Nutritionally, Dark Meat Trumps White Meat

Nutritionally, Dark Meat Trumps White Meat

By Heather Ashare, MPH for

Have you shunned a drumstick at Thanksgiving because of a fear of fat and calories? In our attempts to trim our turkey dinner we may be cutting out some key nutrients.

We looked at the nutritional benefits of both white and dark meat turkey and learned that there’s nothing wrong with fighting over the drumstick after all.

In our side-by-side analysis, we used a 3.5 ounce serving for both white and dark meat turkey, without skin.

  • Calories: White meat = 161 calories. Dark meat = 192 calories.
  • Fat: White meat = 4 grams. Dark meat = 8 grams.
  • Protein: White meat = 30 grams. Dark meat = 28 grams.
  • Iron: White meat = 1.57 mg. Dark meat = 2.4 mg.
  • Zinc: White meat = 2.08 mg. Dark meat = 4.3 mg.
  • Thiamine: White meat = .04 mg. Dark meat = .05 mg.
  • Riboflavin: White meat = .13 mg. Dark meat = .24 mg.
  • Selenium: White meat = 32.10 mcg. Dark meat = 40.90 mcg.
  • Folate: White meat = .01 mcg. Dark meat = 10 mcg.

Dark meat turkey meat offers a richer flavor than white meat, which is often accused of being too dry. People make up for the dryness by adding gravy, which just replaces the fat and calories they would have been eaten in the far more wholesome dark turkey.

In regards to leftover potential, the dark meat’s higher fat content makes it juicier and therefore protects it from drying out in the fridge. If you want a tasty sandwich, salad or soup during Thanksgiving weekend, stick with the dark meat.

It’s clear that dark turkey meat offers more nutritionally than its white counterpart. With more B vitamins like riboflavin, thiamine and folate, and minerals like iron, zinc and selenium, dark turkey’s poor reputation warrants a retraction.

When it comes to calories and fat, the difference between the two meats is negligible, as dark turkey meat has only 30 calories more than white meat and just an additional four fat grams. Stop eating pie one bite before finishing off a slice and you will have balanced out any extra calories you consumed by choosing dark meat over white.


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