Cod Vs Tilapia – A Complete Comparison

Cod and tilapia are both nutritious white fish. Let’s compare their differences and which one is better.

Cod is better than tilapia due to its higher number of vitamins and minerals. Cod contains less calories and fat than tilapia while providing more omega-3 fatty acids. Cod has a firmer texture and larger flakes making it beneficial for various cooking methods.

This article will examine all the differences between the two fish including a side-by-side comparison of their nutrients. In addition, I’ll compare their tastes, textures, substitutes, mercury levels and costs.

Cod and Tilapia Nutrient Comparison

Tilapia dinner on the left and cod on the right.
Tilapia dinner on the left and cod on the right

As a Certified Health Coach many clients ask me about food comparisons including cod and tilapia. I purchase and consume cod almost every week. Therefore, I have researched this topic in the past and present. Let’s examine them closely.

Below is a nutrient comparison of cod and tilapia.

Nutrient Cod, raw

(4 Ounces)

Tilapia, raw

(4 Ounces)

Calories 93 109
Fat 0.8 g  1.9 g
Protein 23 g  23 g
Omega-3 0.22 g  0.20 g
B-6 0.2 mg  0.1 mg
B-12 1.0 mcg  1.7 mcg
Thiamin 0.08 mg 0.04 mg
Riboflavin 0.07 mg 0.07 mg
B5 0.1 mg 0.5 mg
Iron 0.4 mg 0.6 mg
Niacin 2.3 mg  4.4 mg
Folate 7.94 mcg  27.22 mcg
Potassium 468 mg  342 mg
Magnesium 36 mg  30 mg
Phosphorus 230 mg  192 mg
Calcium 18.1 mg  11.3 mg
Zinc 0.5 mg 0.3 mg
Selenium 37.5 mcg  47.4 mcg

Nutrient source: Nutrition Value1 ((Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, Atlantic, cod))

The table above compares the major nutrients, minerals and vitamins side-by-side. After examining the numbers above, I have arrived at the following conclusion.

Cod is healthier than tilapia due to its greater number of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, less fat and calories. Cod provides a higher percentage of vitamins and minerals than tilapia including B6, thiamin, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and zinc. 

Although tilapia is no slouch and contains a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids ((USDA: Fish, tilapia, cooked, dry heat)). Tilapia contains more B12, B5, iron, niacin, folate and selenium than cod. Both fish have the same number of protein and riboflavin.

While tilapia may not be as healthy, what about cod vs salmon? Check out the battle of these heavyweights in my article here, Cod vs Salmon: Is One Better?

Health Benefits of Cod and Tilapia

Seafood like cod and tilapia are heart healthy ((National Center for Biotechnology Information: Benefits of salmon eating on traditional and novel vascular risk factors in young, non-obese healthy subjects)). Due to their omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and minerals like potassium and magnesium, they benefit cholesterol, blood pressure and help lower the risk of heart disease ((National Center for Biotechnology Information: Trace minerals in tilapia fillets: Status in the United States marketplace and selenium supplementation strategy for improving consumer’s health)).

Cod dinner with potatoes.
Cod dinner with potatoes

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Why are omega-3 fatty acids so beneficial? Omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy and help keep bad cholesterol low, increase good cholesterol and keep arteries healthy.

Two of the fatty acids, DHA and EPA are associated with lowering blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels ((National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease)).


Potassium is beneficial for combating high sodium intake because it helps the body reduce fluids and rids excess sodium ((American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure)). This process helps to reduce blood pressure.


Magnesium is also beneficial for the heart and helps to lower blood pressure. It achieves this by helping the blood vessels to relax and controls other nutrients like potassium and calcium2.


Calcium, like potassium 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.

In addition it’s helpful with the release of enzymes and hormones needed for most body functions. A recent study of adult women showed calcium supplementation can lower diastolic blood pressure significantly3.

Tilapia with roasted potatoes and vegetables.
Tilapia with roasted potatoes and vegetables

Cod vs Tilapia: Tastes, Textures and Color

Tilapia doesn’t have a strong fishy taste compared to other fish. It’s mild tasting and maybe even a little sweet. For this reason tilapia is a popular choice and it’s a perfect canvass for a variety of flavors and spices.

When raw, tilapia is a pinkish-white color but turns mostly white when cooked. It’s very tender and falls apart easily. However, the results may change depending on how the fish was cooked.

Atlantic cod may be a little sweeter and softer than Pacific cod but both have a mild, milky flavor. The flesh has a firm texture with large flakes. Many people say the texture comes closest to chicken compared to other fish.

Cod’s firm texture makes it a pleasure for various different cooking methods.

My Poll and Home Taste Test

To conduct original research I wanted to get the opinion of real people like you. Therefore, I conducted my own research and contacted my clients, readers and members of food groups I belong to. I asked them which of the two fish they preferred.

  • 37% said they preferred the taste of cod.
  • 44% said they preferred the taste of tilapia.
  • 19% said they had no preference, or it depended on their mood.

I then set up a blind test taste at my home. I prepared both fish the same way using the same seasonings. Two out of three people, 66% chose the tilapia. They said the flavor was better.

Cod vs Tilapia: 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 wonder about substituting.

Cod and tilapia can substitute for each other when cooking seafood due to both having a mild taste, although they have slightly different textures. They both can be cooked using the same methods like baking, grilling, broiling and pan frying.

When substituting one type of fish for another ((Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions)), 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 and Tilapia Mercury Levels

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the EPA have issued warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and consuming them4.

They established a list of best and good choices of fish based on their mercury levels. They also have a third section which are choices to avoid because they have the highest mercury levels.

Cod and tilapia 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 Tilapia

Kevin Garce checking the prices of salmon, mackerel and other seafood at his local market.
Checking the prices of salmon mackerel cod and other seafood at my local market

The cost of either cod or tilapia will differ depending on your location, supermarket, fresh or frozen and whether it’s farm raised or wild caught.

Cod is more expensive than tilapia. The average cost for farm raised cod is $9.99 per pound while the average cost for farm raised tilapia is $6.99 per pound. The cost will vary depending on location, whether it is farm-raised or wild-caught, fresh or frozen.

I stopped by and 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 tilapia fillet
    • $6.99 per pound
  • Fresh, farm raised kosher tilapia fillet
    • $6.99 per pound

Cod vs Tilapia: The Difference

Cod is a saltwater fish while tilapia are mainly freshwater fish. The average tilapia grows to 14 inches and weighs 5-6 pounds while the larger cod grows to 27-34 inches and 6-12 pounds.

Tilapia inhabit streams, ponds, rivers and lakes while cod is found in the colder waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

If you have any questions to ask me about this article don’t hesitate to comment below or email us. You can find an email on our contact page.

Read Next – More Cod vs Fish Articles!

Scrod vs Cod: There’s More To The Story

Halibut vs Salmon: Which Is Better?

Shrimp vs. Salmon: A Complete Comparison

  1. Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, tilapia []
  2. National Institutes of Health: Magnesium []
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The effect of supplementary calcium on blood pressure in healthy adult women aged 18-30 years in Tehran, Iran []
  4. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish []

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