Health & Hygiene

Canned Cod Liver: Foie Gras For The Frugal Man

The World Health Organization states that a healthy diet includes 400 grams of fruits and vegetables per day. They also place strict restrictions on sugar intake, so most of those 400 grams are coming from vegetables rather than sugar-rich fruits.

In American terms that’s 2-3 boxes of salad greens. In volumetric terms that’s more than 6 inches by 8 inches by 5 inches of straight cruciferous vegetables every day for your entire adult life. Equivalent to 1.039 gallons of spinach, kale, chard, green leaf lettuce, and similar.

I am not a doctor but I’m going to go ahead and dubunk the WHO anyway. My stomach cannot fit that much vegetable matter. And even if it could, I cannot survive on 105 calories per day. Like most Americans I need my nutrient-dense foods to be, well, dense. A salad or expensive green-colored shake is not good enough.

Icelandic Canned Cod Liver Taste And Texture

Thus my quest for cost-effective and realistic nutrient-dense food brought me to canned cod liver. It’s packed in little flat tins just like sardines, and has an impressive portfolio of nutrients.

Icelandic Canned Cod Liver on Baguette
Icelandic Canned Cod Liver on Baguette with Kroger Cheddar

I struggle to come up with a description of canned cod liver that sounds as good as it tastes. It really is sort of like foie gras but not as rich and a tiny bit fishy. But not super fishy. Less fishy than tuna fish.

The texture is firm enough to eat whole but smooth and soft enough to spread.

Some people have had bad experiences with cod liver oil or other types of fish oils. I’d like to point out that Icelandic canned cod liver is nothing like old style fermented cod liver oil or Thai fish sauce. It’s mild. I’ve had olive oil that’s stronger than this stuff.

Where To Buy Canned Cod Liver

I have never seen canned cod liver for sale in any store around me. I just buy it on Amazon. You can buy just a few to try it out, or buy in bulk and save.

iCan Icelandic Canned Cod Liver Nutrition

People say that Americans often have surprisingly poor nutrition. I know that I’ve analyzed the labels on countless food products and have been repeatedly disappointed. Icelandic canned cod liver is a major exception.

Canned Cod Liver Nutrition Facts
Canned Cod Liver Nutrition Facts

Here are some micro-nutrients of interest:

  • Vitamin A 450% — Real vitamin A in the form of retinol, not beta carotene!
  • Vitamin D 420% — In its natural form, D3.
  • Not on label: B vitamins, copper, iron, choline, omega 3 essential fatty acids

Essential Fatty Acids: Omega 3 In Canned Cod Liver

Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, come in several different forms. The most important are the omega 3 and omega 6 forms. The human body expects to get omega 3 and omega 6 in approximately equal amounts. But when you eat something like a Red Baron Deep Dish Singles Pizza, you’re getting a load of omega 6 and pretty much zero omega 3.

Cod liver and it’s oil are rich in omega 3 EFAs. A great way to help balance your diet!

Vitamin A In Canned Cod Liver (Don’t Eat It Every Day!)

Vitamin A is essential for eye health, but it doesn’t stop there. Cod liver contains a potent form of vitamin A called retinol. Retinol is especially beneficial for your endocrine system.

Be careful: Retinol is so powerful that it’s possible to overdose on it. With 450% of your recommended daily intake, icelandic canned cod liver is a strong source of vitamin A but shouldn’t be eaten every day.

Retinol is classified as an fat-soluble vitamin. This means that the body can store a lot of it, but cannot quickly git rid of any excess. Too much retinol, especially when taken over a long period of time, causes a dangerous condition called Hypervitaminosis A. For this reason, I try not to eat more than one or two cans of cod liver per week.

Icelandic canned cod liver is low in heavy metals and other pollutants

Oceanic fish are subject to all kinds of dangerous pollutants. Depending on their eating habits, different fish species may accumulate different amounts of toxic chemicals. Fortunately, a 2009 study found that cod liver and cod liver oil is safe to eat.

How to eat canned cod liver

  • Smear it on crackers.
  • Put it on a baguette with some store brand cheddar cheese.
  • Mix some into ground beef (good for picky kids).
  • Some people drink the oil straight. I am not one of those people.
  • Spread some on a cheeseburger. Delicious.
  • Dice it and throw some on top of your scrambled eggs.

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