By: Amanda Li, Registered Dietician
Chicken breasts have long been considered the healthiest part of the bird, but are they really that much more superior compared to its darker counterpart?
To answer this question, let’s take a look at the pros and cons between these two cuts of poultry.
Nutritionally-speaking, chicken thighs are higher in calories and fat compared to chicken breast. However, unless you’re on a seriously restricted diet or are consuming larger than normal portions of chicken, the extra 20 calories in the thigh are negligible. And while the fat difference between the two pieces are significant (17% of the calories coming from fat the breast, 40% for the thigh), chicken thigh is still considered a lean cut of meat. If you are already consuming too much saturated fats from other food sources such as pastries or cheeses, then chicken breast may be a better option. For those who are looking to increase their intake of iron such as infants and toddlers, chicken thighs do provide twice the amount of iron compared to the breast.
Fat: 3 g
Protein: 30 g
Iron: 0.45 mg
Fat: 8 g
Protein: 25 g
Iron: 1.13 mg
Flavour-wise, chicken thighs do taste better than breasts. Simple reason, is that thighs have more fat and fat carries flavour. As a registered dietitian who teaches food skills, I often recommend chicken thighs for clients who are new to cooking and on their journey to building kitchen confidence. Chicken thighs are very forgiving even when overcooked due to its higher fat content and are oh-so versatile! Delicious in stir-fries, curries, stews, soups or simply-roasted. For example, try this Spanish-inspired Chicken Paella recipe!
In terms of economics, chicken thighs are usually cheaper since they are considered a dark meat option. Recently though, supermarket prices for thighs now cost almost as much as breasts. One tip when purchasing chicken is to carefully read labels and ensure your chicken products say “air chilled.” In this way you are not paying for the extra water weight absorbed during the wet chilling process.
Bottom-line, both chicken breast and thighs can be part of a healthy diet and provides a good source of high-quality protein and iron!
Until next time, relish every bite.
*Based on 3.5oz Serving of Roasted, Skinless & Boneless Chicken. Values obtained from Canadian Nutrient File.