Cod Fillet: Nutritional Properties, Role in the Diet and How to Cook it by R.Borgacci

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What is cod fillet?

The cod fillet is a product of animal origin derived from the processing of fish belonging to the Gadidae biological family.

It is part of the 1st fundamental food group - foods rich in high biological value proteins, vitamins (many in group B and vit D) and specific minerals (phosphorus, iron, zinc and iodine), as well as omega 3 biologically essential seeds active eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - but in reality it is a derivative, whose production determines not a few "waste" of processing.

Did you know that ...

Many think that cod is a blue fish. In reality, this fish does not fit into any of the simplistic classifications used in common jargon - which also includes white fish. Once upon a time, in the places of origin, it was considered a poor fish, because the northern populations managed to capture it with the means of small fishing - to produce stockfish and cod. Today, however, cod are fished mainly by using large boats and very sophisticated instruments, which have contributed to making it a non-sustainable fish product.

Cod fillet is a lean and low-calorie food, which lends itself to most nutritional regimens. In addition to the diet of healthy subjects, it is also suitable for nutritional therapy against overweight and some pathological disorders - such as dyslipidemia and primary arterial hypertension.

Compared to most pinnutes, the cod fillet also has the advantage of being practically without bones. This practical advantage is particularly appreciated by those who manage the diet of the little ones, as it greatly reduces cooking times and the possibility that a plug ends up in the mouth of children.

Cod fillet can be cooked in various ways, although most consumers prefer effective, fast and undemanding methods - to which it lends itself perfectly. It is generally sautéed in a pan with a little olive oil, perhaps enriched with cherry tomatoes - or other vegetables - and spices such as oregano and dried chilli. They are very easy to prepare even in the oven, for example au gratin, as shown by our Personal Cooker in the following movie.

Baked Fillets of Cod - Very Easy

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Due to its extreme practicality and culinary adaptability, as well as its nutritional value, the cod fillet is, among the fishery products, perhaps the most sold food in the West. On the other hand, the increase in demand always corresponds to an increase in the response, therefore of the withdrawal and consequently of the exploitation of resources. As we will see in the last paragraph, the fishing of cod - or better, of common cod or northern cod ( G. morhua ; they are also related species G. macrocephalus and G. ogac ) - has reduced the demographic density of this fish so much to make it an endangered species.

Nutritional Properties

Nutritional properties of cod fillet

The cod fillet is a food - more precisely a derivative - which is part of the first fundamental group of foods - foods rich in high biological value proteins, specific vitamins and minerals; it also abounds in biologically active polyunsaturated semi essential fatty acids of the omega 3 group and, theoretically, of iodine.

It has few calories, supplied mainly by protein, followed by very low amounts of fat; carbohydrates are absent. Peptides contain all the essential amino acids in the right proportions and quantities compared to the human protein model. Fatty acids are mainly polyunsaturated essential seeds of the omega 3 group, more precisely eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Did you know that ...

Although cod is considered by most to be a fish with a high omega 3 content, this is only partially true. In fact, while on the one hand the percentage of EPA and DHA on the total lipid is unquestionably high, on the other the general quantity of fat is very low. Any poor fish, especially blue fish, contains more omega 3 than cod - but also more calories from lipids.

The cod fillet does not contain fiber and has a low concentration of cholesterol. Lactose and gluten are also totally absent, as is histamine - which may be found in traces. It is instead a significant source of uric acid and phenylalanine amino acid.

Cod fillet is a good source of water-soluble B vitamins, such as thiamine (B1), niacin (PP), pyridoxine (B6) and cobalamin (B12). The level of the fat-soluble vitamin D (calciferol) is very appreciable. Contains useful amounts of phosphorus, iron, zinc and iodine.

For more details on the chemical content, see the general article: Cod.


Cod fillet in the diet

Cod fillet is a food suitable for most diets.

Medium digestible despite the high concentration of proteins, excessive portions may still be inadequate for those with digestive complications such as dyspepsia, gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastric ulcer or duodenal ulcer.

The cod fillet is considered the food based on "dietetic fish" par excellence, both in the sports field - due to the high protein content - and in the therapeutic field - due to the high percentage content in omega 3 - and in the field slimming - given that nutritional therapies against overweight must be low-calorie and normolipidic. Being very thin, in the nutritional therapy against obesity it can also be cooked with a little oil.

The abundance of high biological value proteins makes the cod fillet ideal in the diet of malnourished, weakened or with an increased need for essential amino acids. This type of food is advisable in the case of very high intensity sports motor activity, especially in strength disciplines or with a very important muscular hypertrophied component, and for all prolonged aerobic disciplines. The cod fillet is also suitable in case of breastfeeding, pathological intestinal malabsorption and in old age - in which the eating disorder and the decreased intestinal absorption tend to create a protein deficit.

EPA and DHA, semi essential but biologically active polyunsaturated omega 3, are very important for:

  • The constitution of cell membranes
  • The development of the nervous system and the eyes - in the fetus and in children
  • Prevention and treatment of some metabolic pathologies - hypertriglyceridemia, arterial hypertension, etc.
  • The maintenance of cognitive functions in old age
  • Reduction of some symptoms of neurosis - depressive - etc.

Due to the absence of gluten and lactose, cod fillet is relevant in the diet for celiac disease and for intolerance to milk sugar. The abundance of purines makes it rather unsuitable - especially in considerable portions - in the nutritional regime for severe hyperuricemia - with gouty attacks - and in the one for calculosis or renal urinary lithiasis. Well preserved it has no contraindication for histamine intolerance. The massive presence of phenylalanine precludes a significant use in the diet against phenylketonuria.

The B vitamins have a mainly coenzymatic function; this is why cod fillet can be considered a good source of nutrients that support the cellular functions of all tissues. Vitamin D, on the other hand, is crucial for bone metabolism and the immune system. Note : we remind you that dietary sources of vitamin D are very rare.

Did you know that ...

Cod liver contains an exponentially higher amount of vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids than cod fillet. In fact, this also applies to the liver of all other fish. Due to its nutritional richness, this organ also produces a derivative - a very useful dietary supplement, cod liver oil. On the other hand, in both cases we are dealing with products that are definitely not commercially available, or characterized by a taste that is not always acceptable.

Iron is a necessary constituent of the heme group, indispensable for the binding of gases in red blood cells - and not only. Phosphorus, which is hardly lacking in diet, is one of the main constituents of bone (hydroxyapatite) and nervous tissue (phospholipids). Zinc constitutes enzymes, nucleic acids and proteins of various kinds. Finally, iodine is necessary for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland - responsible for the regulation of cellular metabolism after the secretion of hormones T3 and T4.

The cod fillet is a safe food with regard to:

  • The infestation of the Anisakis simplex parasite
  • The presence of algal toxins, although this depends above all on the fish species and the fishing area - in the case of cod, no cases of contamination have been recorded
  • Contamination from pollutants such as mercury and methyl mercury, which accumulate most in large fish at the top of the food chain.

The average portion of cod fillet - as a dish - is 100-150 g.


How to cook cod fillet?

The cod fillet can be cooked in many ways. It brilliantly supports all cooking systems and techniques, even if it does not lend itself to long-lasting or too intense ones. Wanting to cook it stewed for example, the times will certainly be much shorter than those of a typical fish soup. It is excellent grilled or sautéed, boiled - either drowned in water or steamed, or vacuum-cooked or cooked in pot-roasting - and fried in vegetable oil.

It is not particularly tasty to irons or in the oven. In mixed cooking instead, for example at acquapazza, in foil, au gratin or in vegetable crust - to preserve the hydration of the meat - it is decidedly more popular among consumers. In soups it has a controversial role; it is generally avoided due to its poor ability to flavor the recipe.

It should also be remembered that cod and stockfish, or cod preserved by salting or drying, show almost opposite organoleptic and taste characteristics - due to the aging of the meat. Both are excellent both in long and weak cooking and - not without astonishment of diners - raw in carpaccio.

The food and wine pairing with the cod fillet depends above all on the specific recipe, but in principle favors light white wines.

Stewed Cod Fillets

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Outline of ecology and ecosustainability of cod fishing

As anticipated, cod is a generic name attributed to many fish - similar to each other - belonging to the Gadidae biological family. We specify, however, that the cod properly called, or the most commercialized, is the common cod or northern cod, of the genus Gadus and morhua species - the most widespread - macrocephalus or ogac .

The cod fillet could therefore be obtained from fish belonging to:

  • Genus Gadus :
    • morhua species
    • macrocephalus species
    • ogac species
  • Genus Merluccius
    • merluccius species
    • productus species
    • hubbsi species
    • specie capensis
  • Genus Pseudophycis species bachus
  • Genus Trisopterus
    • luscus species
    • minutus species
  • Genus Pollachius
    • pollachius species
    • specie virens
  • Genus Theragra Species chalcogramma
  • Genus Aulopus specie filamentosus .

It must be said that, in truth, not all cods are so similar to each other - which is why "cod no longer has the flavor of the past".

On the other hand, the thread trade is based on the scarce collective knowledge of fish products, which is why nothing prevents us from proposing a very dissimilar creature by selling it under the name of cod. Indeed, in a sense it is a big advantage for the ecosystem. In fact, currently the cod species of the Atlantic Ocean are on the verge of extinction; so their replacement with other similar fish is welcome - in the hope that they will not have the same fate.

If we want to fish in an eco-sustainable way, the use of fleets with echoes that are incredibly effective and capable of drawing fish from deep-sea depths should be strongly regulated. Alternatively, sustainable harvest rates should be established, that is, they do not affect the integrity of fish populations.