Are Chicken Wings Healthy? The Answer May Surprise You

Chicken wings on a white background with celery for the post are chicken wings healthy by The Healthy RD

Are chicken wings healthy? Contrary to popular belief, chicken wings can be one of the healthiest parts of the chicken.

They certainly can be a healthy choice if you prepare them well and choose chicken wings that don’t have additives and preservatives. And for sure, you should make an effort to buy pasture-raised chickens when possible. 

Let’s dig a little deeper into the pros and cons of eating chicken wings. 

Are Chicken Wings Healthy? 

In a nutshell, yes. If they are fresh wings and pasture-raised, yes, chicken wings are definitely healthy. They absolutely can fit into a healthy diet. 

And contrary to many websites, I recommend keeping the skin on when you cook them and eat them.  

This is because chicken skin contains healthy compounds like collagen, amino acids, fat-soluble vitamins, and healthy fats to keep your body more resilient. 

Collagen from chicken wings is healthy

Collagen from foods like chicken help support joint health, skin health, gut health, immunity, and more. 

Research shows that collagen, found in high amounts in chicken skin, can be good for cardiovascular health too.  Surprisingly collagen even helps to decrease harmful cholesterol levels while also decreasing blood pressure levels according to research. 

Bone-in chicken wings will have more collagen and vitamins than boneless chicken wings as well. 

Collagen from chicken skin may even help people reduce body fat and promote muscle growth too. 

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Chicken wings have healthy fats

While chicken fat from chicken skin does indeed have a small amount of saturated fat, research now indicates that saturated fat isn’t the bad guy we once thought.  

A review of over 20 research studies did not find a link between saturated fat and the risk of heart disease or stroke. According to a recent Nutrients Journal review of research, recommendations to limit saturated fat are “based on insufficient and inconsistent evidence.”

Common misconceptions also make chicken wings out to be high in saturated fat, and they are not. 

For example, did you know that a chicken wing has less saturated fat than a tablespoon of olive oil? A tablespoon of olive oil has 2 grams of saturated fat while 3 chicken wings have 1.5 grams of saturated fat.

And you get 19 grams of protein in 3 chicken wings to boot. Healthy chicken wings are high in protein for healthy muscle growth, healthy immune function, and more. 

Chicken wings also are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats as well, with 2.6 grams of fat per 3 wings. While they don’t have as many monounsaturated fats as olive oil, they definitely have a healthy fat ratio. 

Chicken wings contain healthy omega-3 fats

Unlike olive oil, pasture-raised chicken wings have a good amount of omega-3 fats, which is a good thing. 

Properly-raised pastured chicken can have up to 10 times more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional chicken.  This means that it can be as high as salmon in some cases.  And omega-3 fats are very good for the heart, the brain, the gut, and more.

So chicken wings can be quite good for you. 

But don’t kid yourself.  Frying the chicken changes the game in terms of chicken wing health benefits. I recommend avoiding deep-fried chicken wings and deep-fried anything, for that matter. 

And, how the chickens are raised really dictates how healthy they are.  For more information, check out Mother Earth News.  

Chicken wings are rich in vitamins and minerals

Naturally-raised chicken wings can be very healthy chicken.  In fact, they are a great source of healthy fats, protein, amino acids, and B vitamins like vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and niacin.  They also contain vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, zinc, iron, and more.  And chicken wings contain over a third of your daily needs for selenium and zinc too. They also contain a good amount of potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iodine, chromium, and copper. 

Chicken wings that come from pasture-raised chickens are more nutritious than conventional chicken wings too. 

For example, pasture-raised chicken wings contain more vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin D, and healthy omega-3 fatty acids than their conventional counterparts. 

Most of these nutrients in pasture-raised wings are at least twice as high in pasture-raised chicken than in conventional wings.  And the omega-3 fats are an impressive 10 times more in pasture wings than conventional wings according to The Ethical Farming Fund

If you don’t have access to pasture-raised chickens, the next best thing is the following chicken certifications: 

Chicken wings are low in calories

Contrary to common belief, chicken wings aren’t fattening, unless they are fried and served with a bunch of unhealthy sides.  

With only around 80 calories per wing (drummette and wing) they certainly can fit into any low-calorie meal plan. 

Not only are they low in calories, but they also are very satisfying because of their healthy fats and protein, so they help curb your appetite too. 

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Other Health Benefits of Chicken Wings

Eating a moderate amount of chicken wings in your diet is a nutritious way to help your body heal and stay healthy.  

Some examples of how they may help your health:

  • Protein and collagen in chicken wings help you heal your injuries
  • Rich in minerals and vitamins, they may help prevent and treat anemia
  • Due to their high nutrient content, they help support a healthy immune system
  • The amino acids and vitamins in chicken wings support healthy brain function
  • Nutrients in chicken wings, such as zinc and selenium, support healthy reproductive organs
  • Pasture-raised chicken has antioxidants that reduce free radicals in the body
  • When eaten as part of a carb-controlled diet, chicken wings can be helpful for managing diabetes and inflammatory conditions
  • Whole chicken wings have most nutrients needed to help heal joints and may reduce joint pain

All told, chicken wings are definitely a healthy choice if prepared well. 

What is the Healthiest Way to Cook Chicken Wings?

When it comes to chicken wings, healthy cooking methods matter.  While fried chicken wings are very tasty, try to avoid deep-fat frying them.  

I recommend using an air fryer or baking them instead. Baked chicken wings or grilled chicken wings can be just as crispy and delicious as fried wings too. 

When you eat chicken wings, try to avoid toppings with extra additives or chemicals.  For example, you can make your own buffalo wing sauce and blue cheese dressing with avocado mayo instead of buying ones that are full of unhealthy fats and preservatives. 

Are Hot Wings Healthy?

They certainly can be if you use a healthy recipe like Baked Buffalo Wings by Dinner at the Zoo. For a great Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Wings recipe, visit Air Frying Foodie.  

If you need a low-sodium chicken wing, simply follow the video Low Sodium Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings recipe and add some cayenne pepper to the seasonings to spice it up. 

Buying Chicken Wings in the Healthiest Way

To find a healthy chicken wing brand, I recommend avoiding frozen brands that are pre-seasoned or heat-and-serve chicken wings.  These types of chicken meat have unwanted fats, preservatives, and ingredients that aren’t great for health. 

In addition, if you can get pasture-raised chicken, all the better.  Grassland Beef, Marble Creek Farmstead, and Grassroots Coop are sources where you can find pasture-raised chicken online.  Or, even better, find a local rancher who sells pasture-raised chicken meat. 

Disadvantages of Chicken Wings

The main disadvantage of eating chicken wings is that there is less meat on each bite than chicken thighs, chicken drums, or chicken breasts. 

So it takes a bit longer to eat them.  Then again, this could be an advantage because you eat more slowly and therefore are less likely to overeat. 

They can be high in sodium

If you need to watch your salt intake, you should avoid packaged and pre-prepared chicken wings.  You should also avoid restaurant chicken wings.  That said, you can easily make low-sodium chicken wings at home. 

Chicken wings are bad if breaded or fried

As stated previously, the health of the chicken wings depends on how they are made and the quality of the chicken they come from. 

For best health, you should avoid breaded or fried chicken wings especially if they are packaged or heat-and-serve varieties. Fried foods are linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, inflammatory diseases, and more. 

Summary of Why Chicken Wings Are Healthy

When it comes to wings, health benefits include that they are full of vitamins, minerals, healthy protein, collagen, healthy fats, and more. So, contrary to popular opinion, chicken wings aren’t bad for you at all if made well. 

If you are wondering if chicken wings are healthy for you and your diet, you can rest assured that well-prepared wings, baked or air-fried, can be healthy chicken.  In other words, myths that they are unhealthy stem from the fact that many are prepared in an unhealthy way. 

In fact, they can be healthier than other cuts of meat because they have healthy fats that fill you up and help you eat overall calories according to research. So they work great on many meal plans for weight management and reducing inflammation.  

These include autoimmune protocols, Paleo meal plans, ketogenic diets, and more. And, the carbs in chicken wings with skin are zero, so they can be a healthy food addition to the diet for people with diabetes too.  

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