Chicken is one of the best protein sources and is among the favorites of fitness conscious people. However, there is a constant debate about the best type of chicken to enjoy maximum health benefits. Many people think that you should avoid chicken thighs because they have skin and dark meat. They always promote the consumption of chicken breasts, mainly because it is composed of white meat. Should you really be watching what part of chicken you are eating? A comparison of chicken breast vs. thigh will help you make a better decision. Let's discuss more about it.
Chicken Breast vs. Thigh: Which One Should You Choose?
Chicken breast refers to the meat that comes from the breast, whereas the upper part of a chicken's leg is referred to as chicken thighs. It means that if you buy a whole chicken, you will have enough breast meat for a separate dish but you are going to have two thighs only.
It is worth mentioning that white meat is considered a healthier option because it is not used as much by the animal while alive. In case of chicken, breast is considered white meat but thighs are tagged as dark meat. When comparing chicken breast vs. thigh, you will find that chicken thighs have more calories, less protein and more fat as compared to chicken breast.
Since chicken breast is considered healthy, it also costs you more. You usually face no trouble buying either of these, and it is equally easy to cook both of them.
Protein is essential for cell growth, immune function, and muscle building. Women should have 46g of protein a day and men should consume 56g of protein a day. Animal meat is always a good source of protein – this is true for poultry, beef, fish, and other derivatives. You also get a good amount of protein from chicken breasts and thighs. However, you get 21g of protein from a 3-ounce serving of roasted chicken thigh, whereas the same serving of roasted chicken breasts provides you with 25g of protein.
Both chicken breast and thigh are free of carbs, which is why they are a perfect addition to your low-carb diet. You do get some carbs when you marinate the chicken in a sweet liquid, such as honey, barbecue sauce, or maple syrup. The same thing is true when you opt for sweet toppings. Anything sweet will contain carbs, unless it is sugar-free.
You should be going for chicken breasts if you are interested in keeping your fat intake low. Chicken thighs contain more fat, as a 3-ounce serving of chicken thighs provides you with 13g of total fat and 3 1/2g of saturated fat, which is 20% of the recommended daily intake of total fat and 18% of saturated fat. While the same serving of roasted chicken breast contains only 7g of fat with no more than 2g of saturated fat. You get about 10% of your recommended daily value of total fat and 9% of saturated fat from chicken breast.
Just like protein, animal meat also contains cholesterol. You increase your risk of heart disease by increasing your intake of saturated fat and cholesterol. Thankfully, there is moderate cholesterol in chicken thighs and breasts. A 3-ounce serving of chicken breast provides you with 70mg of cholesterol, whereas the same serving of chicken thigh has about 80mg of cholesterol. Ideally, you should limit your daily cholesterol intake under 200mg.
There is a moderate difference between chicken breast and thigh in terms of calories. You get about 170 calories from a 3-ounce serving of chicken breasts, whereas the same serving size of thighs provides you with 210 calories. The number of calories you get from both will increase depending on how you cook them and what sort of topping or sauce you use.
Found in many foods, sodium is essential for overall health. However, you should not consume more than 2,300mg of sodium a day. A 3-ounce serving of chicken thighs provides you with 70mg of sodium, and you get 60mg of sodium from the same serving of chicken breasts. Keep in mind that you should lower your intake of sodium if you have high blood pressure, as it promotes water retention in the body.
Iron helps produce myoglobin and hemoglobin, which help transport oxygen to different parts of the body. There is not a huge difference between the amount of iron found in chicken breasts and thighs. A 3-ounce serving of chicken breasts provides you with 4% of your recommended daily intake of iron, whereas the same serving of chicken thighs provides you with 6% of your recommended daily intake of iron.
Is It Okay to Include Dark Meat in Your Diet?
It is true that dark meat is going to be tastier, mainly because of its higher fat content. However, you need to understand that dark meat contains higher fat, calories, and saturated fat. You get about 142 calories, .9g of saturated fat, and 3g of fat from a 3-ouce serving of chicken breast without the skin. However, the same serving of a skinless chicken thigh provides you with 170 calories along with 9g of fat and 3g of saturated fat.
While the difference may look small, you need to understand that these nutrition numbers are only for a 3-ounce serving and you will be consuming a lot more in the real world. These numbers add up and put you at an increased risk of heart disease and other health problems.
Pay Attention to Safety
A comparison of chicken breast vs. thigh helps you identify the better option, but whatever you choose be sure to handle poultry properly. It is important to clean your hands before you handle raw poultry. Wash your hands again after you have finished. It is better to use separate cutting boards and utensils to prepare raw poultry, and do not use the same utensils for cooked food. Moreover, you should ensure that you cook until the internal temperature is up to 165F.