Is Dark or White Meat Better?

Every Thanksgiving the ever important question springs to mind, “should I have white meat, dark meat, or both?” Inevitably one of your distant cousins is a fresh nutrition major and yells, “Dark meat is bad for you!!”. And every year you listen to him or her, but do you actually know the difference between white and dark meat? And whose to say that dark meat is the evil brother of white meat? Let’s break them both down in this short-but-simple article.


White Meat

We all have been told that white meat is the better choice, but is it? And if so, why? Well, the answer really depends on what your fitness and dietary goals are. Once you know your goals, only then can you fairly judge one meat from the next. Nutritionally speaking, white meat is the meat with less calories and less fat.

  • 3 ounces of white turkey meat will get you around 115 calories, with 0 grams of saturated fat.

Not bad right? It’s not bad at all! However, what if you want to gain weight? What if you are looking to put on some muscle? Don’t worry, dark meat will get it’s chance.

According to (a website that I would highly recommend to MealFit customers due to its amazing in depth food analyzing … Or am I just being nerdy right now?), white turkey meat has other benefits including low sodium, a good source of Vitamin B6, as well as a good source of Phosphorus, Niacin, and Selenium. Adding to the fact that white turkey meat rates a 3.2 on the Fullness Factor, so a little goes a long way!


Vector cuts of chicken, turkey, duck and goose diagrams
Vector cuts of chicken, turkey, duck and goose diagrams

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Dark Meat

Always seeming to be white meat’s evil little brother, dark meat does have it’s stay in this fight. What does dark meat have going for it? Higher calories. That’s right. If you’re looking to gain weight, dark meat is going to be your best friend.

  • 3 ounces of dark meat boasts 160 calories compared to its lighter counterpart at only 115 calories.

The protein stays roughly the same, however dark meat has a bit more. What’s important to know about dark meat is this extra benefit: Iron. Dark meat presents 11% more iron per serving than white meat, and that may seem obvious to the nutritionist, but why is that so? Dark meat gets in name from the presence of blood vessels in the meat. So, more blood in the meat equals more iron present. Iron is essential in the human body for all types of circulatory functions. Also, dark meat has a fat to protein ratio of 35% to 65%, so you’re getting more fats from dark meat. Dark meat also contains more zinc, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, vitamins B6 and B12, amino acids, and iron than white meat. Dark meats also contain more omega-3 and omega-6 fats.


The Winner?


The winner is the one you choose that matches most closely with your goals. If you’re a mother or father of 4 trying to watch their figure or maintain their figure, white meat is the way to go. However, if you’re trying to gain weight, put on some muscle mass, or are a growing teenager, dark meat is your best option. Either way, any turkey meat is good turkey meat!

QUESTION: How are you and your family going to cook your turkey this year?
Leave answers in the comments below.

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