The Health Differences between White Meat and Dark Meat
Resources > Home Health > The Health Differences between White Meat and Dark Meat

Are you a Smart Kitchen™ Chef?

Try it FREE or take a TOUR to explore Smart Kitchen!
+ -
Nutrition

In the 1960’s, it was discovered that 100 g (3.5 oz) of boneless, skinless White Chicken Meat was 15% higher in Protein (23 g to 20 g), slightly lower in Calories (114 to 125), and a bit lower in Fat (0.44 g to 1.1 g) than Dark Chicken Meat. All meat (except for innards) has the same amount of cholesterol per gram. The fact that Dark Meat has more Iron and Niacin was ignored. 

Armed with this news, the big poultry processors raised the prices on White Meat and trumpeted the health benefits of White Meat versus Dark Meat. As White Meat began to be sold at higher margins, profits rose.  At the same time, the already low sales of Dark Meat plummeted.

Having engineered a change in taste through their advertising, in the 1970s poultry producers began altering the ratio of White Meat to Dark Meat with selective breeding programs. When the breeding programs began, breast meat accounted for 36% of the total weight of the bird. Modern chickens yield closer to 40% breast meat by weight. Breasts that on average once weighed in at 8 oz. (227 g) now average 10.5 oz (298 g).

In Poultry, most of the fat and cholesterol in either Dark Meat or White Meat is contained in the skin or in the subcutaneous layers just under the skin. Going skinless is the healthiest way (if not the tastiest) to eat either White Meat or Dark Meat.

In other animals, it is the surrounding Fat and Marbling (Fat interspersed in the meat) that is more of an issue than the actual meat itself. There are a number of Lean Beef Cuts which have nutrition comparable to Poultry. Selecting leaner cuts and/or relentlessly trimming your cuts is the most healthful way to eat Dark Meat from other livestock.