Health Benefits of Cod

Medically Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, RD, LD, MPH on August 22, 2022
3 min read

Cod has been an important food source for centuries. Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is named after this flaky white fish. Early settlers on the North American east coast used cod as an important protein source. 

Codfish can weigh as much as 200 pounds and live up to 20 years. They prefer to stay in relatively shallow water, making them a convenient choice for fishing. Historically, cod has suffered from overfishing. But today, cod are protected by fishing regulations aimed at raising populations while still allowing for regular fishing.

The vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats found in cod provide significant health benefits. It’s rich in vitamin B12, which is an important part of your body’s nerve and blood cells. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent anemia by keeping your red blood cells in good condition. Some people who eat plant-heavy diets may find that consuming vitamin B12 helps improve their energy levels. 

Other health benefits of cod include:

Lower Cholesterol

Cod, like many fish, is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids—an essential fat. The body needs omega-3 fats, but it can’t produce them on its own. As a result, it’s essential that you get these fats through your diet. Getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can help lower triglycerides, a type of unhealthy cholesterol.

High B lood P ressure Control

Studies have found that consuming omega-3s can help decrease blood pressure by several points, helping reduce your risk of heart disease. Eating enough omega-3 fatty acids might even be better for controlling high blood pressure than reducing your salt consumption.

Reduced R isk of H eart D isease

Eating plenty of fish has been shown to cut mortality from coronary heart disease by up to 30%. Eating fish like cod at least once a week also reduces the risk and severity of heart disease and stroke.

Improved Brain Function

Eating fish like cod on a regular basis can help keep your brain in good condition as you age. According to one study, eating baked or broiled fish at least once a week reduces the loss of gray matter in your brain that occurs as we grow older. While more studies need to be done on the subject, eating fish regularly may also correlate to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s d isease

Cod is a low-fat source of protein, making it an excellent choice for people who would like to reduce their fat intake and improve their heart health. 

Cod also contains a significant amount of iodine, which is an important mineral for thyroid function. Iodine helps your thyroid regulate hormones that control the body’s metabolism and cognitive function. Consuming enough iodine can help prevent problems like goiters, birth defects, and symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Cod is an excellent source of:

Nutrients per Serving

A four-ounce serving of cod (about the size of a deck of cards) contains:

Health Risks of Eating Cod

Like all animal products, raw cod may potentially harbor bacteria or parasites. It’s important to cook cod thoroughly to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure it’s safe to eat.

Cod is an ocean fish found in the Atlantic Ocean, especially off the coast of New England. It’s in season all year long, so you can easily find it in grocery stores and seafood shops, whether fresh or frozen. 

Since cod has so little fat, it’s best to cook it with other liquids or healthy fats to keep it from drying out. Baked cod is best cooked with a liquid in the pan such as white wine or butter. You can also steam cod and then quickly finish it in a pan to crisp the edges and add texture. 

Here are some ways to add cod to your diet:

  • Bake cod with olive oil.
  • Pan-fry cod with butter and garlic.
  • Bread cod fillets and broil them.
  • Add white wine and lemon to cod for a baked cod casserole.
  • Steam cod with a rich vinegar sauce.