Cod vs Tilapia: 7 Key Differences
cod vs tilapia

Fish is an essential part of the diet in most households as an authentic source of lean proteins. It helps keep the heart healthy with just the right amounts weekly. Both cod and Tilapia are nutritious, but they surely have several key differences.

Cod is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats, good for keeping your cholesterol levels in check. On the other hand, Tilapia offers the same nutritional benefits better than cod fish. It has more fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and other important minerals like potassium.

The cod vs Tilapia debate is tough because they are rich in proteins and significantly low in fat. However, this article will compare and explore the key differences between the two types of fish. Are you trying to add fish to your dinner? Stay tuned to pick your perfect addition.

What is Cod?

cod fish

Cod is a cold saltwater fish species found in oceans. There are three species of codfish, Atlantic, Pacific, and Greenland, but the Atlantic cod is the most popular species.

It is a rich source of protein, calcium, and magnesium and is low in calories with zero cholesterol. However, Atlantic cod fish plummeted in the 1990s due to overfishing, which forced the closure of the cod fishery in Canada. You will still find cod fish in stores, but they can be substituted with other fish species like Tilapia, haddock, groupers, and Pollock.

The tasty and meaty fish can be baked, pan-fried, or grilled and enjoyed with various side dishes.

Why Should You Eat Cod?

cod dish with basil

You should eat cod fish if you are watching your weight because it has a low-fat content. Even better, cod fish is good for people looking to build or maintain muscle because of its high protein and calcium content. So, if you are trying to stay in shape and lactose intolerant, cod fish is the way to go.

Cod fish is also great for pregnant women as a source of iron and a way to multiply their red blood cells.

Also, it is rich in vitamins B12 and D. Vitamin B12 is great for your red blood cells, while vitamin D promotes good absorption of calcium for stronger and healthier bones. Omega-3 fatty acids found abundantly in cod fish are great anti-inflammatory agents.

Lastly, cod fish contains selenium and phosphorus. Selenium is an antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation and heart disease risk. It also strengthens the immune system against illnesses.

Phosphorus is a great nutrient for bone and tooth health. It also plays a significant role in energy production in the body by enabling the smooth conversion of food to energy.

What is Tilapia?


Tilapia is a great alternative to cod fish. It is a freshwater fish that inhabits streams and rivers and is native to Africa but has been bred in ponds globally. There are three species of Tilapia; blue Tilapia, Nile, and Mozambique.

It is a rich source of protein, calcium, and iron. As aforementioned, Tilapia is richer in fats and omega-6 fatty acids than cod. Farmed Tilapia is richer in fats than farmed cod because it is fed a processed diet like corn to help accumulate more fats. The fish is less environmentally friendly for the same reason as its cod counterparts.

However, Tilapia has a fairly rich, nutty flavor, which makes it versatile for everything in the kitchen. It can be substituted by catfish, snapper, hake, haddock, cod, and tilefish.

Tilapia can be baked, fried, seared, grilled, roasted, broiled, and enjoyed with various side dishes.

Why Should You Eat Tilapia?

fried tilapia

Again, Tilapia is great for people looking to lose or maintain weight because it is rich in protein and low in fat. It is also good for pregnant women since it is a great source of iron for the relative production of red blood cells.

It is also rich in vitamin D and calcium, essential for building strong and healthy bones. However, farmed Tilapia has lower omega-3 fatty acids than expected but still suffices as a source of protein and other vitamins and minerals.

Tilapia also has more vitamin B12 than most fish, even though the content levels are still lower than those in cod fish. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the production of red blood cells. Its deficiency may lead to anemia and organ failure due to insufficient oxygen.

Lastly, it contains niacin, which plays an important role in reducing the risk of high blood pressure. Niacin also combines with other vitamins present in the B complex to enable the production of energy in the body.

Key Differences

Nutritional value

Cod and Tilapia are great heart-healthy seafood. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and minerals like iron, calcium, and potassium. They also offer great help in maintaining cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

They are also great for losing weight, but if you had to pick one, cod is your best choice because of its lower calories and fat per serving. They are both still high in protein content.

However, Tilapia would be a better choice for muscle gain since it has slightly higher protein levels than cod fish. It is considered a low-calorie protein, and you would still have to add sources of calories.


Tilapia and cod have great flavors that pair well with your wide range of spices. However, Tilapia has a mild taste, while cod is more intense. Tilapia’s taste is low-key, which makes it versatile for everything from frying to casseroles. It also embodies a tender texture to water your mouth and breaks apart easily.

On the other hand, cod has a more intense fishy taste with a sweeter and distinctive milky flavor. The flesh is firmer with huge flakes. The texture nearly matches that of chicken, which makes cod suitable for multiple cooking methods.

Cooking Techniques

grilled tilapia

The other difference between cod and Tilapia is how they are cooked. They are both easy to cook and can be cooked in different ways, including air frying, pan frying, and baking.

Even though they are both less thick, cod has a firmer texture and may take longer to cook than Tilapia. It also means that cod can be cooked in other methods like grilling or broiling without worrying about overcooking them. Both turn from pinkish to white when fully cooked.

Tilapia tends to be flakier than cod, making cod a better choice when making breaded fish sticks.

Omega-3 and Fatty Acids 

The body cannot produce omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, and you should always incorporate them into your diet. Omega-3 helps combat inflammation, reduce pain, promote quick muscle recovery, and keep the gut healthy.

Omega-6 promotes brain function and growth. However, it may promote inflammation, causing weight gain and poor digestion if consumed in large quantities.

Tilapia contains more omega-3 and 6 fatty acids than cod. Therefore, cod is a better choice for balancing the omega-3 and omega-6 ratio in the body. You could still eat Tilapia provided you cut out other sources of omega-6 like peanuts and cooking oil.

Mercury Content

Some people might avoid eating fish because of the controversy associated with mercury levels. Exposure to too much mercury causes mercury poisoning which can lead to other health problems such as headaches, fatigue, loss of memory, depression, anxiety, and other neurological issues.

Both cod and Tilapia are considered low in mercury content and safe to consume. However, according to the FDA, Tilapia has less mercury than cod. 

Eating fish sparingly, 2-3 servings per week, is still advisable. More precaution is recommended for pregnant and nursing women and children. You can substitute cod fish with Tilapia for children and pregnant women.


Tilapia is commonly farmed and tends to be loaded with more fats and omega-6 fatty acids because of the harmful diet they are subjected to. Farmed Tilapia also requires large amounts of feed to raise fish. Such Tilapia is harmful to the environment because of the high omega-6 content and other harmful substances like antibiotics and antimicrobials.

It would be wiser to choose cod, considering it is widely found in the wild. However, some species like Atlantic cod are endangered. You can substitute their absence with pacific cod, which still exists in plenty.

Tilapia would make a sustainable substitute for cod fish should the stocks continue to plummet due to overfishing. Nonetheless, farming cod is cheaper than Tilapia and would be an alternative for the plummeting wild stock.


The other benefit of choosing Tilapia over cod is the cost difference. You can get Tilapia at half the price of cod. The prices vary depending on the type of fish; wild or farmed, frozen or fresh, and individual grocery stores.

If you are operating on a budget but like to eat fish a couple of times a week for whatever reason, Tilapia would be a better choice. Wild cod is generally more expensive.


All things considered, there is no clear better fish in the cod vs Tilapia discussion. They are similar and their difference leaves a window for substituting them with each other. Cod and Tilapia are nutritious and simple to cook. Be sure to choose whatever appeals to your personal taste and preference. 

Be sure to check here for more cooking tips and hacks.

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