White Meat vs. Dark Meat

Chicken breasts are a quick seller here, extremely quick. We often find that as our chicken breast section begins to dwindle, our sections devoted to dark meat such as drumsticks and thighs are overfilling! Among the health food circles, comments are often made that “all Americans eat is beef, pork, and chicken breasts”, it certainly is true. How is it that Americans became so fascinated with the white meat of poultry, forgetting the rest of it?

In my opinion, we can certainly eliminate taste as a factor. I remember always being perplexed as a child with the adults obsession with the chicken breasts. I remember the only way I could enjoy chicken breasts was to soak it in the marinade long enough to moisten it up, eliminating the dry texture associated with white meat. Dark meat was another story entirely. It had a smooth, moist texture, and was much more flavorful (not to mention the fact that drumsticks have a very convenient handle). How is it that we’ve forgotten the wonderful taste of dark meat? The same reason for a host of other problems in the food system, a fear of fat.

In the 1950’s heart disease came out as the leading cause of death in the United States. From that emergence scientists and medical professionals tried to answer the question to why that is and amidst the ideas was a link between heart disease and cholesterol.  Shortly afterwords a theory arose saying that animal fats increased our cholesterol. This theory began to spread and soon the United States government got a hold of it and urged Americans to reduce their fat intake for the sake of their health. Without taking into consideration thousands of years of human history showing how important fat intake is, officials began encouraging the American consumer to eat “low-fat” or “non-fat”. Soon the food industry began producing man-made fats such as margarine and vegetable oils and it seemed the American consumer was convinced that fats were bad for us!

We must know that fat is indispensable to our health as human beings. Our bodies need fats to function.  Children especially need good fats for brain development.  It is just a matter of eating the right ones at the right quantities. We must also know that there are a lot of unknowns in regards to cholesterol and the health effects of the different types of fats. Cholesterol is one of the large mysteries of modern day medicine. While it is true that cholesterol is a marker for heart disease.  Is it a precursor or does a high cholesterol count come about once heart disease is setting in?  HDL-cholesterol is an anti-inflammatory.  So could it be that HDL-cholesterol is actually present to help correct the inflammation brought on by the excessive consumption of sugars and grains?

It is true that white meat has about one gram less fat per ounce, and four less calories per ounce on average compared to dark meat. Even so, after all of these years of “low fat” and “non fat” we as Americans are heavier than ever and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that we are any happier. It seams that the die-hard avoidance of fats many practice has not improved our overall health at all. In addition, dark meat contains many more nutritional supplements than white meat, including increased amounts of iron, zinc, and various B vitamins. I’m not suggesting we only consume dark meat, that would be an inefficient use of the animal. I’m just stating it would be foolish to forget some of the most tasteful, fulfilling cuts of the chicken (not to mention the convenient handle of the drumstick!).

by Conner Smith

Thanks to Josh Fowler for his article “Why you should eat fat”.