Cod vs Chicken – Which is Healthier? Let’s Compare


Cod and chicken are two popular types of meat, but many people don’t know which one is healthier to eat. Therefore, which is healthier, cod or chicken?

Cod is healthier than chicken due to its higher percentage of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids and minerals. Cod contains less calories and fats per serving than chicken. Cod provides more B12, potassium, magnesium, calcium and selenium than chicken.

The article will break down each nutrient and compare them side-by-side. The comparison includes the different parts of the chicken like the wings, thighs, drumsticks and breasts. I’ll examine why cod is healthier and the mercury levels in cod and chicken.

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Nutrient Comparison of Cod and Chicken

The following table compares the nutrients between raw cod and raw chicken breast, both skinless.

Nutrient Cod, raw Skinless (4 Ounces) Chicken Breast, raw Skinless (4 Ounces)
Calories 93 136
Fat 0.8 g  3 g
Protein 23 g  26 g
Omega-3 0.22 g  0.02 g
B-6 0.2 mg  0.9 mg
B-12 1.0 mcg  0.2 mcg
Thiamin 0.08 mg 0.10 mg
Riboflavin 0.07 mg 0.20 mg
B5 0.1 mg 1.6 mg
Iron 0.4 mg 0.4 mg
Niacin 2.3 mg  10.8 mg
Folate 7.9 mcg  10.21 mcg
Potassium 468 mg  378 mg
Magnesium 36 mg  31 mg
Phosphorus 230 mg  241 mg
Calcium 18.1 mg  5.6 mg
Zinc 0.5 mg 0.7 mg
Selenium 37.5 mcg  25.9 mcg

Nutrition Sources 1 2 3

When examining the table above, remember the chicken listed is white meat and not the dark part of the chicken or with the skin. A skinless chicken breast is considered the healthiest part of the chicken. When comparing cod and chicken breast, which is better?

Cod is better than chicken breast due to its higher percentage of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, less fat and more minerals. Cod provides more B12, potassium, magnesium, calcium and selenium. 

Even though, skinless chicken breast is healthy too. It contains a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and protein. Skinless chicken breast provides more protein, B6, thiamin, riboflavin, B5, niacin, folate, phosphorus and zinc than cod. 

It’s the omega-3 fatty acids which separate the two and make cod a little more healthier. The benefit section down further explains why omega-3s are important.

Chicken Parts and Their Nutritional Values

Chicken is one of the most popular types of meat, and it is healthy to eat when skinless and cooked without unhealthy additions. The skinless chicken breast is the healthiest part of the whole chicken 4.

However, there are four different cuts of the chicken, and their nutrition information is all different. Many people ask, is cod leaner than chicken?

Cod is leaner than chicken due to its less total fat and fewer calories. Cod contains less total fat than any part of the chicken. Cod contains 0.8 grams of fat per four ounces, chicken breast 3 grams, thighs 4.7 grams, drumsticks 4.2 grams and wings 4 grams. 

Before adding seasonings like butter or other ingredients to your chicken dish, inspect the nutrition facts of an unseasoned, skinless and cooked cut of chicken. Adding butter, certain seasonings and other foods will add calories, carbs or other things you may be trying to avoid.

The table below compares the nutrients of the remaining parts of the chicken to cod.

Nutrient Chicken thigh
Skinless, raw
4 ounces
Chicken drumstick
Skinless, raw
4 ounces
Chicken wings,
Skinless, raw
4 ounces
Cod
Skinless, raw
4 ounces
Calories 137 131 143 93
Fat 4.7 g 4.2 g 4 g 0.8 g
Protein 22 g 22 g 25 g 23 g
Omega-3 0.05 g 0.05 g 0.10 g 0.22 g
B-6 0.5 mg 0.4 mg 0.6 mg 0.2 mg
B-12 0.6 mcg 0.5 mcg 0.4 mg 1.0 mcg
Thiamin 0.09 mg 0.10 mg 0.06 mg 0.08 mg
Riboflavin 0.22 mg 0.24 mg 0.11 mg 0.07 mg
B5 1.2 mg 1.2 mg 0.94 mg 0.1 mg
Iron 0.9 mg 0.8 mg 1.0 mg 0.4 mg
Niacin 6.2 mg 5.8 mg 8.3 mg 2.3 mg
Folate 4.5 mcg 4.5 mcg 4.5 mcg 7.9 mcg
Potassium 273 mg 254 mg 220 mg 468 mg
Magnesium 25 mg 22 mg 24 mg 36 mg
Phosphorus 209 mg 196 mg 175 mg 230 mg
Calcium 7.9 mg 10.1 mg 14.7 mg 18.1 mg
Zinc 1.7 mg 2.3 mg 1.8 mg 0.5 mg
Selenium 25.9 mg 24.6 mg 20.2 mcg 37.5 mcg

Nutrient Sources 5 6 7

Examining the nutrients of the other parts of the chicken, you’ll see they are not as nutritious as the chicken breast. Even more so, cod is healthier than the chicken thigh, drumstick and wing.

Comparing cod to the whole chicken, even skinless, strengthens the argument cod is healthier and better than the whole chicken.

Just like the chicken breast, the other parts do contain a wide variety of beneficial vitamins and minerals. Adding the skin would increase the amount of fat, particularly the unhealthy saturated fats.

Another article you should check out is Cod Alternatives: The 12 Best Substitutes. Try other fish like cod for variety or when cod is unavailable. 

Cod and Chicken Health Benefits

Cod and chicken contain many of the same nutrients and therefore similar health benefits. Even though, I broke down the benefits by which meat offers the higher percentage of each nutrient. 

Cod Health Benefits

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Cod provides 0.22 grams of omega-3 and the wings, 0.10 grams per four ounces raw, the most of any chicken part. Cod contains over 100% more which leads to the question, why does omega-3 fatty acids matter so much?

It’s because omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy and help keep arteries healthy. They accomplish this is by the following:

  • Keeping bad cholesterol low.
  • Keeping good cholesterol high.
  • Reducing inflammation.
  • Reducing plaque build-up.
  • Lowering triglycerides
  • Help keep the heart rhythms more normal.

DHA and EPA, two of the fatty acids, are associated with lowering blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels 8.

Studies suggest omega-3s can help reduce joint pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis. They may also boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.

If you’re wondering how cod compared to salmon in omega-3s check out my article, Cod vs Salmon: Is One Better?

Magnesium

Cod provides more magnesium than any chicken part. The most chicken part is breast with 31 mg while cod contains 36 mg 9. Adding magnesium to your diet could be instrumental in improving sleep related issues like insomnia.

Magnesium relaxes and calms the whole body including the blood vessels 10. More so, it helps keep blood pressure levels balanced and stable. A recent study researched 22 studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased diastolic and systolic blood pressure 11.

Magnesium helps control muscle and nerve function, blood sugar and blood pressure. In the muscles and heart, magnesium competes with calcium to help the muscles relax after contracting.

When the body is low in magnesium, calcium can over stimulate the heart muscle’s cells causing a rapid or irregular heartbeat.

Calcium

Both meats provide a good amount of calcium, but cod contains more than any chicken part. Like magnesium, calcium 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 12. Calcium also helps the following:

  • Build and maintains strong bones.
  • Muscles need calcium to function properly.
  • Improve nerve function.

Selenium

Cod contains approximately 50% more selenium than any of the chicken parts. Not many people mention selenium when discussing nutrients. I’m unsure why because studies 13 indicate selenium may help to protect the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Thyroid
  • The immune system
  • Cognitive issues

Chicken Health Benefits

B Vitamins

Of the seven B vitamins listed in the table above, chicken breast contained a higher percentage of six of them. The other parts of the chicken also contain more. Although cod contains the same vitamins but in lower amounts.

The B vitamins in the table include B6, B12, B5, B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin) and B9 (folate). B vitamins help support the following:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Red blood cells
  • Brain function
  • Nerve function
  • Digestion
  • Energy levels

Cod and Chicken Mercury Levels

When discussing heath and the consumption of food, it’s difficult to ignore the mercury levels found in some fish. The Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings about consuming fish regarding their mercury levels 14.

This is especially important for young, developing children and infants. In addition, pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding must be aware of their fish consumption. Therefore does cod have high mercury levels?

Cod is not considered to have high levels of mercury compared to other seafood. The FDA lists cod in the best choices for seafood regarding mercury levels. They recommend consuming cod safely up to 2-3 times per week.

Chicken is unknown to contain mercury 15. Although a past report in 2006 found that some insects contain mercury and the animals that eat them, like chickens. The FDA hasn’t issued any known warnings about mercury in chicken.

If you’re interested in finding about how sea bass compared to cod, check out my article, Sea Bass vs Cod – Is One Better? Let’s Compare.

FAQ

Is chicken or cod better for weight loss?

Cod is better than chicken for weight loss due to its less calories per serving. Raw cod contains 93 calories per four ounces. Skinless chicken breasts contain 136 calories, thighs 137 calories, drumsticks 131 calories and wings 143 calories. Cod also contains less total fat than chicken.

Which has more protein, chicken or cod? Chicken breast and wings contain more protein per serving than cod. Cod contains more protein per serving than chicken thighs or drumsticks.

Additional Article Resources 16 17 18 19

Read Next – More Cod vs Fish Articles!

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Cod vs Mahi mahi – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare

Pacific Cod vs Atlantic Cod – What’s The Difference?

Blue Cod Vs Cod – A Complete Comparison

Black Cod Vs Cod – Is There A Difference?

Cod Vs Tilapia – A Complete Comparison

 

Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, Atlantic, cod[]
  2. Nutrition Value: Chicken, raw, meat only, boneless, skinless, breast, broiler or fryers[]
  3. USDA: Chicken Breast[]
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Role of poultry meat in a balanced diet aimed at maintaining health and wellbeing: an Italian consensus document[]
  5. Nutrition Value: Chicken, raw, meat only, wing, broilers or fryers[]
  6. Nutrition Value: Chicken, raw, meat only, drumstick, dark meat, broilers or fryers[]
  7. Nutrition Value: Chicken, raw, meat only, thigh, dark meat, broilers or fryers[]
  8. National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease[]
  9. Nutrition Value: Cod, raw[]
  10. National Institutes of Health: Magnesium[]
  11. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[]
  12. Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure[]
  13. National Institutes of Health: Selenium[]
  14. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish[]
  15. NRDC: Mercury Guide[]
  16. Wikipedia: Cod[]
  17. NOAA Fisheries: Atlantic Cod[]
  18. Mass.gov: Learn about Atlantic cod[]
  19. The University of Maine: Maine Seafood Guide – Cod[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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