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 both fish 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
Both fish share almost the same name but there is more differences than similarities between the two fish. Let’s take a detailed look at the differences between the two fish.
Blue cod is not a cod and is from the Pinguipedidae family. 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.
Habitats Including Atlantic Cod and Cod Pacific
Blue cod is exclusively found in the shallow waters around the rocky coasts of New Zealand. 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 through Boston to North Carolina and in the western Gulf of Maine 1. 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.
- 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. They are typically bigger, especially when compared from the back view.
- Blue cod up to 32 years.
- Cod up to 12 years.
Blue Cod vs Cod Nutrition Values
The table below lists the nutrients for both fish per four ounces.
|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 both fish contain many nutrients, vitamins and minerals, you may have noticed one contains more than the other. Let’s determine which fish, blue cod vs cod, is healthier.
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 don’t have to ask, is cod healthy? It contains more protein and less calories. It also provides more riboflavin, calcium, zinc and selenium 4.
While shopping I’ll choose regular cod almost all the time due to its availability and protein.
Blue Cod vs Cod: Health Benefits
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Examining the nutritional information of both fish above, you will notice blue cod has more fat per serving. However, the fat is healthy. Most of the fat in both fish 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 5.
Cod blue contains over three times the amount of omega-3s. This difference is what really separates the two fish and gives it the edge.
I recently wrote an article comparing a cod black. If you’re interested in how many omega-3s black cod contains or just want to learn about it, the link to my article is at the end of this article.
Both fish 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
Both fish 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 6.
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 7.
Cod contains twice the amount of calcium. 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 8.
How about cod vs tilapia? Check out the battle of these heavyweights in my article here, Cod Vs Tilapia – A Complete Comparison.
Both fish contain almost 500 mg of potassium beneficial for reducing sodium intake. It helps the body reduce fluids and rids excess sodium 9. This process helps to reduce blood pressure.
Tastes and Textures
Blue cod has a mild flavor and not oily. It’s a white fish and the flesh has a delicate and flaky texture. The flesh has a medium firmness. If it 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 cod Pacific. Many people say the texture of the white fish is similar to chicken due to its firmness.
It has large flakes and is good for various cooking methods.
Can You Substitute?
Sometimes you can’t catch the exact fish wanted while fishing. Other times the seafood section of the supermarket doesn’t have what you need for a recipe.
Especially blue cod which is not typically sold in the local markets. Therefore, let’s examine if one fish can substitute for the other.
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.
Good substitutes for cod include pollock, haddock, halibut, striped bass, tilapia and mahi mahi.
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 fish fillet.
- Stick with similar fillets, whole fillet or cross section.
- Stick with skinless or skin when the recipe calls for one.
- The fish texture is more important for certain cooking methods. Like using a firmer texture when grilling 10.
A popular delicacy in New Zealand is smoking the blue cod. Many Asian people will steam the fish whole. Japanese people will use it in their sushi 11.
When buying blue cod always make sure the white fish flesh is glossy and semi-transparent and not sticky or mushy.
The FDA and the EPA have warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and how often to consume them 12. This is especially important for pregnant women, breastfeeding or for young toddlers and infants.
They established a list of best choices, good choices and fish to avoid based on their mercury levels. Let’s take a look at the levels found in both fish.
Blue cod and cod contain similar mercury levels. They are listed on the FDA’s best choices of fish in regards to mercury levels.
Always check with a physician prior to eating new fish, foods, changing your dietary habits and how often to consume certain fish.
The cost of fish will differ depending on the location, fresh or frozen and whether it’s farm raised or wild caught fishing.
I conducted original research on costs by visiting stores checking their prices.
Locally, I was able to find prices on cod but not for blue cod. I was only able to locate them selling in New Zealand online websites.
I checked Freshdirect for the current prices and found the following.
- 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.
As a Certified Health Coach, many of my clients ask me about fish. In addition to coaching clients about blue cod and cod, I’ve purchased, researched and consumed both fish for over 20 years.
If you have any questions about this article or other posts, don’t hesitate to email notify us. You can find an email on our contact page. We’ll do our best to copy and reply as soon as possible.
Read Next – More Black Cod and Cod vs Fish Articles!
- NOAA Fisheries: Atlantic 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