Mahi Mahi vs Halibut: What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare


Mahi Mahi and halibut are often compared due to their similar textures. Although there are various differences leading many people to ask about the two fish. Therefore, let’s answer the question, What is the difference between Mahi Mahi and halibut?

Mahi Mahi and halibut are different species even though they are from the same family and genus. Halibut provide a higher percentage of nutrients than Mahi Mahi. Mahi Mahi has a stronger taste and is less flakey than halibut. Halibut costs approximately $10 more per pound than Mahi Mahi.

This article will compare their tastes, textures, cooking methods, costs, mercury levels and whether one can substitute for the other in recipes. In addition, I’ll do a side-by-side comparison of their nutrients, habitats, size, weight and more.

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Mahi Mahi and Halibut Nutritional Value

The following table is a side-by-side comparison of all the nutrients in halibut and Mahi Mahi:

Nutrient Halibut, raw (4 Ounces) Mahi Mahi, raw (4 Ounces)
Calories 103 96
Fat 1.5 g 0.8 g
Saturated Fat 0.3 g 0.2 g
Cholesterol 56 mg 83 mg
Protein 21 g 21 g
Omega-3 0.25 g 0.13 g
B-6 0.6 mg 0.4 mg
B-12 1.2 mcg 0.6 mcg
Thiamin 0.05 mg 0.02 mg
Riboflavin 0.03 mg 0.07 mg
B5 0.3 mg 0.8 mg
Niacin 7.3 mg 6.9 mg
Folate 13.6 mcg 5.6 mcg
Iron 0.1 mg 1.2 mg
Potassium 493 mg 471 mg
Magnesium 26 mg 34 mg
Phosphorus 267 mg 162 mg
Calcium 7.9 mg 17.0 mg
Zinc 0.4 mg 0.5 mg
Selenium 51.7 mcg 41.3 mcg

Nutrient sources 1 2

After examining the nutritional table above, it’s easy to see both fish contain many vitamins and minerals. Therefore, which is healthier, halibut or Mahi Mahi?

Halibut is healthier than Mahi Mahi due to its higher percentage of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins. Halibut provides more B6, B12, thiamin, niacin, folate, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium than Mahi Mahi. 

Mahi Mahi is no slouch and is healthy also. Mahi Mahi provides more riboflavin, B5, iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc.

Halibut contains about double the omega-3 fatty acids which separate the two. Keep reading the next section to find out why omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for health.

Mahi Mahi and Halibut Health Benefits

Both fish provide the same nutrients and therefore the same benefits. Although I broke down the benefits by which fish offers the higher percentage of each nutrient 3.

Since omega-3 fatty acids are similar, I’ll start with them and halibut first.

Halibut Health Benefits

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Halibut provides 0.25 grams of omega-3 and Mahi Mahi 0.13 grams per four ounces raw. Why does omega-3 fatty acids matter so much?

It’s because omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy and help keep arteries healthy. The omega-3s in halibut may help with 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 4.

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.

B Vitamins

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

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

Phosphorus

There are 267 mg of phosphorus per four ounces of raw halibut. It has been shown in scientific research to help with the following:

  • Muscle recovery after exercise.
  • Muscle contraction.
  • Help the body store and manage energy.
  • Help the kidneys remove waste.
  • Promote healthy nerve conduction.
  • Promote teeth and bone strength.

Selenium

There are 51.7 mcg of selenium per four ounces of halibut. Selenium is a nutrient which doesn’t receive much press. I’m unsure why many don’t write about it more because studies 5 show selenium may help to protect the following:

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

Potassium

There are 493 mg per four ounces of raw halibut. Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium which helps reduce fluid build-up. These help keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 6.

The more potassium you consume, the more sodium your body will lose. Consuming too much sodium or not enough potassium throws off the delicate balance the kidneys need to remove the excess water 7.

According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and increased blood pressure 8.

If you’re wondering how halibut compared to cod, check out my article Halibut vs Cod: The Differences In Detail.

Mahi Mahi Health Benefits

Calcium

Mahi Mahi provides a good amount of calcium, 17.0 mg per four ounces. 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 9.

Calcium also helps the following:

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

Magnesium

There are 34 mg of magnesium per four ounces provided by Mahi Mahi. Magnesium calms and relaxes the whole body including blood vessels. Magnesium has been shown to help improve sleep related problems like insomnia 10.

Magnesium 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 in Mahi Mahi 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.

Mahi Mahi and Halibut: Tastes and Textures

One of the most important things people takes into consideration when choosing a fish is its taste. When comparing the two fish, does Mahi Mahi taste like halibut?

Mahi Mahi tastes a little stronger and fishier than halibut. Although their tastes are both mild to sweet and are similar. They both have a firm texture although halibut is slightly flakier than Mahi Mahi. 

What does Mahi Mahi taste like?

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.

What does halibut taste like?

Halibut has a mild to sweet taste.Halibut is typically a thicker cut of fish and has a firm texture and a little flaky.

I compared everything between Mahi Mahi and tuna including their tastes. Check out my recent article, Tuna vs Mahi Mahi – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare.

Mahi Mahi and Halibut Substitutions

When preparing recipes for dinner it’s not always possible to locate the type of fish called for. If you have some halibut, you may ask, can I substitute halibut for Mahi Mahi?

Halibut can substitute for Mahi Mahi due to their similar textures and tastes, although Mahi mahi’s flavor is slightly stronger. They both have a firm enough texture allowing similar cooking methods when substituting. Halibut and Mahi Mahi can be grilled, baked, roasted, poached, fried or seared. 

Other halibut substitutes include the following:

  • Rainbow trout
  • Cod
  • Flounder
  • White Sea bass

The best Mahi Mahi substitutes are:

  • Salmon
  • Striped bass
  • Cod
  • Rainbow trout
  • White Sea bass
  • Tuna

When substituting Mahi Mahi or halibut 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 cooking methods. Like using a firmer texture when grilling 12.

Check out substitutions and a complete comparison between halibut and salmon in my article, Halibut vs Salmon: Which is Better?

How To Cook Mahi Mahi

Searing fresh Mahi mahi is a popular method. Sear on the bottom side to develop the crust then flip over for a few more minutes. Another method is to roast it at 400 degrees until the center is cooked through and the top is golden.

Flavor Pairing

  • Lemon
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Black pepper

How To Cook Halibut

Popular cooking methods for halibut include baking, steaming, broiling, grilling and sautéing. Halibut is low in oil, therefore be careful when cooking because it can dry out or stick to the pan quickly. Halibut partners up with squash, potatoes or grilled asparagus.

Flavor Pairing

  • Lemon juice
  • Basil
  • Pesto

How Much Does Mahi Mahi and Halibut Cost

The costs for fish will vary depending on how they’re are caught and where they are sold. When purchasing fish, be sure to check the label to see if it is wild-caught or farm raised. Therefore, which is more expensive, Mahi Mahi or halibut?

Halibut is more expensive than Mahi Mahi. The average cost for wild caught Mahi Mahi is $18.99 per pound while the average cost for wild caught halibut is $29.99 per pound. 

I checked the local Freshdirect online supermarket for the current prices of Mahi Mahi and halibut.

  • Wild Mahi Mahi fillet
    • $18.99 per pound
  • Fresh, wild halibut fillet
    • $29.99 per pound

I also checked shoprite supermarket:

  • Fresh wild halibut fillet
    • $36.99 per pound
  • Farm Mahi mahi
    • $9.99 per pound

Mahi Mahi and Halibut Mercury Levels

The EPA and The FDA have issued warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and how often they should be consumed 13. 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, does Mahi Mahi or halibut have more mercury?

Mahi Mahi and halibut have similar levels of mercury. They are both listed on the FDA’s good choices of fish to consume regarding their mercury levels. The recommendation is consuming one serving per week for fish listed as good choices.

Everyone, especially if you’re pregnant, breast feeding or have a young child, always check with a physician prior to eating new foods or changing your dietary habits.

These mercury warnings can change over time or affect only a particular area or state. For eight bass or any fish, check with your local EPA and FDA for the current recommendations 14.

Mahi Mahi vs Halibut: Habitats, Size, Weight, Appearance?

How can you tell the difference between a Mahi Mahi and a halibut?

The easiest way to tell the difference between a Mahi Mahi and a halibut is their body shape and colors. Halibut is a large flat fish and Mahi Mahi is compressed and elongated. Halibut have a dark top and lighter colored bottom. Mahi Mahi are electric greenish near the top and golden-yellow on the bottom and tail.

Scientific Classifications, Families, Species

Mahi Mahi are from:

  • Family: Coryphaenidae
  • Genus: Coryphaena
  • Species: C. hippurus
  • Common nicknames: Dolphinfish, dorado.

Halibut have two species of fish both from the same family and genus.

Pacific halibut:

  • Family: Pieuronectidae
  • Genus: Hippoglossus
  • Species: H. stenolepis

Atlantic halibut:

  • Family: Pieuronectidae
  • Genus: Hippoglossus
  • Species: H. hippoglossus
photo comparison of Mahi Mahi and halibut
Mahi Mahi and a halibut

Habitats

  • According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pacific halibut primarily live in the Central Gulf of Alaska near Kodiak Island. Deep-sea fishing for halibut is a popular sport in Alaska.
  • Atlantic Halibut are native to the temperate and arctic waters of the northern Atlantic Ocean. They can be found in Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, Bay of Biscay and Virginia.

Mahi Mahi can be found worldwide. Some of the common places include the following:

  • The west coast of North and South America
  • Hawaii
  • The Atlantic coast of Florida and Africa
  • The Gulf of Mexico
  • The Pacific coast of Costa Rica
  • Indian Ocean
  • South China Sea
  • Southeast Asia
  • Caribbean

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.

Colors

  • The upper part of halibut is dark and varies due to the color changing to blend in with the ocean floor. The change in color helps them avoid detection. The underside is lighter.
  • Mahi Mahi is an electric greenish blue towards the top. The lower body is goldfish and the tail appears yellowish.

Appearance

  • Halibut have diamond shaped more elongated bodies than other flat fish. They have large arches in the lateral line over the pectoral fin. Their tails are crescent shaped. Both of their eyes are on the darker, upper side of their 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.

Size and Weight

  • Then Atlantic Halibut female can grow up to 600 pounds. The males average 25-30 pounds and can weigh up to 100 pounds.
    • A 20″ halibut weighs about 3 pounds.
    • A 36″ halibut weighs about 20 pounds.
    • A 58″ halibut weighs about 100 pounds.
  • Mahi Mahi grow an average 39″ in length and weighs 15-29 pounds.

Age

  • A halibut can live up to 50 years.
  • Mahi Mahi lives up to 5 years but seldom exceed 4 years.

Diet

Mahi Mahi consume the following:

  • Juvenile tuna
  • Small pelagic fish
  • Billfish
  • Pompano
  • Invertebrates
  • Bottom living species

Halibut consume the following:

  • Other fish
  • Cod
  • Haddock
  • Herring
  • Sand eels
  • Pogge
  • Large crustaceans

Species Resources 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

(How to Make Halibut Video)

Read Next – More Fish vs Fish Articles!

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

White Perch vs White Bass: Which Is Better?

Sea Bass vs Salmon: Which Is Better?

Anchovies vs Sardines – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare

Alaska Pollock vs Atlantic Pollock: Which Is Better?

Brook Trout vs Brown Trout – Let’s Compare The Differences

 

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 and Pacific, halibut[]
  2. Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, mahimahi[]
  3. FDA: Seafood Nutrition Facts[]
  4. National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease[]
  5. National Institutes of Health: Selenium[]
  6. American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure[]
  7. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach[]
  8. Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure[]
  9. Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure[]
  10. National Institutes of Health: Magnesium[]
  11. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[]
  12. Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions[]
  13. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish[]
  14. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mercury accumulation in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in a Florida lake[]
  15. Wikipedia: Mahi-mahi[]
  16. NOAA Fisheries: Atlantic Mahi Mahi[]
  17. NOAA Fisheries: Pacific Mahimahi[]
  18. NOAA: Pacific Halibut[]
  19. University of Maine: Maine Seafood Guide – Halibut[]
  20. Wikipedia: Pacific halibut[]
  21. Wikipedia: Atlantic Halibut[]
  22. Wikipedia: Halibut[]

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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