There are a few different types of cod available. Selecting seafood at the market can be overwhelming at times. When deciding which one, a question often asked is, what is the difference between Pacific Cod and Atlantic Cod?
Atlantic cod tastes a little sweeter than Pacific and the texture is firmer due to less moisture content. Atlantic cod provides a higher percentage of vitamins and minerals. The average Pacific cod is smaller, weighs less and doesn’t live as long as The Atlantic cod. Atlantic cod is more expensive than Pacific cod.
This article will examine all the differences between the two fish in detail. I’ll compare their tastes, textures, habitats, costs, mercury levels and benefits. In addition, a table comparing their nutrients side-by-side is included.
As a Certified Health Coach, many of my clients ask me about seafood. In addition to coaching clients about cod, I’ve purchased, researched and consumed both fish for over 20 years.
Alaska Cod (Pacific) and Atlantic: Habitats, Size, Weight, Appearance
Let’s examine the differences between the two.
Atlantic cod and Pacific cod are both from the Gadidae family but are a different species. Atlantic cod is a longer fish and weighs more than Pacific cod. Pacific cod is darker with small spots while Atlantic has speckled spots. Pacific cod is found in the North Pacific Ocean and Atlantic cod in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean.
Atlantic cod is sometimes used as scrod. If you’re interested in learning about scrod and cod fish, check out my article about it, Scrod: There’s More To The Story.
Scientific Classifications, Families, Species
- Pacific Cod is from the Gadidae family, Gadus genus and species is macrocephalus.
- Atlantic Cod is from the Gadidae family, Gadus genus and species is morhua.
- Pacific cod is found in the North Pacific Ocean from the Bering Sea to California’s Pacific coast in the east and to the Sea of Japan in the west.
- Atlantic cod is found in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean from Greenland to North Carolina and in the western Gulf of Maine.
- Atlantic cod is brownish, greenish to light yellowish with small, dark spots and a light lateral line running down the body.
- Pacific cod is brownish or grayish with dark spots with a cream lateral line running down the body.
- Both of them have the typical long, narrow body shape and three dorsal fins.
Size and Weight
- Atlantic cod average 27-42″ in length and weighs 6-26 pounds depending if they are near shore or off shore.
- Pacific cod average 25-30″ in length and weighs 5-15 pounds.
- Atlantic cod lives up to 20 years or more.
- Pacific cod lives 20 years or less.
Population and Stock Assessment
The Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska stocks are not overfished. The Pacific Coast stocks have not been assessed.
Cod stock: There are four stocks of Pacific cod. The Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska (Alaska Pacific) and Aleutian Islands and Pacific coast.
Pacific cod are considered the world’s second-most abundant white fish.
Pacific Cod vs Atlantic Cod: Tastes and Textures
Cod Fish Tastes
The way a fish taste plays a huge decision when deciding between two fish to eat. Therefore, let’s take a close look at the tastes of both.
Pacific cod is more mild tasting than Atlantic cod. Atlantic cod’s taste is a little sweeter.
Atlantic cod has a mild, non-fishy taste. It’s good for people who dislike a fishy taste and is slightly more sweeter than Pacific cod.
Pacific cod has a mild, non-fishy taste. It also has a mild to sweet flavor. Both are good for people who want to avoid a fishy tasting seafood or strong taste.
The difference between the tastes of both are not large, and most people wouldn’t consider them to be much different. A side-by-side taste test may be necessary to pick out the difference, so that’s what I did.
I set up a blind taste test at my home. Both fish were cooked and seasoned the same way. Out of four people, it was a 50/50 split.
I conducted more original research on taste by polling my health coaching clients, readers and members of food groups I belong to.
- 55% said they preferred Pacific.
- 45% said they preferred Atlantic.
Atlantic cod is a little more firmer due to its lower moisture content. Pacific cod’s large flakes may come apart easier than Atlantic’s large flakes due to its higher moisture content.
A properly cooked cod is flaky, firm and moist. The Pacific cods have more moisture to them than Atlantic cods. Both fillets have large flakes and are thicker than many others.
Another article you should check out is Cod Alternatives: The 12 Best Substitutes. Try other fish like for variety or when it is unavailable.
Sometimes you won’t have the exact fish in your refrigerator or freezer for a recipe. Sometimes the seafood section of the supermarket doesn’t have the one you need. Therefore, let’s examine if you can substitute one for the other.
Pacific cod can substitute for Atlantic cod due to their similar mild to sweet tastes although the textures are sightly different. They both can be cooked using the same methods like frying, baking, broiling, steaming or poaching.
Good substitutes for Pacific or Atlantic include:
- Striped bass
- Mahi mahi
When substituting either one try to 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 1.
The cost of either one will differ depending on the location, fresh or frozen and whether it’s farm raised or wild caught. Let’s take a detailed look at the prices of each.
Atlantic Cod cost more than Pacific cod. The average cost for wild caught Atlantic cod is $13.99 per pound while the average cost for wild caught Pacific cod is $8.99 per pound.
I conducted research on the costs by visiting various stores and checked their prices.
First, I checked Freshdirect online for the current prices.
- Fresh, wild caught Atlantic cod
- $16.99 per pound
I checked the local Shopright supermarket, in store and online, and found the following prices.
- Fresh wild caught Alaska cod fillet
- $8.99 per pound
- Fresh wild North Atlantic cod fillet
- $13.99 per pound
Pacific Cod vs Atlantic Cod Nutrition Comparison
The table below lists the nutrients per four ounces.
|Nutrient||Atlantic Cod, raw (4 Ounces)||Pacific Cod, raw (4 Ounces)|
|Fat||0.8 g||0.5 g|
|Saturated Fat||0.1 g||0.1 g|
|Cholesterol||49 mg||53 mg|
|Protein||20 g||17 g|
|Omega-3||0.22 g||0.15 g|
|B-6||0.2 mg||0.1 mg|
|B-12||1.0 mcg||2.2 mcg|
|Thiamin||0.08 mg||0.03 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.07 mg||0.05 mg|
|B5||0.1 mg||0.3 mg|
|Iron||0.4 mg||0.2 mg|
|Niacin||2.3 mg||1.2 mg|
|Folate||7.9 mcg||7.9 mcg|
|Potassium||468 mg||266 mg|
|Magnesium||36 mg||22 mg|
|Phosphorus||230 mg||318 mg|
|Calcium||18.1 mg||9.0 mg|
|Zinc||0.5 mg||0.3 mg|
|Selenium||37.5 mcg||26.0 mcg|
Both fish contain a wide variety of similar nutrients. One contains more of some nutrients while the other contains more of others. What is healthier, Pacific cod or Atlantic cod?
Atlantic cod is healthier than Pacific cod due to its 50% more heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, less cholesterol and more protein. Atlantic cod provides a greater percentage of vitamins and minerals than Pacific including B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc and selenium.
Pacific cod is no slouch either and contains a large number of nutrients as well. It provides more B12, B5 and phosphorus. They both contain a similar number of folate.
How do these nutrients benefit health? The next section of this article explains how. I wrote an article which compared Atlantic Pollock. Check out that article, Atlantic Pollock: Is One Better? Let’s Compare.
Pacific Cod and Atlantic Cod Health Benefits
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Atlantic cod contains 50% approximately more omega-3s. Why does omega-3 fatty acids matter so much? 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.
Two of the fatty acids, DHA and EPA are associated with lowering blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels 4.
Also, they help keep the blood vessels healthy by reducing inflammation, plaque build-up, triglycerides and can help keep the heart rhythms more normal.
Many 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.
I recently wrote an article comparing blue cod. If you’re interested in how many omega-3s it contains or just want to learn about it, check out my article, Blue Cod – A Complete Comparison.
Both of them contain many B vitamins. These include B6, B12, B5, B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin) and B9 (folate). B vitamins help support the following:
- Red blood cells
- Brain function
- Energy levels
- Nerve function
- Cardiovascular health
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.
Studies 7 show selenium may help to protect the following:
- Immune system
- Heart disease
- Cognitive issues
- Thyroid health
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 8.
Potassium is beneficial for reducing sodium intake. It helps the body reduce fluids and rids excess sodium 9. This process helps to reduce blood pressure.
Pacific and Cod Atlantic: Mercury Levels
The FDA and the EPA have warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and how often to consume them 10. This is especially important for pregnant women, breastfeeding or for young toddlers and infants.
They established a list of best choices, good choices and ones to avoid based on their mercury levels. Let’s examine the mercury levels in each fish.
Pacific cod and Atlantic cod contain similar mercury levels. They are listed on the FDA’s best choices in regards to mercury levels.
Always check with a physician prior to eating new foods, changing your dietary habits and how often to consume certain food.
If you have any questions about this article or other featured content, don’t hesitate to email and notify us. You can find an email on our contact page. We’ll do our best to reply as soon as possible.
Read Next – More Cod vs Fish Articles!
- Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions
- Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, Atlantic, cod
- Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, Pacific, cod
- National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease
- National Institutes of Health: Magnesium
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis
- National Institutes of Health: Selenium
- Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure
- American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
- FDA: Advice about Eating Fish