Chicken Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Chicken leg nutrition facts

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Most people assume that chicken is healthy. Chicken is a good source of protein and provides important micronutrients such as selenium and iron. But the nutritional content of chicken depends on how the poultry is prepared and which part of the bird you eat.

Here you'll find nutrition facts for different parts of a chicken, plus information on its health benefits and drawbacks so you can learn how to include healthy chicken recipes in your diet.

Chicken Thigh Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one rotisserie chicken thigh (70g), with the skin removed.

  • Calories: 135
  • Fat: 7.5g
  • Sodium: 234mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 16.9g
  • Selenium: 16.2 mcg
  • Niacin: 3.8mg


Carbs

There are no carbohydrates, fiber, or sugar in chicken thighs.

Fats

A rotisserie chicken thigh without the skin contains 7.5 grams of fat. There are 1.95 grams of saturated fat, 3.3 grams of monounsaturated fat, and 1.1 grams of polyunsaturated fat. If you consume a chicken thigh with the skin, the fat grams will be higher.

Protein

One chicken thigh provides 16.9 grams of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

A chicken thigh is an excellent source of selenium providing 16.2 mcg or 29% of the daily value (DV) and niacin, providing 3.8 mg or 24% of the DV. It is a good source of phosphorus providing 151 mg or 12% DV.

Calories

There are 135 calories in one rotisserie chicken thigh.

Chicken Wing Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one roasted chicken wing with skin (85g).

  • Calories: 216
  • Fat: 14.4g
  • Sodium: 83.3mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 20.2g
  • Selenium: 21.7 mcg
  • Niacin: 5.4mg


Carbs

There are no carbs, fiber, or sugar in a roasted chicken wing.

Fats

There are 14.4 grams of fat in a roasted chicken wing with the skin. Of that, 4.2 grams are saturated fat, 6.6 grams are monounsaturated, and 3.1 grams are polyunsaturated.

Protein

There are 20.2 grams of protein in a single chicken wing.

Vitamins and Minerals

A chicken wing is an excellent source of selenium providing 21.7 mcg or 39% of the daily value (DV) and niacin, providing 5.4 mg or 34% of the DV. It is also an excellent source of vitamin B6 providing 0.5mg or 29% of the DV. It is a good source of phosphorus providing 125 mg or 10% DV.

Calories

One chicken wing with the skin contains 216 calories.

Chicken Drumstick Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one rotisserie chicken drumstick with skin (71g).

  • Calories: 146
  • Fat: 8.2g
  • Sodium: 278mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0.1g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0.1g
  • Protein: 18.2g
  • Selenium: 18.2 mcg
  • Niacin: 4.2mg

Carbs

A roasted chicken drumstick provides almost no carbohydrate, but has just 0.1 gram in the form of sugar.

Fats

There are 8.2 grams of fat in a roasted chicken drumstick with the skin. Of that, 2 grams are saturated fat, 3.4 grams are monounsaturated, and 1.1 grams are polyunsaturated.

Protein

There are 18.2 grams of protein in a single chicken drumstick.

Vitamins and Minerals

A chicken drumstick is an excellent source of selenium providing 18.2 mcg or 33% of the daily value (DV) and niacin, providing 4.2 mg or 26% of the DV.

Calories

One chicken drumstick with the skin contains 216 calories.

 Chicken Leg Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one roasted chicken leg with skin (258g). A chicken leg includes the drumstick, thigh, and back.

  • Calories: 475
  • Fat: 23.2g
  • Sodium: 253mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 61.9g
  • Selenium: 66.3 mcg
  • Niacin: 15.6mg


Carbs

There are no carbs, fiber, or sugar in a roasted chicken leg.

Fats

There are 23.2 grams of fat in a roasted chicken leg with the skin. Of that, 6.3 grams are saturated fat, 9.2 grams are monounsaturated, and 4.8 grams are polyunsaturated.

Protein

There are 61.9 grams of protein in a single chicken leg.

Vitamins and Minerals

A chicken leg is an excellent source of selenium providing 66.3 mcg more than 100% of the daily value (DV) and niacin, providing 15.6 mg or 97.5% of the DV. It is also an excellent source of other vitamins and minerals including vitamin B6, phosphorus, pantothenic acid, iron, and zinc.

Calories

One roasted chicken leg with the skin contains 475 calories.

Health Benefits

High protein foods like chicken can provide a number of health benefits. The minerals in chicken can also support good health.

Supports Healthy Bones

Recent research suggests that a dietary protein works together with calcium to help protect bones. Authors of a research review published in Current Opinion in Lipidology report that the the protein helps to support calcium retention and bone metabolism. They add that previous recommendations to restrict protein to improve bone health is unwarranted.

Helps Promote Muscle Growth

Protein helps your body to build muscle mass when combined with an exercise program that includes strength training program. Protein can also help you to maintain lean muscle mass which can be helpful as you age. A 2016 study published in the journal Biogerontology, found that losses in muscle mass and strength are directly associated with mortality rates in older people.

May Help Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Selenium is a mineral that is found naturally in foods like chicken. Some people also take selenium supplements. Scientists know that it can protect cell membranes from free-radical damage and keep blood platelets from becoming sticky. Both of these conditions increase the risk of heart disease. However, experts are also quick to point out that research has yielded mixed results when the relationship between selenium and cardiovascular disease is studied.

Can Reduce Risk of Thyroid Disease

Your body stores high levels of selenium in the thyroid to help regulate functioning of the gland. If you don't have enough of the mineral, you are at greater risk for autoimmune thyroid conditions including Hashimoto’s disease and Graves’ disease. Researchers have had mixed results when studying selenium supplements, so getting adequate selenium from food is important.

May Support Cognitive Health in Aging

The niacin in chicken may help to support better cognitive health as we age. According to health experts, niacin is believed to protect brain cells from stress and injury. And niacin deficiency has been associated with cognitive decline such as memory loss and dementia. At least one large study, involving 3,718 men and women found that those with the highest intakes of niacin showed a protective benefit against Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline.

Allergies 

Poultry allergies are rare, but possible. According to expert sources, certain people with an egg allergy can have a secondary allergy to poultry. In this kind of allergy, reactions usually happen when coming into contact with raw poultry, rather than consuming cooked poultry.

Adverse Effects

Chicken is not suitable for those on plant-based diets as it is an animal protein.

People with kidney disease should be cautious about consuming too much protein. If you have kidney disease, talk to your doctor about the best protein sources and amounts for you.

Varieties

You can purchase chicken parts that are pre-trimmed, prepackaged, and ready to use. For many cooks, choosing these convenient packs makes cooking healthy meals simpler. The most economical choice is usually buying the whole bird and using all of the chicken parts.

There are different labels used on chicken products. These terms are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

  • Free range:  The USDA requires that these farmers demonstrate that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.
  • Natural: According to the USDA, products labeled as natural must contain no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed.
  • No antibiotics: The phrase "no antibiotics added" may be used if sufficient documentation is provided demonstrating that the poultry was raised without antibiotics.
  • No hormones: This claim cannot be used on the labels of poultry unless it is followed by a statement that says "Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones."
  • Organic: All organic poultry must be fed organic feed, and managed organically. They are also required to have access to the outdoors year-round. Animals may only be temporarily confined due to documented environmental or health considerations.

Storage and Food Safety  

Store poultry in the refrigerator for 1-2 days if refrigerated from the date of purchase. Or store it in the freezer for up to nine months if frozen from the date of purchase.

When you cook chicken, be sure that you cook the poultry to the proper internal temperature for food safety purposes. Most chicken can be baked in the oven at about 375 degrees Fahrenheit until it reaches the appropriate temperature, which according to The Food Safety and Inspection Service is a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Manufacturers recommend that you use a meat thermometer to test the temperature of chicken. You should place the thermometer in a thick part of the meat, making sure that it does not touch bone.

  • A whole roasted chicken should reach an internal temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Drumsticks, thighs, legs, and wings should also reach an internal temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Boneless chicken should reach an internal temperature of 170 degrees Fahrenheit

Be sure to thoroughly clean any surfaces where you prepared raw chicken, including boards and knives. Most experts also recommend that you use plastic cutting boards to prepare chicken because they can be placed in the dishwasher and cleaned at a higher temperature 

How to Prepare 

The way you prepare chicken can significantly change the nutrition facts. Roasting, broiling, or boiling it are generally the healthiest preparation methods. Frying or sautéing the meat in butter or oil will add substantial fat and calories. Breading or coating the chicken in flour and other ingredients will also boost the carbohydrate count.

Adding popular chicken condiments like barbecue sauce, olive oil, or dipping sauces can add flavor and variety to your chicken dishes.

13 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  5. Kerstetter JE, Kenny AM, Insogna KL. Dietary protein and skeletal health: A review of recent human researchCurr Opin Lipidol. 2011;22(1):16-20. doi:10.1097/MOL.0b013e3283419441

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  7. McLeod M, Breen L, Hamilton DL, Philp A. Live strong and prosper: The importance of skeletal muscle strength for healthy ageingBiogerontology. 2016;17(3):497-510. doi:10.1007/s10522-015-9631-7

  8. Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source. Selenium

  9. Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source. Niacin

  10. Hemmer W, Klug C, Swoboda I. Update on the bird-egg syndrome and genuine poultry meat allergy. Allergo J Int. 2016;25:68-75. doi:10.1007/s40629-016-0108-2

  11. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Eating right for chronic kidney disease.

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  13. Food Safety and Inspection Service. Safe Minimum Cooking Temperature Charts.

By Malia Frey
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.