Cod vs. Salmon: 6 Differences & Which Is Better?

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If you’re trying to decide whether to eat cod or salmon, know that both choices are healthy.  However, depending on your specific food preferences and nutrition goals, one might be slightly better than the other.  

So what are the differences between cod vs. salmon?  The main difference between cod and salmon is the caloric content. Salmon has 97 more calories per 100g compared with cod. So if you want a lower-calorie fish, pick cod.  However, salmon has 12 times the omega-3 content (healthy fat) than cod, which has been shown to decrease inflammation in the body. 

As a Registered Dietitian, I would recommend eating both cod and salmon because both have distinct benefits. However, before deciding which fish to eat, you should consider some individual factors that might make you lean one way or another.   

In this article, you will learn the differences between cod and salmon, and by the end, be able to determine which is a better option for your own diet. 

Cod vs. Salmon: Nutritional Information

The following table gives you the nutritional comparison for 100 g of raw cod and chinook salmon

IngredientCodSalmon
Calories82179
Carbs (g)00
Protein (g)17.819.9
Fats (g)0.710.4
Saturated fats (g)0.13.1
Monounsaturated fats (g)0.14.4
Polyunsaturated fats (g)0.22.8
Omega-3 (mg)1952,342
Omega-6 (mg)5122

Calories 

Salmon has almost twice the calories (+97 kcal) compared with cod. 

For those on a weight loss journey, choosing the lower calorie option (cod) can be beneficial. On the other hand, those looking to build muscle might want to go with the more caloric fish (salmon). 

Protein

Salmon has 2.1 more grams of protein per 100g than cod. This doesn’t represent a significant difference, but it’s something to note if you eat a lot of fish. 

For example, if you need to consume 200 g of fish per mealtime to get your desired amount of protein, this represents a difference of 4.2 g of protein. 

So why do we want more protein? It helps support our muscle mass, helps slightly increase our metabolism, and increases our fullness levels

For more ways to get in high amounts of protein with each meal, check out these 40 g protein meals and 50 g protein meals.

Fats

The biggest difference in the macronutrient profiles of cod and salmon comes from fat. Cod only has 0.7 g of fat per 100 g, while salmon has 10.4 g. This means that salmon has almost 15 times the fat content compared with cod. 

Even though salmon contains a higher content of saturated fat (3.1 g) compared to cod (0.1 g), it is still below the recommended saturated fat content of less than 5 g per serving in a protein source. 

A high intake of saturated fats (more than 6% of your total calories) can increase the risk of heart disease, so you want to keep your daily saturated fat intake low.

If you’re looking for more foods that are low in saturated fat, check out my list of the 10 best foods that are high in calories but low in saturated fat.

Have a FeastGood Nutrition Coach help you get results faster than trying to stick it out alone

Micronutrients

The micronutrient content (or the amount of various vitamins and minerals) is very different between cod and salmon.

In the following table, you can find the micronutrient comparison between cod vs. salmon for 100 g of each product. 

NutrientCod - Daily Recommended Value in 100g portionSalmon - Daily Recommended Value in 100g portion
Vitamin A2%0%
Vitamin C4%0%
Vitamin D11%65%
Vitamin E7%2%
Vitamin K0%2%
Thiamin12%3%
Riboflavin9%4%
Niacin24%20%
Vitamin B628%8%
Folate4%6%
Vitamin B1235%26%
Calcium4%1%
Iron5%3%
Magnesium18%7%
Phosphorus47%17%
Potassium27%9%
Zinc7%2%
Copper3%4%
Manganese2%2%
Selenium109%60%

Here are the top nutrients cod has and their benefits:

  • Phosphorus works along with calcium to preserve your bone health. It helps regulate how much calcium is in the body and how much gets excreted. This prevents calcium from depositing in your blood vessels, decreasing the risk of heart disease
  • Vitamin B6 has an impact on your mood. A study done on 299 older adults divided them into two groups. One group was given a pill containing B6, B9, and B12 for a 2-year trial, and the others took a placebo pill. At the end of the study, those that took the B complex supplement were 24% more likely to be free of depression. 

Here are the top nutrients salmon has and their benefits:

  • Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation in the body. It also plays a crucial role in your immune function since it helps kill pathogens that enter your body. 
  • Vitamin B12 is one of the nutrients in charge of creating red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. An inadequate intake could lead to anemia, which is a disease that prevents your body from producing healthy red blood cells. This leads to less oxygen being distributed throughout the body, making you feel tired and weak. 

Cod vs. Salmon: 6 Differences

Cod vs. Salmon 6 Differences

1. Taste and Texture

Since cod is a lean fish (only 0.7 g of fat), it has a more mild flavor than salmon. It also has a sweeter taste and a firm texture (often compared to chicken). 

On the other hand, salmon has a more intense and oily flavor. Some people would say it has a buttery taste with a more tender texture. 

Even though they have different flavors and textures, you can combine them with almost any spice or seasoning (such as Flavor God seasonings), making them great and versatile options in the kitchen. 

Winner: Salmon

This is a personal choice. When it comes to fish, salmon is my favorite. 

2. Cooking Methods

Cod and salmon have similar cooking methods. You can fry them, place them in the oven, or even cook them in the air fryer. 

The most significant difference comes in the cooking time. Since cod is lower in fat and usually tinner than salmon, it doesn’t take as long to cook. 

In most cases, it takes 10-15 minutes to cook cod, while it takes 15-20 minutes to cook salmon (depending on the thickness levels). 

Winner: Cod

It takes less time to cook, making it a great choice for those who need to save time in the kitchen. 

3. Costs

There is a significant difference in the price of each fish. While cod is lower in price in some grocery stores such as Walmart and Costco, salmon is lower in price in other stores such as Target and Whole Foods. 

In the following table, I compared the price of some of the biggest grocery chains available in the US. The price is given for one pound of each product. 

FishWalmartCostcoTargetWhole Foods
Cod$7.72$17.00$12.99$14.99
Salmon$9.77$20.00$9.99$11.99

Where you buy your groceries is something to consider since there could be a significant difference between them (almost a $10 difference between the cheaper and the most expensive options). 

Winner: Tie

It depends on where you buy your fish since cod is cheaper than salmon in some stores but more expensive than salmon in others. If you’re looking for the cheapest option, buy cod at Walmart. 

4. Omega-3 and Omega-6

Because our bodies do not produce omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, we need to get them from the food we eat. 

Omega-3s are important because they have anti-inflammatory properties in the body. On the other hand, omega-6s are pro-inflammatory. But while omega-6s cause some inflammation in the body, we need a certain degree of inflammation to help our body adapt to certain situations. 

This is why I recommend a ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s rather than removing omega-6s completely from your diet. 

The recommended ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s is typically 2:1. However, studies have shown that the average intake for most people is currently 16:1.

In other words, we get far too many omega-6s in our diet compared with omega-3s. 

The high intake of omega-6s creates an environment of inflammation in the body, leading to poor sleep, bad gut health, stomach issues, and difficulty losing weight.  

It is important to have high sources of omega-3s to compensate for the increased amounts of omega-6s often found in foods like vegetable oils, peanuts, corn oil, and ultra-processed foods. 

What does this have to do with cod and salmon? 

Salmon has a higher intake of omega-3s compared with cod. We only get 171 mg of omega-3s per 100g of cod, while we get 2,150 mg of omega-3s per 100g of salmon. This means salmon has 12 times more omega-3s than cod and can help you achieve a higher amount of omega-3s in your diet. 

Winner: Salmon

If you want to reduce inflammation by consuming more omega-3s, salmon is the right choice. 

5. Mercury

The addition of fish into one’s diet can create some concern about high mercury levels. Consuming too much mercury could lead to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, depression, tremors, and memory problems

The FDA classifies food according to how much mercury risk it can possess. Cod and salmon are the best choices since they are lower in mercury compared with other fish (mackerel or swordfish). 

While cod and salmon are both low in mercury, the FDA still advises consuming only 4 oz portions (the palm of your hand) 2-3 times per week to avoid mercury poisoning. 

Winner: Tie

They are both low in mercury, making them great options if you’re concerned about consuming too much mercury.

6. Environmental Sustainability

You can find both cod and salmon wild-caught or farm-raised. Wild-caught fish means fishermen caught it from their natural habitats. On the other hand, farm-raised fish are raised in tanks. 

One of the negative things about farm-raised fish is that it is very easy for them to get sick since they are grouped into tanks. When this happens, they are given antibiotics and other medications to prevent illnesses. 

In most cases, fish farms aren’t “sealed” (meaning they are located in rivers or the sea). These diseases spread to the wildlife around the farms. Additionally, the antibiotics or medicine given to the fish are spread, polluting the water and affecting other wildlife. 

Finally, one thing to consider is that the Atlantic cod is considered an endangered species. So if you are a cod lover, make sure to go with Pacific cod.

Winner: Salmon

It is not an endangered species, and it has a high nutritional value if wild-caught. 

Cod vs. Salmon on Different Diets

Keto

One of the mistakes people often make when doing a keto diet is that they don’t pay attention to the fat intake. Since fat is the primary energy source on a keto diet, you need to consume a larger intake (70-80% of your calories come from fat). 

This makes salmon a better option since it provides you with both protein and fat, meaning that you don’t have to worry about adding any more fat to your meals to have a good fat intake. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot have cod. Since cod is lower in fat, you can still add other high-fat food or cook it in oil or butter to help you reach your macros. 

Paleo

Both options are ideal to have on a paleo diet. Since the paleo diet focuses on having more omega-3 content, salmon might be a better option compared to cod.

However, if you want to include cod, you can include other high omega-3 sources like chia seeds or flaxseeds

Whenever possible, choose wild-caught vs. farmed raised since it will have a higher omega-3 content. A study showed that there could be a difference of 50% more omega-3 in wild-caught salmon than in farmed-raised salmon. 

Intermittent Fasting 

If you are fasting and have trouble reaching your caloric intake due to a shorter eating window, I recommend salmon since you can get high amounts of both fat and protein in one source. 

Low-Sodium Diet

Both options are an excellent choice to include in a low-sodium diet if they are fresh. However, if you buy canned cod or salmon, check the nutrition label to see how much sodium it contains. 

For example, a can of salmon can have around 360 mg of sodium (like the one from StarKist Wild Pink Salmon). On the other hand, Old Riga Cod Liver Canned in Own Oil has 230 mg of sodium, making it the better option if you’re watching your sodium intake. 

If sodium is a concern for you, stay below 150 mg per serving to ensure that it is low in sodium. 

Vegan

Neither food is suitable for a vegan diet since they are both animal products. If you are looking to replace fish, you can include mushrooms, tofu, or algae. 

Low FODMAPs

Cod and salmon are low in FODMAPs. Since they don’t contain any carbs, you can rest assured that they won’t cause you any gastric problems if you have irritable bowel syndrome

Nonetheless, if you buy them packaged, read the ingredient list to check if any ingredients (like wheat, onion, or garlic) may produce any symptoms.

I created a list of other low-FODMAP foods if you experience digestive distress with certain items: 15 High Calories Low FODMAP Foods.

Cod vs. Salmon: Which Is Better For Weight Loss?

Cod is better for weight loss since it has 97 fewer calories per 100g than salmon. Finding foods high in protein and low in calories can help you achieve your weight loss goals. 

Since cod is high in protein (17.8 g of protein per 100 g), it increases your fullness levels and slightly increases your metabolism since protein is harder for the body to digest. 

Increasing your fullness levels prevents you from snacking throughout the day, which ensures that you are able to stick to your caloric intake. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot have salmon during a weight loss phase. If you track the portion size and the calories it provides, you can adjust the calories from other foods for the rest of the day. 

I recommend the MacroFactor app for tracking calories since it has a large database of food verified by registered dietitians. Get a free 2-week trial using the code FEASTGOOD when you sign up.

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Cod vs. Salmon: Which Is Better For Muscle Gain?

Salmon is a better option than cod for muscle gain since it has more calories (+97 kcal) and more protein (+2.1 g) per 100g. For muscle building, you need to exercise, have a caloric surplus (eat more calories than your body needs), and have a high protein intake. 

Since salmon is high in calories, it allows you to reach your caloric intake throughout the day easily. For people that have trouble eating enough calories, finding very energy-dense foods (a lot of calories in a small portion of food) can help you achieve that caloric surplus without feeling too stuffed during the day. 

However, if you prefer to have cod, you just need to compensate by adding other high-calorie foods. You can add avocado, nuts, seeds, or olive oil to help you have the same caloric content as salmon. 

Practical Recommendations: Eating Cod vs. Salmon

Practical Recommendations Eating Cod vs. Salmon

Mix Them Up

A healthy diet consists of different foods throughout the week since they offer different nutrients. The more variety you have, the more nutrients you can get, making you less likely to have a nutritional deficiency. 

Even if you like salmon over cod (or the other way around), add variety to your protein options. Instead of adding salmon every day of the week, change it up with tuna, flounder, mackerel, sardines, or tilapia

Choose The One You Like

Even though one might be better than the other one for a particular case (such as weight loss or muscle gain), you don’t need to force yourself to have it if you don’t like the taste. 

Always make sure to choose the protein that you enjoy eating. Your mealtimes should be a moment where you develop a healthy connection with food, and this cannot be achieved if you are forcing yourself to eat something that you don’t like. 

Track Your Food

Since they have different calories and macro content, it is always important to track the foods you eat to ensure you are within your goals. 

Measure the protein size with a weight scale to ensure that you get enough protein throughout the day. You can use a calorie counter app like MacroFactor to help you record your food intake. 

This comes in handy when you want to substitute one for the other. Since salmon has a higher caloric intake, it can help you determine how many calories to subtract from the rest of your other foods to stay within your budget. 

Cook Them In Different Ways

One of the advantages of fish is that you can cook them in different ways with different flavors each time, providing some variety to your meals. If you don’t know how to cook salmon or cod, here are a few recipes that can help you out: 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Cod Less Calories Than Salmon?

Yes, cod has 97 fewer calories per 100g than salmon. While they have a very similar protein content (they only differ by 2.1 g), the biggest reason for the caloric content is fat. Cod has 0.7 g of fat, while salmon has 10.4 g. Since fat is a very energy-dense food (9 kcal per gram), salmon is higher in calories. 

Which Has More Fat Cod or Salmon?

Salmon has a higher fat content than cod. Cod only has 0.7 g of fat per 100g, while salmon has 10.4 g of fat. This means that salmon has 15 times more fat content than cod. Its high-fat content also means that it is higher in calories (+97 kcal). 

Can I Substitute Cod For Salmon?

No. Substituting cod for salmon won’t give you the same calories or fat content. The protein content is the only thing they have in common. If you want to substitute cod for salmon, be sure to count the extra calories and grams of fat salmon provides.

Other Fish Comparisons

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About The Author

Brenda Peralta

Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist.  In addition to being an author for FeastGood.com, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.