Walleye and cod are both popular fish people love to cook. They have some similarities but also have differences. You may be wondering, what is the difference between walleye and cod?
Walleye and cod are different species of fish from different families. Walleye is a freshwater fish while cod is found in salt water oceans and seas. Adult cod grow longer and weigh more than adult walleye. Walleye have dark and gold coloring compared to the light brown coloring on a cod.
This article will include a side-by-side comparison of all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients contained in both fish. In addition, I’ll examine their tastes, textures, mercury levels, costs and if one can substitute for the other.
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Walleye and Cod Nutrient Comparison
Below is a nutrient comparison of walleye and cod per four ounces:
|Nutrient||Atlantic Cod, raw (4 Ounces)||Walleye, raw (4 Ounces)|
|Fat||0.8 g||1.4 g|
|Saturated Fat||0.1 g||0.3 g|
|Cholesterol||49 mg||98 mg|
|Protein||20 g||22 g|
|Omega-3||0.22 g||0.40 g|
|B-6||0.2 mg||0.1 mg|
|B-12||1.0 mcg||2.2 mcg|
|Thiamin||0.08 mg||0.30 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.07 mg||0.18 mg|
|B5||0.1 mg||0.8 mg|
|Iron||0.4 mg||1.4 mg|
|Niacin||2.3 mg||2.6 mg|
|Folate||7.9 mcg||17.0 mcg|
|Potassium||468 mg||441 mg|
|Magnesium||36 mg||34 mg|
|Phosphorus||230 mg||238 mg|
|Calcium||18.1 mg||124.7 mg|
|Zinc||0.5 mg||0.7 mg|
|Selenium||37.5 mcg||14.2 mcg|
Both fish contain a wide variety of similar nutrients. Walleye contains more of some nutrients while cod contains more of others. Which is healthier, walleye or cod?
Walleye is healthier than cod due to its higher percentage of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and minerals. Walleye provides more B12, thiamin, riboflavin, B5, niacin, folate, phosphorus, calcium and zinc. Walleye also contains two more grams of protein for every four ounces than cod.
Cod is healthy also and contains a large number of the same nutrients. Cod provides more B6, potassium, magnesium and selenium.
The next section explains how these nutrients benefit health. Especially omega-3 fatty acids which walleye contains almost double of.
Walleye and Cod Health Benefits
Walleye Health Benefits
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Walleye provides 0.40 grams of omega-3s per four ounces. The omega-3 fatty acids help keep arteries healthy and are considered heart healthy.
The omega-3s may help with the following:
- Lowering triglycerides.
- Reduce inflammation.
- Reduce plaque buildup.
- Keeping bad cholesterol low.
- Keeping good cholesterol high.
- 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 boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
In addition, they’ve been shown to help reduce joint pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Walleye provides more of six of the seven B vitamins listed below.
The B vitamins provided include the following:
- B1 (thiamin)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B9 (folate)
B vitamins help support the following:
- Brain function.
- Energy levels.
- Red blood cells.
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Nerve function.
Walleye provides 238 mg of phosphorus and cod 230 mg. It has been shown in scientific research to help with the following:
- Promote teeth and bone strength.
- Muscle recovery after exercise.
- Muscle contraction.
- Help the body store and manage energy.
- Help the kidneys remove waste.
- Promote healthy nerve conduction.
Walleye provides 124.7 mg of calcium. It 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 5.
In addition, calcium helps the following:
- Build and maintain strong bones.
- Muscles need calcium to function properly.
- Improve nerve function.
Cod, walleye and other fish are known for being a part of many diets like keto or heart healthy.
If you’re eating low-carb or want to give keto a try, many of my clients have followed this 28-Day Keto Challenge with great success. Visit their website and check it out.
Cod Health Benefits
Cod provides 36 mg of magnesium. It helps to calm and relax the whole body including blood vessels. It has been shown to help improve sleep related problems like insomnia 6.
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 7.
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.
Cod provides 37.5 mg for every four ounces. Selenium is a nutrient which doesn’t receive much press. I’m unsure why many people don’t write about it more. Many studies 8 show selenium may help to protect the following:
- Cognitive issues
- Heart disease
- The immune system
Cod provides 468 mg of potassium and walleye 441 mg per four ounces. Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium which helps reduce fluid build-up. The result keeps systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 9.
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 10.
According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and increased blood pressure 11.
Walleye vs Cod: Tastes and Textures
One of the main reasons people chooses a particular fish to eat is its taste. When comparing the two fish, does walleye tastes like cod?
Walleye tastes mild to sweet compared to cod’s mild taste. At times walleye may have a slight fishy flavor depending where the fish was caught. Walleye and cod have a firm texture which is smooth and flakey.
What does walleye taste like? Walleye have a mild to sweet taste. For some people walleye may have a slightly fishy flavor but it’s not overpowering. The texture is firm but delicate and flakey.
What does cod taste like? Cod has a mild taste but doesn’t have a fishy flavor. The texture is firm and flaky. Atlantic cod tastes sweeter than pacific cod.
I polled my readers and members of food groups I belong to. The following are the results of my poll which consisted of 32 people. I asked which fish tasted better, walleye or cod?
- 44% preferred the taste of walleye.
- 37% preferred the taste of cod.
- 19% said they had no preference between the two.
Check out the differences between a walleye and white perch in my recent article, Walleye vs White Perch: What’s The Difference? We Compare.
Walleye and Cod Substitutions
When preparing recipes for dinner you may have one fish already in the refrigerator ready to be used. In addition, it’s not always possible to locate the type of fish called for in the recipe. If you have some cod, you may ask, can I substitute cod for walleye?
Cod and walleye can substitute for each other due to their similar mild to sweet tastes and firm textures. Walleye and cod can be used in many of the same recipes and cooking methods. They both can be cooked by baking, broiling, steaming, grilling and frying.
Walleye substitutes include the following:
- Yellow perch
Other cod substitutes include the following:
- Striped bass
- Mahi mahi
When substituting walleye or cod 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.
How To Cook Walleye
The most popular cooking methods for walleye are:
- Pan frying
Walleye flavor pairings:
- Black pepper
- Olive oil
- Fish dill
- Pickle juice
How To Cook Cod
Popular cooking methods for cod including:
- Deep frying
Cod flavor pairings:
- White wine
- Olive oil
- Fresh herbs
- Cayenne pepper
Walleye and sauger are more similar to each other. Find out how people can tell the difference between the two in my article, Walleye vs Sauger – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare.
How Much Walleye and Cod Cost
The costs for fresh fish will vary depending on how the fish are caught and where they are sold. When purchasing any fish, be sure to check the label to see if it is wild-caught or farm raised. Therefore, which is costs more, walleye or cod?
Walleye cost more per pound than cod. The average cost for fresh walleye fillets is $18.65 per pound. The average costs for fresh cod fillets are $12.99 per pound.
I checked online at Walleye Direct and found the following prices:
- Wild, walleye fillets
- $19.80 per pound
I checked Whyte’s Fishery online and found the following prices for white perch and walleye:
- fresh walleye fillets
- $17.50 per pound
- Fresh cod fillets
- $12.50 per pound
Fresh Direct online:
- Wild Atlantic cod
- $13.49 per pound
Walleye and Cod Mercury Levels
The EPA and The Food and Drug Administration have issued warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and how often they should be consumed 13. This is especially important for the following:
- Pregnant women
- Developing children
- Young infants
They established a list of the following:
- Best fish
- Good choices
- Fish to avoid
Therefore, does cod or walleye have more mercury?
Cod and walleye have similar levels of mercury. Cod and walleye are listed on the FDA’s best choice of fish regarding mercury levels.
If you’re pregnant, breast feeding or has a young child, Always check with a physician prior to eating new foods or changing your dietary habits.
If you’re consuming fish from the best list, The FDA recommends eating two to three servings per week total for adults.
Mercury warnings can change over time or affect only a particular area or state. Please check with your local EPA and FDA for the current recommendations 14.
Walleye vs Cod: Habitats, Size, Weight and Appearance
How can you tell a walleye from a cod?
To tell the difference between a walleye and cod is to check their dorsal fins, anal fins and body markings. Walleye have two dorsal fins while cod have three. Walleye have one anal fin while cod has two. Walleye have dark bands on the upper sides of their body. Cod has small dark spots on their sides.
Other ways to tell the difference between a walleye and a cod:
- Walleye has dark bands on the upper back mixed with gold coloring. Cod has a light brown color mixed with a grayish or greenish tint.
- Cod has a whisker under their chin. Walleye has no whiskers under their chin.
- Walleye’s tail fin is slightly forked. Cod’s tail fin is unforked.
- Walleye have a white spot at the bottom of their tail fin. Cod doesn’t have a white spot on their tail fin.
- Walleye’s body shape is fusiform compared to the heavier bodied cod.
- Walleye is found in freshwater while cod is found in the ocean or sea.
Walleye and Cod Scientific Classifications, Families, Species
Walleye are from:
- Family: Percidae
- Genus: Sander
- Species: S. vitreus
- Common nicknames: Yellow pike, yellow pickerel.
Pacific cod are from:
- Family: Gadidae
- Genus: Gadus
- Species: G. macrocephalus
- Common nicknames: Gray cod, gray fish.
Atlantic cod are from:
- Family: Gadidae
- Genus: Gadus
- Species: G. morhua
- Common nicknames: Cod, codling.
Walleye and cod are different species from different families of fish.
Walleye and Cod Habitats
- Walleye are native to Canada and North America. They can be found in Canada, the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, the Mississippi River basins from Canada, New York down south to Alabama and Arkansas.
- They can be found in lakes, reservoirs and rivers.
- Walleye prefer large, shallow lakes and are rarely found in brackish waters.
- Pacific cod 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.
- Atlantic cod is found in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean from Greenland to North Carolina and in the western Gulf of Maine.
Walleye are freshwater fish. Cod are saltwater fish.
Walleye and Cod Appearance
Walleye and Cod Colors
- Walleye have a dark, olive green back with olive green to golden sides. The coloring on the sides fades towards the white belly. There are five dark bands crossing over the back and upper sides.
- 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.
Walleye have olive green to golden sides while cod have light brown and green or gray coloring.
- Walleye has two dorsal fins. The front dorsal has about 12 spines and the second dorsal has 10-13 soft rays.
- Cod has three dorsal fins. The first dorsal is taller and all three have soft rays.
Walleye has two dorsal fins, the first one with spines and the second with soft rays. Cod has three dorsal fines all with soft rays.
- The walleye one anal fin has soft rays with no spines.
- Cod has two anal fins both with soft rays.
Walleye has one anal fin compared to cod which has two anal fins.
- The walleye tail fin is slightly forked.
- The cod tail fin is unforked.
The lower rear tip of the walleye tail fin is white.
- The walleye mouth is large but doesn’t extend past the eye line. The walleye lower jaw protrudes.
- The cod mouth is large but doesn’t extend past the eye line. The upper jaw protrudes over the lower jaw.
- Walleye has dark bars or saddles running from the upper sides over the back. Walleye’s eyes are large, pearlescent and opaque. Their caudal and anal fins have white colored tips.
- Cod has dark spots on the side of their body. Cod has whiskers on its lower jaw.
- The walleye body is long, thin and round.
- Cod are heavily bodied and long.
The walleye have a fusiform shape body which is more narrow than a cod. Walleye’s thinner body helps them swim through the water quicker and through fast currents.
Walleye and Cod Size and Weight
- Walleye average 22 inches long and weigh up to 20 pounds.
- Cod average 25 to 42 inches long and weigh up to 26 pounds depending if they live near the shore or off shore.
Cod is much longer and weighs more than walleye.
Walleye and Cod Lifespan
- Walleye lives up to 10 years.
- Cod lives up to 20 years.
Walleye consume the following:
- Small fish
- Yellow perch
- Large invertebrates
Cod consumes the following:
- Sea worms
- Sand eels
- Young haddock
Walleye and cod’s diet differ due to the freshwater environment of the walleye and the ocean environment of the cod.
Read Next – More Cod vs Fish Articles!
- Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, walleye, pike
- USDA: Fish
- Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, Atlantic, cod
- National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease
- Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure
- 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
- American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach
- Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure
- Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions
- FDA: Advice about Eating Fish
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mercury accumulation in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in a Florida lake
- Wikipedia: Walleye
- Chesapeake Bay Program: Walleye Sander Vitreus
- The National Wildlife Federation: Walleye
- NOAA Fisheries: Atlantic Cod
- Mass.gov: Learn about Atlantic cod
- The University of Maine: Maine Seafood Guide – Cod
- NOAA Fisheries: Pacific Cod
- Wikipedia: Cod
- Wikipedia: Pacific cod