Cod is a truly wild fish and one of the most healthy protein foods that can be included in our diet. A white fish, cod stands out for its content in high biological value proteins, in minerals (iodine, phosphorus, sodium, potassium and iron) and complex B vitamins.
Its fat is concentrated on the liver of the fish, from where cod-liver oil, a source of vitamins A and D, is extracted. Codfish production is free of chemicals and, besides being easy to digest, this fish also helps protect the cardiovascular system and prevent several illnesses.
Codfish: tradition and health in one bite
Catarina Sousa Guerreiro (Dietitian, PhD in Nutrition, Scholar)
For centuries codfish has been part of the dietary patterns of the Portuguese. It is often considered to be the main ingredient in the context of Traditional Portuguese cuisine. The question is: what built this reputation? The answer is simple: a large number of factors.
Let’s start by discussing the versatility of this fish. The number of cod-based recipes is never-ending, and that is due to the fact that codfish, contrary to many other fishes, can be cooked using a variety of confections. This means it can be consumed in a diversified and certainly not monotonous way. One can eat roasted, grilled, fried, boiled, stewed or even raw codfish… All this makes the codfish a great option to include in daily meals, not only during the winter, but also in the summer.
The economical aspect associated with the consumption of codfish must also be taken into account. First of all it is important to discuss preservation: there is no other fish (except canned fish) with such a large shelf life as dry codfish. Moreover, one must consider that this comes without the price tag usually associated with sophisticated preservation processes. Besides that, the fact that it can not only be consumed in steaks, but also flaked or shredded, allows for the cook to entertain the possibility of reducing the portion of codfish used to prepare a particular meal. This means codfish can also be an affordable option.
The nutritional properties of the codfish should also be highlighted. Every time you eat boiled cod steak you are opting for the best possible choice in what concerns an excellent protein intake (26 g of protein per 100 g of fish). It should be noted that the protein codfish contains is of animal origin, and thus considered to be quite nutritive, of high biological value, since it boasts all essential amino acids. Our organism is able to use this protein with remarkable efficiency. While it is true that a codfish meal can provide us a rich protein intake, it is also true that by eating that same meal we are ingesting a very reduced quantity of fat (0,1 g/100 g). This is why cod is considered to be a white, lean fish. It should be noted that this fat content stems from polyunsaturated n3 fats (omega 3), which are scientifically known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Codfish is free from saturated, health threatening fats. Other nutritional properties that are worth mentioning include its vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 content. Whenever one eats a boiled codfish steak, one eats around 25% of the recommended daily intake of such nutrients. These two vitamins play a crucial role in balancing homocysteine levels, which is a key factor when it comes to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Among micronutrients, it is also worth mentioning the selenium content in codfish. By eating just one cod steak about 70% of the daily needs regarding this nutrient are met. Selenium is an important anti-oxidant and therefore also decisive in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Finally, it should also be made explicit that eating codfish does not necessarily mean one is taking in too much salt. The possibility of buying industrially desalted cod or to carefully desalt dry codfish at home allows for an adequate sodium intake.
All these reasons make it is easy to understand that codfish is an evidently interesting ingredient, not only from a gastronomic standpoint, but from an economical and nutritional one as well.
Source: Instituto Nacional de Saúde Dr. Ricardo Jorge, 2010