Which is Healthier: Dark Meat or White Meat?

Learn how to choose the best cuts of poultry for the best nutritional value


What is the difference between white and dark meat—and which is healthier?

Some people like poultry’s white meat, while others like the legs and thighs. But what is the difference between white and dark meat—and which is healthier?

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For one, muscle is present in the dark meat, therefore changing the color to a darker hue. The dark meat of chicken and turkey is full of myoglobin, a substance rich in iron and found in muscle cells. Dark meat is found in the chicken’s legs and thighs, which are rich in myoglobin. The breasts of the chicken, however, are the white meat, and contain little or no myoglobin. Basically, the legs have more muscle so the chicken or turkey can walk, while the breasts have no muscle as it isn’t a “working” part of the chicken.

In addition, dark meat poultry contain more iron, zinc, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamins B6, and B12 than white meat chicken. Many people choose white meat over dark because of its lower caloric content.  But dark meat chicken isn't quite as unhealthy as you may have been led to believe.

So, what’s the bottom line? Dark meat poultry does contain more calories and fat than white meat. However, dark meat packs a greater nutritional punch, and some argue that it carries more flavor as well. So, next time you are faced with the decision, dark or white meat? Ask for a combination of both. This way, you’ll get a higher nutritional value while still watching the calories.

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