Due large in part to maligned 90’s health recommendations, it was heavily suggested that people switch from eating dark meat to a healthier white cut of meat.
In the case of chicken this change was decided to eat chicken breast (white meat) instead of chicken thighs (dark meat). Chicken thighs often have skin and are thought to be a less healthy option in comparison to chicken breasts.
Truth be told, apart from coming from two different areas of the chicken, the thigh and breast meat don’t differ much in terms of nutritional composition.
Chicken Thighs vs Chicken Breast: Macro Nutrient Profiles
All forms of animal meat are high in protein. This list includes poultry, beef, and fish. Both chicken breast and thighs are lean meats containing large amounts of protein.
A 3 oz portion of chicken thighs contains 21g of protein. A 3 oz portion of chicken breast contains 25g of protein.
Your protein intake will vary based on your lifestyle and activity levels. The suggested levels of protein to be consumed in women is 46g a day and 56g in men.
Protein is essential for bodily functions like cell repair and muscle growth.
Both chicken breast and thighs are lean meats and contain no carbohydrates. If you’re someone who is restricting carb intake then both cuts work really well.
Keep in mind, if you were to marinate the chicken or use a dipping sauce you would end up consuming added carbs.
The fat content of chicken breast tends to be lower than that of thighs. A 3 oz portion of chicken breast contains 7g of fat and 2g of saturated fat. Chicken thighs are a bit higher and contain 13g of fat and 3.5g of saturated fat.
Keep in mind that both chicken breast and thighs can come skinless. By simply removing the skin or buying skinless options you can lower the overall fat content.
No matter the animal meat you eat, it will contain some cholesterol. By consuming large amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats you increase the risk of plaque buildup which results in heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily cholesterol intake to 300 mg for the average healthy person and 200 mg for people with coronary heart disease.
3 oz of chicken breast contains 70 mg of cholesterol where-as chicken thighs contain 80 mg of cholesterol.
To reiterate, chicken breast and thighs are both lean meats and contain moderate calories. A 3 oz portion of chicken breast contains 170 calories where-as 3 oz of chicken thighs contains 210 calories.
Just like we noted above in the carbohydrate section, adding extra marinate or using a sauce will add calories.
This mineral is found naturally in many foods. Both chicken breast and thighs contain similar amounts of this electrolyte.
A 3 oz portion of chicken breast contains 60 mg of sodium. A 3 oz portion of chicken thighs contains 70 mg of sodium. The daily recommended sodium intake level is 2,300 mg for average healthy people. For people with high blood pressure, 1,5000 mg is recommended.
Sodium ensures healthy fluid balance and muscle contraction. However, higher levels of sodium can result in water retention which causes your blood-pressure to increase.
Iron is a mineral that helps in the production of hemoglobin and myoglobin which help transport oxygen through-out the body.
3 oz of chicken breast contains 4% of the daily recommended value. 3 oz of chicken thighs contain 6% of the daily recommended value.
People sometimes overlook the micronutrient content of chicken thighs and breast. Both of these parts contain an ample amount of micronutrients:
- 30% niacin
- 15% phosphorus
- Vitamin B-6
- 10% riboflavin
- 6% zinc
- 6& riboflavin
- 60% niacin
- 25% vitamin B-6
- 20% phosphorus
To end the discussion, just eat the entire chicken. Each part of a chicken has its own micronutrient content and flavor. If you are a person that is calorie-conscious, then you can remove the skin before eating any part of the chicken, as most calories came from the chicken’s skin, not from its meat.