The great debate over White meat and Dark meat

The great debate over white meat and dark meat has been going on for as long as nutritionists can remember. Some people don’t like dark meat, while others extol its virtues and eat nothing else.

But what is the difference between white meat and dark meat?

What is Dark Meat?

  • Dark meats simply have more myoglobin proteins, responsible for giving dark meat its reddish color.
  • The more myoglobin, the darker the meat and the richer the nutrients.
  • Myoglobin provides muscles with the oxygen they need during exercise or movement.
  • Chickens and turkeys (being flightless birds) generally have dark colored drumsticks and thighs because they walk around a lot.

What is White Meat?

  • White meat is made up of muscle fibers designed for fast-twitch and quick bursts of energy.
  • It tends to contain very little myoglobin (which is what makes it lighter) and contain large amounts of protein.
  • Breast and wing meat are white meat.

Dark Meat is NOT All Bad For You

Take a look at the nutrition.

  • Most dark meats tend to contain more zinc, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, vitamins B6 and B12, amino acids, iron than white meat.
  • Dark beef meat contains about 11 times more zinc than tuna, and about 3 times as much iron than raw spinach.
  • Chicken and Turkey dark meat contain vitamins A, K, B6, B12, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, and minerals as selenium, phosphorus and zinc.

It is the higher levels of saturated fat that have given dark meat a bad name.

Calories in Dark Meat vs White Meat


  • Light meat chicken is lower in calories and fat than dark meat chicken, but it is also higher in protein.
  • Dark meat, however is more nutritious in vitamins and minerals and not so saturated in fat.
  • By removing the skin of poultry, the amount total and saturated fat decreases

Any way you slice it, chicken can be good for you so go ahead and add a little dark meat to your plate!

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