Cod and Mahi Mahi are two popular fish people love to cook with. They both have different tastes, nutritional values and textures. When deciding for your next meal, you may wonder, what is the difference between cod and Mahi Mahi?
Cod tastes milder and less fishy than Mahi Mahi. Cod provides a higher percentage of omega-3 fatty acids, more protein and less cholesterol. They are different species of fish. Mahi Mahi has more color, is longer and weighs more. Mahi Mahi costs more and contains more mercury.
This article will include a side-by-side comparison of each vitamin, mineral and nutrient contained in both fish. In addition, I’ll examine their benefits, tastes, textures, mercury levels, costs and if one can substitute for the other.
As a Certified Health Coach, many of my clients ask me about fish. In addition to coaching clients about cod and Mahi Mahi, I’ve purchased, researched and consumed both fish for over 20 years.
Cod and Mahi Mahi Nutrition Comparison
Below is a complete nutrient comparison per four ounces:
|Nutrient||Cod, raw (4 Ounces)||Mahi Mahi, raw (4 Ounces)|
|Fat||0.8 g||0.8 g|
|Saturated Fat||0.1 g||0.2 g|
|Cholesterol||49 mg||83 mg|
|Protein||23 g||21 g|
|Omega-3||0.22 g||0.13 g|
|B-6||0.2 mg||0.4 mg|
|B-12||1.0 mcg||0.6 mcg|
|Thiamin||0.08 mg||0.02 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.07 mg||0.07 mg|
|B5||0.1 mg||0.8 mg|
|Iron||0.4 mg||1.2 mg|
|Niacin||2.3 mg||6.9 mg|
|Folate||7.9 mcg||5.6 mcg|
|Potassium||468 mg||471 mg|
|Magnesium||36 mg||34 mg|
|Phosphorus||230 mg||162 mg|
|Calcium||18.1 mg||17.0 mg|
|Zinc||0.5 mg||0.5 mg|
|Selenium||37.5 mcg||41.3 mcg|
Both fish contain a wide variety of similar nutrients. One fish contains more of some nutrients while the other contains more of others. Therefore, is cod healthier than Mahi Mahi?
Cod is healthier than Mahi Mahi due to its 75% more heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, more protein, less cholesterol, less saturated fat and calories. Cod contains more B12, thiamin, folate, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. Mahi Mahi contains more unhealthy mercury than cod.
Mahi Mahi is also nutritious and offers many of each vitamin and mineral. Mahi Mahi provides a higher percentage of B6, B5, iron, niacin, potassium and selenium.
It’s difficult to argue against either fish but the main difference between the two is the number of omega-3s. Keep reading because the next section explains why omega-3s are so important.
Mahi Mahi and Cod Health Benefits
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Cod provides 0.22 grams per four ounces raw, approximately 75% more. This 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. One way they accomplish this is by keeping bad cholesterol low and good cholesterol high.
DHA and EPA, two of the fatty acids, are associated with lowering blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels 3.
In addition, they help keep the blood vessels healthy by reducing inflammation, plaque build-up, triglycerides and can help keep the heart rhythms more normal.
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 salmon compared in omega-3s check out my article, Salmon: Is One Better?
Both fish provide almost the same amount of magnesium 4. 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 5. More so, it helps keep blood pressure levels balanced and stable. A recent study researched 22 studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure 6.
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.
Of the seven B vitamins listed in the table above, both fish contained a higher percentage of three of them. They both contain the same number of riboflavin.
The vitamin B in the table includes 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
- Energy levels
Both fish provide a good amount of calcium. 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 7.
Both fish are a good source of potassium. Potassium is beneficial for reducing sodium intake. It helps the body reduce fluids and rids excess sodium 8. This process helps to reduce blood pressure.
Both fish are a good source of selenium. Studies 9 show selenium may help to protect the following:
- Heart disease
- The immune system
- Cognitive issues
Which to Choose?
Cod is a better option for weight loss because it has fewer calories. The calories Mahi have are not much more but their is a small difference.
Protein and Bodybuilding
Cod and Mahi Mahi have a similar amount of protein. The difference between the two fish doesn’t make much of a difference when it comes to adding protein for bodybuilding.
In the market I choose cod fish more often due to its availability, taste and omega-3s.
Cod vs Mahi Mahi: Taste and Texture
One of the most important things people takes into consideration when choosing a fish is its taste. Let’s examine the tastes of both fish.
Mahi Mahi and cod have a mild to sweet taste, but Mahi Mahi is less mild. Cod tastes more buttery while the darker flesh of Mahi Mahi can taste fishier.
Mahi Mahi taste can range from mild to sweet depending which part of the flesh you’re eating. The darker area has a more pronounced flavor similar to swordfish but not as much. Its firm, moist texture has large flakes.
Cod has a non-fishy mild taste. The mild taste can be sweet at times and is good for people who don’t like a fishy tasting seafood. It’s texture is firm, flaky and moist if cooked properly. Pacific are moister than Atlantic.
I conducted original research on taste by polling my health coaching clients, readers and members of food groups I belong to. I asked them, cod vs Mahi Mahi, which one tastes better?
- 49% said they preferred the cod.
- 41% said they preferred Mahi Mahi.
- 10% said they had no preference.
I conducted more taste and flavor research by setting up a blind taste test at my home. Both fish were cooked and prepared the same.
Three out of four people chose the mild flavor of the white cod. They said it is light in color but have slightly more flavor.
Winner cod in both the poll and my taste test.
When preparing recipes for dinner it’s not always possible to locate the type of fish called for. If you have only one of the fish you may be wondering if you can substitute one for the other.
Cod can substitute for Mahi Mahi in recipes due to their similar mild to sweet tastes although Mahi Mahi’s flavor is stronger. They both have a firm texture allowing similar cooking methods like grilling. Both fish can be grilled, baked, roasted, poached, fried or seared.
Other cod substitutes for a recipe include the following:
- Striped bass
- Mahi mahi
The best Mahi Mahi substitutes for recipes are:
- Striped bass
- Rainbow trout
- White Sea bass
When substituting either fish 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 fish cooking methods. Like using a firmer texture when grilling 10.
How Much Does Mahi Mahi and Cod Cost
The costs for fish will vary depending on how the fish are caught. A fish caught in the ocean will definitely be more expensive than farm-raised.
When purchasing fish, be sure to check the label to see if it is wild-caught or farm raised. Let’s examine the price of each one.
Mahi Mahi is more expensive than cod. The average cost for wild caught Mahi Mahi is $18.99 per pound while the average cost for wild caught cod is $16.99 per pound. The cost will vary depending on location, whether it is farm-raised or wild-caught, fresh or frozen.
I conducted original research on costs by visiting various stores and checking their prices.
I checked the local Freshdirect online supermarket for the current prices.
- Fresh, frozen, wild Atlantic
- $12.49 per pound
- Fresh, wild caught Atlantic
- $16.99 per pound
- Wild Mahi-Mahi fillet
- $18.99 per pound
Cod and Mahi Mahi Mercury Levels
The EPA and FDA have issued warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and how often they should be consumed 11. This is especially important for young infants, developing children and pregnant women.
They established a list of best fish, good choices and ones to avoid based on their mercury levels. Therefore, let’s examine the mercury in each fish.
Mahi Mahi contains more mercury than cod. Cod is listed on the FDA’s best choices of fish to consume regarding their mercury levels. Mahi Mahi is listed as a good choice.
Always check with a physician prior to eating new fish, foods or changing your dietary habits.
If you’re interested in finding about how sea bass compared, check out my article, Sea Bass – Is One Better? Let’s Compare.
Cod vs Mahi Mahi: Habitats, Size, Weight, Appearance
Let’s take a detailed look at the differences between the two fish.
Mahi Mahi and cod are from different families and species. The average Mahi Mahi is longer and weighs more than cod. Mahi Mahi has more color with greenish and gold coloring while cod is brownish. Mahi Mahi can be found in seas and oceans worldwide while cod is found in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean.
Scientific Classifications, Families, Species
Mahi Mahi is from the Coryphaenidae family, Coryphaena genus and the species C. hippurus. It is also known as dolphinfish or dorado.
Cod are from the Gadidae family, Gadus genus and the species include:
- Morhua (Atlantic)
- Macrocephalus (Pacific)
- Ogac (Greenland)
Mahi Mahi can be found worldwide. Some of the common places include the following:
- The west coast of North and South America
- The Atlantic coast of Florida and Africa
- The Gulf of Mexico
- The Pacific coast of Costa Rica
- Indian Ocean
- South China Sea
- Southeast Asia
Approximately one-third of the U.S. Mahi Mahi comes from the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. The remaining comes from the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.
Atlantic cod is found in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean from Greenland to North Carolina and in the western Gulf of Maine. Pacific 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.
- Mahi Mahi is an electric greenish blue towards the top. The lower body is goldfish and the tail appears yellowish.
- Cod is brownish with dark spots with a cream lateral line running down the body.
- The Mahi Mahi adult males have a square head while the females have a rounded head. The have about 55-66 dorsal fin rays extending from the head almost to the tail. Their bodies are more compressed.
- Cod is the typical long, narrow body shape and has three dorsal fins.
Size and Weight
- Mahi Mahi grow an average 39″ in length and weighs 15-29 pounds.
- Cod grows an average 27-34″ in length and weighs 5-15 pounds.
For the bigger fish: winner Mahi
- Mahi Mahi lives up to 5 years but seldom exceed 4 years.
- Cod lives up to 12 years.
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Read Next – More Fish vs Fish Articles!
- Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, Atlantic, cod
- Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, mahimahi
- National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease
- Nutrition Value: Cod, raw
- 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
- National Institutes of Health: Selenium
- Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions
- FDA: Advice about Eating Fish