In the world of seafood, cod is a quiet cousin. Other fish, especially salmon and tuna, get all the attention as standout sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. But the humble cod is unfairly forgotten, says Elisabetta Politi, RD, MPH, nutrition manager of the Duke Diet & Fitness Center. "I sometimes think we emphasize the omega-3-rich fish so much that we forget that eating fish in general is a great strategy to control your weight and also [help] prevent heart disease," Politi says.
Cod, which belongs to the same fish family as haddock and pollock, is a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins B6 and B12. Cod liver oil is one of the best sources of vitamin D. Cod is good for you in other ways, too.
"When we eat fish, we tend to eat fewer calories and less saturated fat, which is linked to a lower risk of heart disease," Politi says. Cod has just 30 calories per ounce, a fraction of the calories in red meat or chicken. A 3-ounce serving has 90 calories, plus 19 grams of protein and only 1 gram of fat. Another bonus: Cod is a smart choice if you're watching your cholesterol, because it has almost no saturated fat.
With a mild taste, cod is the perfect backdrop for a variety of flavors, and it cooks in minutes. "It's a great choice if you want to prepare a healthy meal in no time," Politi says.
Pair cod tacos with fresh, crunchy coleslaw for a new twist on taco night.
1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise
2 Tbsp low-fat milk
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 (14-ounce) bag coleslaw mix
6 (5-ounce) cod fillets
dash of salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tomato, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 to 2 limes, cut in wedges
1. Make coleslaw: Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl, whisk to blend, and toss with coleslaw mix to combine thoroughly. Set aside.
2. Coat a large, nonstick grill pan with cooking spray, and heat over medium-high heat. Sprinkle cod fillets with salt and pepper. Add to pan, and cook 3 minutes on each side or until flaky. Remove fish from pan.
3. Warm tortillas; then place cod, onions, and coleslaw on each. Garnish with tomatoes and cilantro. Fold tortillas in half, and serve with lime wedges.
Per serving: 291 calories, 30 g protein, 38 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 62 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 258 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 9%