Cod vs Salmon: Is One Better?


Finding the best meal to make for your family, friends or just for you can be difficult. Cod and salmon are excellent options offering many health benefits. The real question is, is one better than the other?

Salmon is better than cod because it contains more healthy omega-3 fatty acids and minerals than cod. Salmon contains a larger percentage of vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B5, B6, B12 and folate. Although cod contains less calories and fat, most of salmon’s fats are heart healthy and beneficial.

Cod is no slouch and contains a good number of nutrients too. This article will list each nutrient and how much each fish contains. In addition, I’ll examine how they compare in taste and texture, if you can substitute one for the other, their mercury levels and more.

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Cod vs Salmon: Nutrition Facts

First, let us take a look at the nutrition facts for cod and salmon.

Nutritional Value Cod, raw Salmon, raw
Serving Size 4 Ounces 4 Ounces
Calories 93 161
Calories from Fat 7 65
Total Fat 0.8 g 7.2 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g 1.1 g
Trans Fat 0 g 0 g
Omega-3 0.22 g 1.96 g
Cholesterol 49 mg 62 mg
Sodium 61 mg 50 mg
Potassium 468 mg 555 mg
Total Carbohydrates 0 g 0 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g 0 g
Sugar 0 g 0 g
Protein 20 g 23 g
Vitamin A 2% 2%
Calcium 1% 1%
Thiamin 7% 21%
Vitamin B6 21% 71%
Niacin 15% 56%
Phosphorus 33% 32%
Copper 4% 32%
Vitamin C 1% 0%
Iron 2% 5%
Riboflavin 6% 33%
Vitamin B12 43% 150%
Magnesium 9% 8%
Vitamin B5 3% 38%
Zinc 5% 7%
Sources: Salmon 1 and Cod 2

cod vs salmon: which is better

Although cod and salmon both contain many nutrients, vitamins and minerals, you may have noticed one contains more then the other. This may answer the question many people ask about the two. Is cod healthier than salmon? 

Salmon is healthier than cod because it contains a higher percentage of minerals, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Although cod is healthy and contains less calories and fat, salmon provides more heart healthy fatty acids, potassium and B vitamins.

Fats

When you look at the nutritional information of salmon and cod above, you will notice that salmon has a lot more fat on it than cod. However, the fat is healthy.

Some of the fat on both salmon and cod are omega-3 fatty acids, which our bodies can not produce on their own. Not all the fats in salmon and cod are omega-3s, but many of the fat fatty acids in salmon and cod are.

Why are omega-3 fatty acids so beneficial? Omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy and help keep cholesterol levels lower and arteries healthy. Two of the fatty acids, DHA and EPA are associated with lowering blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels 3.

Salmon contains about nine times the amount of omega-3s than cod. This difference is what really separates the two and gives salmon the edge over cod.

Sodium

There is sodium in everything, and cod and salmon are no exceptions. Oftentimes people will add salt, soy sauce, garlic and other seasonings to cod and salmon. This adds more sodium to the meal, but cod and salmon do not contain much of it.

However, cod and salmon have slightly different levels of sodium. If you want to avoid sodium, choose salmon over cod since it contains a little less.

Potassium

Potassium is one of the best minerals for your body. It provides your body with a variety of nutrients keeping your body strong. It is also good at combating high sodium intake because it helps the body reduce fluids and rids excess sodium 4.

This process helps to reduce blood pressure. Luckily, salmon and cod both contain potassium. Salmon possesses more potassium than cod but not by much. 

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are essential and ensure that your body functions well. Just like sodium, you need specific amounts of each vitamin and mineral every day. Both cod and salmon contain many essential vitamins and minerals for the body.

Cod has slightly more magnesium and vitamin C than salmon. Salmon contains more thiamin, riboflavin and B vitamins. However, both salmon and cod provide the body with many essential nutrients.

Magnesium is also beneficial for the heart and improves blood pressure. It achieves this by helping the blood vessels to relax. In addition, magnesium helps control other nutrients like calcium and potassium which are beneficial for blood pressure 5.

Cod vs Salmon: What’s The Difference?

What are the differences between salmon and cod?

Salmon is a freshwater and saltwater fish while cod is a saltwater fish only. Cod fish grow larger and weigh more than salmon. Cod is found in the colder waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean while salmon inhabit the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and offshore rivers and streams.

 Salmon is renowned for being a part of many diets like keto or heart healthy. Salmon are freshwater fish but are typically are born in fresh water streams or rivers. 

When they are old enough, salmon migrate to the ocean. However, they come back to the river during spawning seasons. This cycle repeats every year at least once 6.

Salmon’s average lifespan is four to five years. The average salmon is 28-30 inches long and weighs three to five pounds. King salmon is the largest and can grow up to 58 inches 7.

Salmon is very popular and can be found on almost every restaurant menu. While eating out, cod is more difficult to find. 

Cod is a saltwater fish. There are three species including Atlantic, Pacific and Greenland. Cod inhabit the colder waters, more north, of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans 8.

The average cod is 51 inches long and weighs 55-75 pounds. Cod found closer to the shoreline can range from 27-34 inches long and weigh between six and twelve pounds 9.

Cod vs Salmon: Taste and Texture

Cod is a lean fish with a mild flavor. The Atlantic cod taste a tiny bit sweeter than a Pacific cod. Of all the marine fish, cod my come the closest to tasting like chicken. The flesh has a firm texture with large flakes.

Salmon has a tender, buttery texture. It has a rich, oily taste and more bold than cod. Wild-caught salmon has a leaner texture than farm-raised. Salmon is more oily than cod because of its high omega-3 fatty acids content.

The taste and texture of either fish may vary depending on the farming method, wild or farm raised and the cooking method used.

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Cod vs Salmon: How To Cook

Cod and salmon can be cooked the same ways. The following are different ways to cook cod or salmon:

  • Pan seared.
  • Pan griiled.
  • Pan fried.
  • Baked.
  • Poached.
  • Slow roasted.
  • Grilling.
  • Broiling

Best Flavors

Cod and salmon are pretty similar foods. Although they come from different fish, they both offer a delicious fishy flavor. Recipes for each fish use similar seasonings and flavors. Lemon juice, lemon slices and lemon vinaigrette all go well with cod and salmon. Most salmon and cod recipes call for lemon flavoring in some form.

Both salmon and cod also taste great with garlic seasoning. Both fish are also regularly seasoned with cayenne pepper, paprika, and a variety of fresh herbs.

When cooking cod specifically, primarily use lemon flavoring and top it with some fresh herbs. On the other hand, many people enjoy eating plain salmon. Add salt or pepper to the fish when cooking, grilling or baking it for a subtle flavor profile.

However, many people also cook their salmon or cod with honey. It sweetens that salty fish and is surprisingly good. For salmon, of course, you cannot forget soy sauce, which is a sushi staple.

Best Sides

Finding a side to eat with a cod or salmon dinner doesn’t have to be difficult. Choose a simple side dish with similar seasoning when serving either of these fish for dinner.

Another way to elevate your cod dish is to serve homemade tartar sauce. Just coat and fry up some cod, and dip it in the tartar sauce.

Another side to serve with cod is lemony potatoes. These flavors complement the mild tastes of the cod well.

Other simple side dishes to serve with cod or salmon include green beans, coleslaw and rice pilaf.

Salmon, on the other hand, tastes delicious when dipped or coated in garlic sauce. You can then add the same garlic sauce to most greens for a well-rounded meal. Vegetables that work well with a garlic sauce include broccolini, bok choy, brussels sprouts, asparagus, snap peas or green beans. Experiment with putting garlic sauce on some of your favorite vegetables.

You can also pair a variety of potato side dishes with salmon. If you want potatoes as the side for your salmon dish, season them with lemon and rosemary.

Cook salmon with garlic, lemon and rosemary to compliment the fish’s natural buttery flavors. If the side dish has garlic, it will go well with the main salmon dish.

In the end, it does not matter much what you put on your cod or salmon. As long as it suits your tastes and dietary needs, it is up to you. Cod and salmon are both healthy, lean meats.

Cod and Salmon Substitutions

There are times when you go to the supermarket the type of fish you need for a recipe isn’t going to be available. You may have a freezer full of cod and need to use them. Therefore, you may ask the question, can you substitute cod for salmon?

Cod and salmon can substitute for each other when cooking seafood, although they have different textures and tastes. They both can be cooked using the same methods like slow-roasted, poached or searing in a pan.

When substituting cod for salmon, certain sauces that go well with an oily fish like salmon won’t go as well with a salmon 10.

What can I substitute for salmon in a recipe? The following fish can substitute for salmon in a recipe:

  • Mackerel
  • Trout
  • Bluefish
  • Striped bass
  • Arctic char
  • Mahi mahi

What fish can replace cod? Fish that can replace cod:

  • Pollack
  • Haddock
  • Halibut
  • Mahi mahi
  • Striped bass
  • Black cod
  • Grouper

When substituting one type of fish for another, try following these tips:

  • Pick similar fillets, whole fillet or cross section.
  • Always choose the same weight and size.
  • If the recipe calls for skinless, choose skinless and visa versa.
  • When grilling a firm texture is more important.
  • Substitute a fatty or lean fish for the same.
cod vs salmon
Fresh raw cod fillet with spices, pepper, salt, basil on a stone plate, horizontal, copy space, top view

Cod and Salmon Mercury Levels

The FDA and EPA have issued warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and consuming them 11. This is especially important for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

They established a list of fish that are best and good choices based on their mercury levels. They also have a third section which are choices to avoid because they have the highest mercury levels. Therefore does cod or salmon have more mercury?

Cod and salmon have similar levels of mercury. Both fish are listed on the FDA’s best choices of fish to consume regarding their mercury levels. They recommend eating no more than two to three servings a week.

Always check with a physician prior to eating new foods or changing your dietary habits.

The Cost of Cod and Salmon

The cost of either cod or salmon will differ depending on your location, supermarket, fresh or frozen and whether it’s farm raised or wild caught. Which is more expensive, cod or salmon?

Salmon is slightly more expensive than cod. The average cost for salmon is $12.49 per pound while the average cost for cod is $11.49 per pound. The cost will vary depending on location, whether it is farm-raised or wild-caught, fresh or frozen.

I checked my local Shoprite Supermarket and other markets for the current prices of each.

  • Fresh, farm raised cod
    • $9.99 per pound.
  • Fresh, wild caught cod
    • $12.99 per pound
  • Fresh, farm raised Atlantic salmon
    • $9.99 per pound
  • Fresh, wild caught Coho salmon
    • $14.99 per pound

To save some money on fresh seafood, would you believe some can be purchased on Amazon? Check out their current prices and selection, Fresh Seafood.

Read Next – More Salmon vs Fish Articles!

Halibut vs Salmon: Which Is Better?

Trout vs Salmon: Is One More Healthier Than The Other?

Shrimp vs. Salmon: A Complete Comparison

Char vs. Salmon – A Complete Comparison

Frozen Salmon vs Canned Salmon: Which is Healthier?

 

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: Salmon, raw[]
  2. Nutrition Value: Cod, raw[]
  3. National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease[]
  4. American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure[]
  5. National Institutes of Health: Magnesium[]
  6. The University Of Maine: Maine Seafood Guide – Salmon[]
  7. USGS: How many species of salmon are there and how large can they get?[]
  8. Wikipedia: Cod[]
  9. Mass.gov: Learn about Atlantic cod[]
  10. Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions[]
  11. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish[]

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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