A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Fish facts: Is broiled really more healthy than deep fried?

Deep fried fish on a plate with french fries and lemon wedgesDeep fried or broiled?

This is the one question most Wisconsinites try to answer on an average Friday night.

While it seems obvious that broiled is the healthier choice, many restaurants douse fish in butter or sauce before serving, so is it really healthier?

How you cook fish matters

To get a better sense of how different fish preparations can affect nutritional content, we looked at information published on the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database.

On that site, we found nutritional information for:

  • Raw Atlantic cod
  • Atlantic cod cooked with dry heat (baked or broiled)
  • Fish filet that is breaded or battered and deep fried.

Baked or broiled is the way to go

In that analysis, we found what you might expect.

“When comparing to raw Atlantic cod (which you won’t find at the local supper club), baked or broiled fish is the healthy option,” said Chrisanne Urban, a Marshfield Clinic registered dietitian. “Be careful, though. Every pat of salted butter adds 36 calories, 4 g of fat and 32 mg of sodium.”

Deep fried fish, on the other hand, is the loser in terms of calories; total fat, including saturated fat which is the bad kind; and sodium.

“Almost as important as the preparation is what you choose to go with your fish,” Urban said. “Tarter sauce, coleslaw and french fries or even a baked potato with the wrong toppings can undo your healthy fish choice. You have to take your whole plate into account if you really want to make the healthiest choice.”

So the answer to the question this Friday night is choose baked or broiled, with one caveat. Hold the butter, please.

And if you plan to cook fish at home, try our spicy baked fish recipe.

Fish preparation facts table

Download This Chart


(Full disclosure: While we can’t say for sure that the data for deep fried fish filet is Atlantic cod, it’s still a good comparison).

  1. Aug 6, 2021

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