You may have heard about blue cod but haven’t seen any in the markets where you shop. You may be wondering if they’re the same as cod or different, after all they share the cod name. Therefore, let’s answer, what’s the difference between blue cod and cod?
Blue cod and cod are from different families of fish and not from the same species. Blue cod is shorter in length than cod and weighs less. Blue cods are blue and green while cod is brownish. Blue cod is found near New Zealand while cod is in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean.
This article will compare all their characteristics including taste, texture, costs, mercury levels and whether you can substitute one for the other. In addition, I’ll examine their nutrients and include as side-by-side comparison.
The Differences Between Blue Cod and Cod
Blue cod and cod share almost the same name but there is more differences than similarities between the two fish. What are the differences between blue cod and cod?
Blue cod and cod are different species. Blue cod is from the Pinguipedidae family while cod is from the Gadidae family. An average blue cod grows up to 23″ long and weighs 2-7 pounds. Cod grows between 27-34″ in length and up to 15 pounds. Adult blue cods are blue with greenish sides while cod is brownish.
Blue cod is exclusively found in the shallow waters around the rocky coasts of New Zealand 1. They are more common in the colder waters from Cook Strait south and around the Chatham Islands. Juveniles are found in shallow waters while the adults may be up to 500 feet down.
Atlantic cod is found in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean from Greenland to North Carolina and in the western Gulf of Maine 2. Pacific cod is found in the North Pacific Ocean from the Bering Sea to California in the east and to the Sea of Japan in the west 3
- Blue cod is from the Pinguipedidae family.
- Cod is from the Gadidae family.
Color and Appearance
- Adult blue cod is blue with greenish sides and a golden stripe above each eye. First is a short low dorsal fin followed by a taller long fin.
- Cod is brownish, with dark spots and has three dorsal fins.
Size and Weight
- Blue cod grows an average of 12-16″ in length and up to 23 inches and weighs 2-7 pounds.
- Cod grows an average 27-34″ in length and weighs 5-15 pounds.
- Blue cod up to 32 years.
- Cod up to 12 years.
Blue Cod and Cod Nutrition Values
The table below lists the nutrients for blue cod and cod.
|Nutrient||Cod, raw (4 Ounces)||Blue Cod, raw (4 Ounces)|
|Fat||0.8 g||2.3 g|
|Protein||23 g||21 g|
|Omega-3||0.22 g||0.73 g|
|B-6||0.2 mg||0.2 mg|
|B-12||1.0 mcg||1.1 mcg|
|Thiamin||0.08 mg||0.15 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.07 mg||0.05 mg|
|B5||0.1 mg||0.1 mg|
|Iron||0.4 mg||0.4 mg|
|Niacin||2.3 mg||5.8 mg|
|Folate||7.9 mcg||15.0 mcg|
|Potassium||468 mg||497 mg|
|Magnesium||36 mg||41 mg|
|Phosphorus||230 mg||271 mg|
|Calcium||18.1 mg||9.0 mg|
|Zinc||0.5 mg||0.3 mg|
|Selenium||37.5 mcg||33.9 mcg|
Although blue cod and cod both contain many nutrients, vitamins and minerals, you may have noticed one contains more than the other. This may answer the question many people ask about the two. Is blue cod healthier than cod?
Blue cod is healthier than cod due to its 230% more heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Blue cod also contains more vitamins and minerals like B12, thiamin, niacin, folate, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.
Although, as most of us probably already know, cod is no slouch either. It contains more protein and less calories. Cod provides more riboflavin, calcium, zinc and selenium than blue cod 6.
Blue Cod and Cod Health Benefits
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Examining the nutritional information of blue cod and cod above, you will notice blue cod has more fat than cod. However, the fat is healthy. Most of the fat in both blue cod and cod are omega-3 fatty acids, which our bodies can not produce on their own.
Why are omega-3 fatty acids so important to health? Omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy, help keep bad cholesterol levels lower, good cholesterol higher and arteries healthy. The DHA and EPA fatty acids are associated with lowering blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels 7.
Blue cod contains over three times the amount of omega-3s than cod. This difference is what really separates the two and gives blue cod the edge over cod.
I recently wrote an article comparing black cod to cod. If you’re interested in how many omega-3s black cod contains or just want to learn about it, check out my article, Black Cod Vs Cod – Is There A Difference?
Blue cod and cod contain many B vitamins. These include B6, B12, B5, B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin) and B9 (folate). These B vitamins helps support the following:
- Red blood cells
- Brain function
- Energy levels
- Nerve function
- Cardiovascular health
Blue cod and cod provide a good number of magnesium. Adding magnesium to your diet could be instrumental in improving sleep quality. More so, it helps keep blood pressure levels balanced and stable 8.
Magnesium relaxes and calms the whole body including the blood vessels. A recent study researched 22 studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure 9.
Cod contains twice the amount of calcium than blue cod. Calcium, like magnesium is important for blood pressure and the heart. Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure because it helps to control the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 10.
While cod may not be as healthy as blue cod, what about cod vs tilapia? Check out the battle of these heavyweights in my article here, Cod Vs Tilapia – A Complete Comparison.
Blue cod and cod contain almost 500 mg of potassium beneficial for reducing sodium intake. It helps the body reduce fluids and rids excess sodium 11. This process helps to reduce blood pressure.
Blue Cod and Cod Tastes and Textures
Blue cod has a mild flavor and not oily. Its white flesh has a delicate and flaky texture. The flesh has a medium firmness. If the blue cod was caught in the colder months, it might taste more buttery due to a slightly higher fat content.
Cod has a mild, milky flavor. Atlantic cod may be slightly sweeter than Pacific cod. Many people say the texture of cod is similar to chicken due to its firmness. Cod has large flakes and is good for various cooking methods.
Can You Substitute Cod for Blue Cod?
Sometimes you won’t have the exact fish for a recipe, or the seafood section of the supermarket doesn’t have what you need. Especially blue cod which is not typically sold in the local markets. Therefore, can you substitute cod for blue cod?
Blue cod and cod can substitute for each other due to their similar tastes and textures. Blue cod can be cooked using the same methods as cod like roasting, poached, broiled, frying or grilled.
What is a good substitute for cod? Good substitutes for cod include pollock, haddock, halibut, striped bass, tilapia and mahi mahi.
What is a good substitute for blue cod? Good substitutions for black cod include monkfish, gurnard, haddock, pollock, tilapia and striped bass.
When substituting one fish for the other always stick to the following:
- Same size and weight.
- Stick with similar fillets, whole fillet or cross section.
- Stick with skinless or skin when the recipe calls for one.
- Texture is more important for certain cooking methods. Like using a firmer texture when grilling 12.
A popular delicacy in New Zealand is smoking the blue cod. Many Asian people will steam the fish whole. Japanese people will use blue cod in their sushi 13.
When buying blue cod always make sure the flesh is glossy and semi-transparent and not sticky or mushy.
Blue Cod and Cod Mercury Levels
The FDA and the EPA have warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and how often to consume them 14. This is especially important for pregnant women, breastfeeding or for young toddlers and infants.
They established a list of best choices, good choices and ones to avoid based on their mercury levels. Therefore does blue cod or cod have more mercury?
Blue cod and cod contain similar mercury levels. They are listed on the FDA’s best choices in regards to mercury levels. The FDA recommends eating blue cod and cod no more than two servings a week.
Always check with a physician prior to eating new foods, changing your dietary habits and how often to consume certain fish.
The Cost of Blue Cod and Cod
The cost of either blue cod or cod will differ depending on the location, fresh or frozen and whether it’s farm raised or wild caught. Locally, I was able to find prices on cod but not for blue cod. I was only able to locate blue cod selling in New Zealand online websites.
I checked Freshdirect for the current prices of cod.
- Fresh, farm raised cod
- $9.99 per pound
- Fresh, wild caught cod
- $12.99 per pound
The availability of blue cod will be extremely difficult to find in your local supermarket or online. You’d have a better chance finding it in an online fish market from New Zealand.
Read Next – More Cod vs Fish Articles!
- Wikipedia: Blue cod
- NOAA Fisheries: Atlantic Cod
- Wikipedia: Cod
- Nutrition Value: Cod, raw
- New Zealand Food Composition Data: Blue cod, fillet, flash, fresh, raw
- NOAA Fisheries: Pacific Cod
- National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease
- National Institutes of Health: Magnesium
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis
- Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure
- American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
- Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions
- Lee Fish USA: Blue Cod
- FDA: Advice about Eating Fish