Mahi Mahi and cod are excellent protein options; however, one may be better than the other based on your goals, nutrient requirements, or preferences.
So, what are the differences between mahi mahi and cod? The main differences between mahi mahi and cod are that mahi mahi is slightly higher in calories (+3 kcal) and protein (+0.7 g) while cod is richer in nutrients, like omega-3 (+78 mg).
As a Registered Dietitian, it’s my job to recommend the best foods for each client’s goals. In this article, I’ve used my expertise to compare mahi mahi and cod to help you decide which is the best option.
After reading this article, you’ll learn:
- The pros and cons of each fish
- The differences between mahi mahi and cod
- Which is better for different diets
Mahi Mahi vs. Cod: Nutritional Information
Mahi mahi and cod have similar nutritional information, but there are slight differences, which you can see in the table below. The table reflects the nutritional information of 100 g of mahi mahi and cod.
|Saturated fats (g)||0.2||0.1|
|Monounsaturated fats (g)||0.1||0.1|
|Polyunsaturated fats (g)||0.2||0.2|
Mahi mahi and cod have very similar caloric content, with Mahi mahi having 85 kcal and cod 82 kcal, meaning they only have a 3 kcal difference which isn’t significant.
Mahi mahi and cod are both lower calorie protein sources, so they’re great options for those who want to lose weight. As lower calorie protein sources, these fish make it easier to achieve a calorie deficit (fewer calories than your body needs to maintain weight) for weight loss.
If you want to incorporate these fish while bulking, you’ll have to pair them with higher-calorie foods like avocado, nuts, seeds, or olive oil. The caloric content of these fish won’t be enough to achieve a calorie surplus (more calories than your body needs to maintain weight) unless you add higher-calorie foods.
The protein content of mahi mahi and cod is also similar, with mahi mahi having only 0.7g more protein than cod. The difference in the protein content of these fish isn’t significant enough to say that one is a better protein source than the other.
Protein is an important nutrient because it encourages muscle retention and growth, increases metabolism (slightly), and keeps you full for longer by suppressing your hunger hormone ghrelin.
Mahi mahi and cod are lower in protein than other fish because they have less than 20 grams of protein in a 100-gram serving. Protein sources like salmon, tuna, and halibut have more than 20 grams of protein in a 100-gram serving.
Generally, I recommend that my clients consume at least 20 grams of protein per meal. Mahi mahi and cod on their own are just short of this, so they need to be paired with other foods containing protein.
- If you need help finding ways to increase your protein intake, check out these 40– and 50-gram protein meals.
Mahi mahi and cod have the same fat content at 0.7g per serving; however, mahi mahi has 0.2g of saturated fat, and cod only has 0.1g.
Mahi mahi and cod are lean sources of protein because they have less than one gram of fat per serving, which is ideal for those trying to increase their protein intake without increasing their fat intake.
Another benefit of these fish is that they are very low in saturated fats. A high intake of saturated fat has been linked to heart disease. Thus, the American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 7% of your total calories from saturated fats.
If your daily calorie intake is 2000 calories, you would need fewer than 140 calories from saturated fats. Mahi mahi and cod would only contribute 1.8 and 0.9 calories, respectively, which is very low.
One of the biggest differences between mahi mahi and cod is their micronutrient composition, with cod having a higher micronutrient value than mahi mahi.
The following table provides the daily recommended value for each nutrient in a 100 g serving of mahi mahi and cod.
If it has less than 5%, it is classified as a poor source of that nutrient; but if it has more than 20%, it is an excellent source.
|Ingredient||Mahi Mahi - Daily Recommended Value in 100g portion||Cod - Daily Recommended Value in 100g portion|
The Top Nutrients In Mahi Mahi and Their Benefits
- Niacin. A study showed that having 2 grams of niacin per day can help reduce your triglyceride levels by 20 to 50%, significantly reducing your risk of heart disease.
It should be noted that mahi mahi is also a significant source of Vitamin B6, selenium, and Vitamin B12, but it’s not as rich in these nutrients as cod.
The Top Nutrients In Cod and Their Benefits
- Selenium. A powerful antioxidant that can help boost your immune function and promotes heart health.
- Phosphorus. One of the minerals responsible for optimal bone health.
- Vitamin B12. Encourages healthy red blood cells and neurons and potentially reduces the risk of severe depression.
- Vitamin B6. Helps convert the food you eat into energy your body can use.
- Potassium. Helps regulate your heartbeat, maintain optimal fluid balance, and muscle contraction. A low potassium intake has been linked to an increase in muscle cramps.
It should be noted that cod is also a significant source of niacin but has less than mahi mahi.
Mahi Mahi vs. Cod: 5 Differences
1. Taste and Texture
One difference between mahi mahi and cod is their taste and texture. Mahi mahi and cod both have a sweet taste, but mahi mahi tends to have a milder flavor while cod has a more fishy flavor.
They both have flaky textures, but mahi mahi tends to flake less than cod. For this reason, cod might be better in fish cakes, whereas mahi mahi is probably better in fish tacos.
I’m declaring cod the winner because I enjoy its fishy taste more than mahi mahi milder flavor, but this really just comes down to my personal preference. If you like milder flavors, then you’d probably prefer mahi mahi.
2. Cooking Methods
Another difference between cod and mahi mahi is their cooking methods, with mahi mahi being easier to work with than cod because it is less flaky.
Both fish can be baked, pan-fried, or air-fried, but cod is much more difficult to fry because it tends to fall apart quite easily. If you prefer your fish served as a filet rather than a flaky mess, then mahi mahi is the better choice.
The cooking times of mahi mahi and cod are the same, taking approximately 10-15 minutes, making them a fast protein to cook.
Winner: Mahi Mahi
While they have similar cooking methods and time to cook, mahi mahi is less likely to fall apart, so it is the better option.
There is a significant difference between the price of mahi mahi and cod, with mahi mahi costing $5 to $7 less than cod.
Depending on the store, cod has a price between $15 to $17, while mahi mahi has a price of $10 to $17. If you are considering buying cod, go to Walmart since it has the lowest price. However, to buy mahi mahi go to Target, Costco, or Whole Foods.
The following table compares the price of some major US stores for mahi mahi and cod for one pound of each fish.
|Fish (1lb)||Walmart||Costco||Target||Whole Foods|
Winner: Mahi Mahi
Mahi mahi has the lower price, ranging from $10 to $12 on average, with Walmart having the most expensive option at $17 per pound.
4. Omega-3 and Omega-6
Another difference between mahi mahi and cod is their omega-3 content, with cod having 78mg more omega-3 than mahi mahi. However, both are low in omega-6, which can help reduce inflammation.
Your body needs some inflammation from omega-6 to help repair wounds and fight off infection, but problems arise when there is more inflammation than the body can handle.
The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 plays an important role in your inflammatory state. Ideally, this ratio is 2:1 (omega-6 : omega-3) to allow for adequate levels of inflammation but not too much.
However, in most cases, people have a 16:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 because people are eating more fried foods than nutrient-dense anti-inflammatory foods.
To help balance out this ratio and lower inflammation levels, you should prioritize anti-inflammatory foods like mahi mahi and cod, which are quality sources of omega-3.
Cod has a higher concentration of omega-3 than mahi mahi (+78 mg) and low levels of omega-6, so it can help encourage a healthy ratio of inflammation and anti-inflammation.
5. Mercury Content
Another difference between mahi mahi and cod is their mercury content. Cod is lower in mercury than mahi mahi since mahi mahi is classified as moderate in mercury, and cod is classified as low in mercury.
Mercury poisoning occurs with overconsumption of mercury, which is linked to eating fish. Symptoms of mercury poisoning include fatigue, headache, memory problems, and tremors.
It is still safe to consume fish as long as you’re not overconsuming fish that are known to be higher in mercury. The FDA has created this table to classify fish into different categories based on their mercury levels: low (best option), moderate (good choice), and high (choice to avoid).
Based on their mercury content, there will be suggestions on how often to consume these fish. Cod is in the “best choice” group, making it low in mercury and safe to consume 2-3 times per week. Mahi mahi is in the “good option” group, which means it is moderate in mercury and only safe to consume 2 times per week.
Cod is lower in mercury, allowing you to have it more often (2-3 times per week) with less risk of mercury poisoning.
Mahi Mahi vs. Cod on Environmental Sustainability
Another consideration for mahi mahi and cod is how they’re raised (farm-raised or wild-caught) because it impacts environmental sustainability. Both mahi mahi and cod can be farmed-raised or wild-caught.
Farmed-raised animals are bred in small controlled environments, but because of close quarters, farm-raised fish have a higher risk of disease. To prevent farm-raised fish from getting sick, farmers will give them antibiotics, which pollute the water and affect the rest of the farm’s wildlife.
This is a problem because when the food you’re eating contains antibiotics, you become more adapted to them over time. So when you get sick and need antibiotics, they are less effective than they should be.
Wild-caught fish are obtained from their natural environment and are generally healthier and more plentiful in omega-3 fatty acids (50% higher than farm-raised fish).
Mahi mahi and cod can be wild-caught, so as long as you purchase them over farm-raised fish, you can help the environment and increase your omega-3 intake.
Mahi Mahi vs. Cod on Different Diets: Which Is Better
The keto diet involves getting most of your calories from fat, some from protein, and little to no carbs. Mahi mahi and cod are low-fat protein options, so neither are ideal for the keto diet unless paired with higher fat foods.
If you did want to include mahi mahi or cod on the keto diet to increase the variety of your protein sources, then you could pair them with butter, olive oil, olives, or avocado to increase the fat content of your meal.
Mahi mahi and cod are evenly matched when it comes to the keto diet because they’re both low-fat proteins.
The goal of the paleo diet is to reduce inflammation, which can be accomplished by including foods that are plentiful in omega-3s and low in omega-6s.
Cod is the better option for those on the paleo diet because it is higher in omega-3 than mahi mahi and has a low omega-6 content, which helps to reduce inflammation.
Cod is higher in omega-3 than mahi mahi and has a low omega-6 content, making it more anti-inflammatory.
Intermittent fasting involves limiting the time spent eating during the day by setting strict guidelines on when to eat and when to fast. One of the struggles of intermittent fasting is reaching one’s protein requirements in this shortened eating window.
It’s important to choose high-protein foods to consume enough protein and prevent losses in muscle mass. Neither mahi mahi nor cod have enough protein to be considered high-protein, but they can help contribute to your daily protein intake.
Mahi mahi is a slightly better because it has 0.7 g more protein than cod, but this isn’t a significant difference.
Winner: Mahi Mahi
Mahi mahi has a slightly higher protein intake which can help you reach your protein requirements with a shorter eating window.
Both fresh mahi mahi and cod are excellent options for a low-sodium diet since they are naturally low in sodium.
They are both low in sodium, making them ideal to have on a low-sodium diet.
Low FODMAP Diet
Both mahi mahi and cod don’t have any FODMAPs since they don’t have carbs, making them a great option for those with irritable bowel syndrome.
However, you should be mindful when seasoning your fish because garlic and onion are high in FODMAPs and cause gastric discomfort.
Both mahi mahi and cod are low in FODMAPs, making them excellent options for those with IBS.
Mahi Mahi vs. Cod: Which Is Better For Weight Loss?
Cod is a better option for weight loss because it is lower in calories than mahi mahi, which can help you achieve a caloric deficit (eating fewer calories than your body needs to maintain weight) more easily.
With that said, the caloric difference between mahi mahi and cod is just 3 kcal, which isn’t a very significant difference, so these fish can be substituted for one another while dieting.
They both have a moderate amount of protein which can keep you full for longer and help you stick to your diet.
To ensure that you’re in a calorie deficit and eating enough protein to maintain your muscle mass, I recommend using a calorie and macro tracking app like MacroFactor. Using this link gets you an extra week on your free trial (2 weeks total). Cancel any time before your trial ends without being charged.
The Winner: Cod
Cod has slightly fewer calories than mahi mahi, making it slightly better for weight loss.
Mahi Mahi vs. Cod: Which Is Better For Muscle Gain?
Mahi mahi is the best option when you are looking to gain muscle because it has slightly more calories and protein than cod. This is helpful because to gain weight, you must be in a caloric surplus (eating more calories than your body needs) and have an adequate protein intake.
Mahi mahi has 3 kcal more than cod and 0.7 g more protein, which isn’t very significant, but it is still more than cod. Neither of these fish are great for muscle gain on their own because they’re both low-calorie fish with only moderate amounts of protein.
Therefore, to build muscle, you must ensure you’re eating high-calorie, high-protein foods alongside these fish.
Winner: Mahi Mahi
Mahi mahi has slightly higher calorie and protein content which is important for weight gain.
Practical Recommendations: Eating Mahi Mahi vs. Cod
Mix Them Up
Make sure to include lots of variety in your diet to give your body different nutrients. Rather than having cod every day, add cod one day and mahi mahi the following day. This will ensure you get different nutrients and their benefits from each protein source.
Also, make sure to include fish and other protein sources like eggs, chicken, seafood, Greek
yogurt, and cheese.
Choose The One You Like
Even though cod might be higher in nutrients, if you don’t like the flavor of cod, you don’t need to include it. One specific food won’t make or break your diet, so there is no need to force yourself into having something you don’t like.
Cook Them In Different Ways
If you’re struggling to include these fish because you don’t know how to cook them or are bored of eating plain fish, then it’s time to try something new.
Here are a couple of recipes to help you include mahi mahi and cod into your diet:
Other Cod Comparisons
Other Mahi Mahi Comparisons
About The Author
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.