences found in the BMJ study.
Read more: How to Bake Cod Fish in Foil
Simple Pan-Fried Cod Recipes
You can create simple pan-fried cod recipes that are full of flavor, but without all the fat and empty calories like your beer batter fish. First, heat your skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
For your fish, pat your fillets dry with a paper towel and dredge the fillets in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and dip in an egg wash (whole egg beaten). Then coat your cod fillets with whole-grain bread crumbs.
Cook your fillets until your fish has reached an internal cooking temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, about four to five minutes per side. Serve your simple pan-fried cod recipes with slices of fresh lemon.
- Seafood Health Facts: Making Smart Choices: "Cod"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Cod, Baked or Broiled, Made Without Fat"
- American Heart Association: "Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids"
- BMJ: "Association of Fried Food Consumption With All Cause, Cardiovascular, and Cancer Mortality: Prospective Cohort Study"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Cod, Coated, Fried, Made With Butter"
- FoodSafety.gov: "Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Charts"