Is white meat better for you than dark meat?

When you’re sitting down for family dinner, everyone is expected to eat the same foods. As the plates and bowls are passed around, your choices are to partake or not. That is, besides when it comes to chicken. For chicken, you have your pick of white meat or dark meat. While some people may choose one or the other based on flavor preferences, some may choose based on the health benefits of each. ,


Read on to learn about the differences between white meat and dark meat, and the benefits of each.


What causes the color change?

White meat refers to the lighter meat of chicken, which is the breasts and the wings (1).  The difference in color is due to the amount of myoglobin in the different parts of the chicken. Myoglobin gives oxygen to muscles, so areas with more myoglobin are the muscles that are used more regularly. For a chicken, their legs are what they use to walk around. So, chicken legs and thighs are darker meat. Then, the muscles they use less often, like their breasts and wings, are lighter, or white, meat.


What are the health benefits of white and dark meat?

Most people have probably heard that white meat is healthier, but why is that common thought? And is it true? Well, white meat is healthier in a few ways. For one, white meat is lower calorie than dark meat, so it is a better choice for someone that is cautious about their caloric intake. It is also higher in protein, which is helpful for those trying to get more of it in their diet. White meat is also lower in fat, and slightly lower in cholesterol, too (2). Plus, white meat has more B vitamins than dark meat. Where does dark meat get the upper hand? Dark meat is higher in zinc, iron, and vitamin C than white meat.


So, why would someone choose dark meat over white meat?

Years ago, the media seemed to villainize fat, specifically saturated fat. Now, that is not as much the case, and the need for healthy fats is seen. So, when you break down the health benefits of white vs dark meat, you can find a good reason to eat both types. Most importantly, though, the taste of white vs dark is different. White meat has a more mild taste and can be a bit bland when not properly seasoned. Dark meat has a more juicy, flavorful taste. Typically, people prefer the taste of dark meat, since it has more of a full taste. A good way to ensure you are getting all of the health benefits of chicken is to have a bit of both white and dark meat when you are filling your plate. Chicken is a lean source of protein, so you should enjoy every part of it. Even though the skin of the chicken is a bit fattier, you don’t need to stray away from putting some on your plate. Each part of the chicken has health benefits worth enjoying.

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