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White Meat vs. Dark Meat…Which is Healthier?
Since the Nutrition Nazis went on their “all FAT is bad!” campaign, launched a few decades ago, Dark Meat has been regulated to “non-healthy” status, but is that fair? Is it accurate? Is it firmly based on Nutrition Science?
I am asking you to take a fair, open and honest look at the facts on the nutrition status of White Meat vs. Dark Meat controversy.
The anti-fat fascists will make emotional demands that you eliminate all fats. There is no Nutrition Scientist or Registered Dietician that I know of, who would ever suggest such a thing. Those knowledgeable in nutrition will attest to the fact that the human body cannot perform adequately, remain healthy or function properly for extended periods of time without consumption of all macro nutrients, including fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Essential fatty acids must be consumed in the diet to keep your body functioning normally.
Question: What is the REAL difference in fat content between White and Dark Meat?
Answer: Dark meat definitely contains more fat. See the breakdown of fat below:
A 3.5-ounce serving of the two:
White Meat Dark Meat
Total Fat 4.5 Grams 9.7 Grams
Saturated Fat 1.2 Grams 2.7 Grams
The current Dietary Guidelines recommend you limit your intake of saturated fat to less than 10% of your total caloric intake. If you are on a 2,000 Calorie/day diet, that translates to 200 calories or 22 grams of saturated fat/day. Though there is conflicting research on saturated fat, there remains a great number of medical and health experts who believe high intake of saturated fat leads to hypercholesterolemia, afflicting 27.8% of the American Population and heart disease, the number one killer, world-wide. White Meat is lower in both total fat and saturated fat so White Meats wins Round One,
But wait! A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, revealed that taurine, naturally contained in the dark meat of poultry, shellfish and some fish may actually protect women with hypocholesteremia from developing Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). Researchers linked a higher taurine intake to a 60% lower risk of developing or dying from heart disease among women with high cholesterol levels. The same protective benefits of taurine was not observed in women with low cholesterol levels. Therefore, in people with high cholesterol at least, Round Two goes to Dark Meat.
If increasing your protein is a goal, then the protein content of a 3.5 ounce portion:
White Meat Dark Meat
Protein 31 Grams 27 Grams
Round 3 goes to White Meat!
While both White and Dark Meat have substantial phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and niacin, White Meat wins Rounds 4 & 5 due to higher niacin and magnesium content.
If you are keeping score, White Meat won Rounds 1,3,4 & 5 and Dark Meat has only won Round 2, so White Meat is ahead four Rounds to one. But wait! Here is the secret to why Dark Meat is dark. Dark Meat is Type I, Slow-Twitch- Aerobic Fiber and utilizes the hemoglobin in you and myoglobin in birds to transport oxygen to your cells. This makes these Type I muscle fibers darker in color and provides great endurance, so the Dark Meat wins all the rest of the rounds due to having significantly higher content of:
Vitamins: A, K, B-6, B-12. Thiamin, Folic Acid, Pantothenic Acid and Riboflavin
Minerals: Iron, Zinc, Selenium
And finally, Dark Meat wins by knock out when you analyze the super nutrient “Taurine” mentioned above. Taurine has been shown to have a great many benefits including: anti-inflammatory properties, reducing High Blood Pressure, protecting and healing nerves, increasing bile production to emulsify fats, up to 80% reduction in Heart Disease, improved mortality rate, improved longevity and reduction in Diabetes with improved insulin sensitivity!
I would also like to re-address the issues of the “Fat Debate.” If you consider how to buy and prepare your chicken, turkey, duck, goose, etc., and you select Free Range, Organic, Drug and Hormone free birds, you will now be consuming far, FAR healthier fats! Fats that are high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids and far, fewer toxic elements. If you grill, bake or broil your Dark Meat, it will drastically reduce the higher fat content of Fried Chicken and be a far healthier preparation mode!
I highly recommend our IFPA Sports Nutrition Certification Course for you to gain greater and deeper understanding of how and what to eat for you, your family, your loved ones, as well as all your personal training clients to live a longer, healthier and happier life!
I and all of us at the IFPA, hope you all enjoy the Holiday Season and we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!
Dr. Jim Bell
CEO of the IFPA