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Is Fried Chicken Healthy? Nutrition, Benefits, and Side Effects
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Is Fried Chicken Healthy? Nutrition, Benefits, and Side Effects

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 August 30
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5 min

Fried chicken is a popular comfort food around the world. This article covers whether or not it is a healthy food choice.

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Fried chicken is often fatty, salty, and tasty. However, this leads many to wonder more about the nutritional value and if it can be incorporated into their diet. 

When you eat fried chicken, does it do more harm than good to your body? Can it be a part of a healthy diet? 

Let’s talk more about the benefits and drawbacks of consuming chicken that has been cooked in a deep fryer. Read on to learn more!

Is Fried Chicken Healthy?

Fried chicken is not healthy because it is high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, which can all contribute to an increased risk of heart diseases and even weight gain.

Does Fried Chicken Have Health Benefits?

While many interpret fried chicken as completely unhealthy, there are a few benefits.

#1 High in protein

Primarily, fried chicken’s benefit for your health is that it is high in protein. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Data, a serving of 100 grams of fried chicken contains 21.4 grams of protein.

Protein is made from essential amino acids that are the building blocks for the enzymes that facilitate every chemical reaction in the body. 

#2 Lower in saturated fat (compared to red meats)

In general, poultry, including chicken and turkey, is more heart-healthy than red meats, such as beef, pork, and lamb. This is because they are much lower in saturated fat, which can contribute to heart disease.

It is essential to note that frying the chicken does increase the saturated fat content of the chicken. However, as opposed to a food such as chicken-fried steak, fried chicken is the better alternative. 

3 Side Effects of Fried Chicken 

Now, let’s focus on some of the downsides of fried chicken and how it can be detrimental to your health. Keep reading to take a look!

#1 High in sodium

The breading that the fried chicken is coated in is typically very high in sodium. For example, a 100-gram serving contains 536 milligrams of sodium.

For reference, the American Heart Association recommends that you should only consume a maximum amount of 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily. However, less than 1,500 is even more ideal. 

The high sodium content in a 100-gram serving can contribute to elevated blood pressure or hypertension. 

#2 Low in most vitamins and minerals

Unfortunately, fried chicken is not very nutritious and does not have many vitamins and minerals. For example, it only has very small amounts of iron, calcium, and potassium. 

However, chicken that is made from enriched flour in the breading has small amounts of some B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, and thiamine. 

Therefore, if you are consuming chicken that has been deep-fried, make sure to pair it with a variety of fruits and vegetables to get the most nutrition in your meal. 

#3 Lacks any dietary fiber

A downside of fried chicken is that it contains zero grams of dietary fiber. The low fiber content is likely low due to the lack of whole grains in the breading since it is typically made from enriched or refined white flour. 

Fiber is necessary for a healthy digestive system and bowel health. Additionally, it is needed for blood sugar control and can even help lower cholesterol, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Nutritional Facts

From protein, calories, fat, and carbs, let’s discuss more information about the nutrition facts.

Nutritional table (per 100g)

Calories/Nutrient (per 100g)Amount 
Calories (kcal)190
Sodium (mg)536
Net Carbs (g)0
Fiber (g)0
Sugar (g)0
Fats (Total)11.9
Protein (g)24.1
Cholesterol (mg)83

Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2195645/nutrients   

High in protein

Fried chicken is a type of meat, and therefore, it is high in protein. A 100-gram serving contains 21.4 grams.

According to Science Direct, protein promotes the growth and maintenance of muscle, but it also helps regular blood sugars and satiety and promotes the functioning of the metabolism. 

Low in calories

A piece of chicken that is deep-fried is relatively low in calories, with just 190 calories in a 100-gram piece. 

However, consuming more servings than one is easy, especially with portion sizes provided at restaurants or fast food establishments.

Therefore, at 190 calories per 100-gram piece, the calories in your chicken meal can add up quickly. 

High in fats

A review in the journal Archives of Latin American Nutrition in 2013 discussed how deep frying chicken increases the fat content that is already present in the foods. 

Some oil absorbed can be potentially removed with paper towels; however, fried food consumption isn’t recommended. 

While 100 grams contains 11.9 grams of fat, about 3.5 grams of this is from saturated fat. Saturated fat is a type of lipid that can increase the risk of chronic heart issues. Let’s talk about how. 

According to the American Heart Association, saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature and come from animal products and tropical oils. As a result, they can increase cholesterol levels in your blood, which can be harmful to your heart. 

It is recommended that a maximum of 5–6% of your daily caloric intake be from saturated fat sources. So, for example, if you consume a 2,000-calorie diet, then you would consume about 120 calories from saturated fat, which is about 13 grams for the whole day.

Therefore, a 100-gram piece of chicken would already contain about a third of this amount. 

On the other hand, it is free of trans fats, a very dangerous fat for human health. 

Low in carbs

Another benefit of fried chicken is that it is low in carbs. For reference, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Data lists zero carbohydrates. Still, it actually has about one to two grams of carbohydrates per 100-gram serving of chicken.

However, one to two grams of carbohydrates is still relatively insignificant or negligible.

While carbs are the body’s primary energy source, consuming excessive amounts of carbohydrates in the diet can lead to weight gain since the body stores excess carbs as fat. 

High in cholesterol

A 100-gram serving of fried chicken contains 83 milligrams of cholesterol.

While this may not seem like a large number, the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming as little cholesterol as possible. Consuming too much cholesterol can potentially lead to poor heart health.

FAQs

Is fried chicken good or bad for you?

It is bad for you because of the high amounts of saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Instead, opt for a baked or grilled chicken breast to avoid some of the fat content.

Is fried chicken bad for weight loss?

Yes, fried chicken is bad for weight loss because it is high in fat. Excess fat is stored in the body, which can cause you to gain weight.

Does fried chicken make you fat?

While the chicken in itself does not inherently make you fat, consuming high amounts of fried foods, like french fries, for example, can contribute to gaining weight.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Though high in protein, when you eat fried chicken, the drawbacks do greatly outweigh the benefits.

Enjoy your fried chicken in extreme moderation and instead choose a leaner protein option, such as chicken, turkey, or fish that is broiled, roasted, baked, grilled, et cetera.

You can use extra-virgin olive oil instead of tropical oils when cooking at low heat.

Just try to avoid fried food options, especially those that are made from deep-frying.

A trending way of cooking fried chicken that you can use to replace deep-frying is air-frying. Frying chicken in an air-fryer uses less oil but still achieves a similar crispy texture to your favorite fried foods.

Pair your chicken with a plate of veggies, fruits, whole grains, and dairy or non-dairy milk or yogurt substitute for a healthy and balanced diet.

Conclusion

Overall, fried chicken is not a healthy food because it is low in nutrition and very high in sodium, total fat, and saturated fat. It also contains cholesterol.

Consuming too much fried foods, including chicken, can increase the risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Continue to choose chicken that is not fried to reduce your fat intake but still benefit from the protein in chicken.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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