I've heard that fried chicken has only slightly more fat than roasted chicken. Can that be true?
Ounce for ounce, that might be true -- depending on what your definition of "slightly" is. But as usual, the answer is a bit more complicated than you might think. Let's take a look at the numbers and start there.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Nutrient Database (http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/cgi-bin/nut_search.pl), 100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces, of roasted chicken meat contains 190 calories and 7.4 grams of fat. The same amount of battered fried chicken meat contains 219 calories and 9.1 grams of fat.
That additional fat might not seem like much. However, that's if you eat just the meat. If you eat the skin, too, you've got a different story. In that case, 100 grams of roasted chicken contains 239 calories and 13.6 grams of fat. The same amount of fried chicken contains 289 calories and 17.4 grams of fat. (Now you know why weight-loss programs counsel participants to eat skinless chicken.)
Still, there's another complication to take into account. When you batter and fry chicken, you add weight to each piece of chicken normally consumed. To take this into account, the USDA's Nutrient Database averages the weights of "units," or pieces, from one-pound ready-to-cook chickens, and then compares the fat and calories for each unit. The results may surprise you.
The average unit of meat from roasted chicken weighs in at 146 grams, contains 277 calories and 10.8 grams of fat. The average unit of meat from fried chicken weighs 155 grams, contains 339 calories and 14.1 grams of fat. Are those differences still "slight" in your mind?
Now let's compare those numbers for chicken with skin. The average unit of meat with skin from roasted chicken weighs 178 grams, contains 335 calories and 19 grams of fat. But here's the kicker: The average unit of battered, fried chicken with skin weighs 280 grams, contains 809 calories and 48.6 grams of fat. That kind of difference is hard to overlook. The bottom line: The battered skin on fried chicken skin adds quite a bit of weight to the piece of chicken, and could add quite a bit of weight to your hips as well.
Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1044, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor: This column was reviewed by Sharron Coplin, registered dietitian and Ohio State University Extension nutrition associate in the College of Human Ecology.