After a week in Portugal, I feel as if I ate my weight in codfish. It is on every menu at least once but usually more.
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The Portuguese love affair with cod began in the sixteenth century when Portugal was leading the way in ocean exploration. And even though Portuguese cod fishing ended in the 1970s, the taste for cod lives on.
Once home I wanted to nutritionally explore what I had been eating. Like most fish, cod is a lean source of protein. A 4-ounce serving of raw codfish provides 100 calories and 23 grams of protein. The total fat is less than 1 gram. Even before Portugal, I frequently used cod in recipes because its mild taste is perfect for a variety of seasonings. Moreover, it is a great fish for people who do not love strong tasting fish.
The nutrient cod does not provide much of is omega 3 fatty acids. Four ounces of codfish has 228 mg of omega 3 fatty acids. Compare that to salmon where a 4-ounce portion has 2,944 mg of omega 3 fatty acids.
In Portugal, I complemented my codfish with sardines, big sardines. Four ounces of sardines can have over 1,400 mg of omega 3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings a week of fatty fish. This includes salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and albacore tuna. And for a third serving, I recommend codfish.
All the omega 3 fatty acids in codfish are in the liver, which is not part of the fillet. Cod liver oil was an important part of a young child’s diet before milk was fortified with vitamin A and D. A daily dose helped prevent rickets and a type of blindness.
And cod liver oil might still be something to consider. One teaspoon has 890 mg of omega 3 fatty acids. That same teaspoon also has 90 percent of recommended vitamin A and 113 percent of vitamin D. And it does not taste as bad as you’ve heard.