The love of chicken does not appear to be diminishing: About half of all chicken eaters say they are cooking more popular poultry since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to a November 2020 survey by the National Council. of Chicken in the US. In fact, retail chicken sales were up 19.5 percent.
But despite the abundance of chicken breasts and specials in the meat section of supermarkets, there is another cut that dietitians prefer you add to your shopping cart. Sure enough, the chicken thighs.
You’re not alone if you’ve been overlooking chicken thighs – the same survey showed that two out of five say the breast is their favorite. We’ve all grown up eating breasts, so when you start cooking with chicken thighs, it feels like a new cut of chicken has suddenly appeared.
What’s good about chicken thighs? Well, the smallest, darkest cut of meat scores significant points for its nutritional makeup; they also cook juicier and tastier than white meat.
Why are chicken thighs so healthy?
Help control portions
Compared to chicken breasts, the thighs are smaller. The typical thigh is also much closer to the recommended serving of protein of 70 to 90 grams than a chicken breast, so choosing a thigh over a breast is a simple way to keep portion sizes smaller and under control.
They contain more zinc
Thighs are packed with zinc, providing nearly 70 percent more of the mineral than chicken breasts.
Zinc is one of the most important minerals in the body, necessary for the activity of more than 300 enzymes in the body, such as those responsible for metabolism, nervous function and immunity, among others.
They are tastier
Anyone loves to cook with thighs for their natural juiciness and flavor. Although they are less lean than breasts, thighs can be cooked in less oil and rely on their own fat to stay moist during the cooking process.
That extra fat also makes chicken thighs a bit easier to cook because you’re less likely to overcook and dry them out.
They satiate more
We like chicken thighs for the extra fat that comes with the dark meat. And they are more filling, even if you eat less meat. That added satisfaction is likely due in part to fat.
Gram for gram, fat contributes the most calories at 9 calories per gram (compared to carbohydrates and protein, which contribute 4 calories per gram). Those extra calories, in theory, should make you feel fuller with less. Additionally, fat is digested more slowly, another possible reason for it to be more satisfying.
Additionally, some types of fats have been shown to increase satiety, reduce hunger, and positively influence some (not all) hunger hormones, according to an April 2009 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Thigh fat is healthy
Look at the real numbers and total fat count in a chicken thigh compared to a breast: a 70 gram cooked thigh has 14.6 grams of fat, while the same size breast contains only 3.5 grams of fat.
Most of the fat in thigh meat is monounsaturated fat, or “good fat.” Still, there are more saturated fats (so-called “bad fats”) in chicken thigh meat compared to white breast meat. But most of the saturated fat is found in the skin of the thighs and breasts, so you just have to remove the skin before cooking.
Chicken thighs are more affordable
Thighs typically have a slightly lower cost per pound, making them a less expensive option to include in your weekday meal rotation.
Checking out some supermarkets, we’ve found that chicken thighs cost half the price per pound compared to breasts. In other stores, they were about 25 percent cheaper.