Modified & Updated: 09 Sep 2023

Fresh raw chicken legs on a cutting board

Chicken, a common inclusion in many diets worldwide, is loved for its versatility, flavor, and nutritional value. Among the various parts, the humble chicken leg often takes a backseat, overshadowed by the ever-popular chicken breast. However, don’t be quick to dismiss this part of the bird. Packed with various nutrients, chicken legs offer several health benefits that might surprise you. Let’s explore 11 chicken leg nutrition facts that will make you rethink this underrated part of the chicken.

Table of Contents

Protein Powerhouse

A standout quality of chicken legs is their high protein content. Protein is a key macronutrient, essential for building and repairing tissues, making enzymes, and supporting immune function. A single, medium-sized, cooked chicken leg provides around 27 grams of protein.

Low in Carbohydrates

If you’re on a low-carb or ketogenic diet, chicken legs can be your best friend. They contain virtually zero carbohydrates, making them a perfect choice for those monitoring their carb intake.

Rich in Vitamins

Chicken legs are a good source of several vitamins, particularly those in the B group. They provide a significant amount of vitamins B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, and B12. These vitamins are crucial for brain health, red blood cell production, and energy metabolism.

Mineral Magic

From zinc and selenium to phosphorus and iron, chicken legs offer an array of essential minerals. Selenium, a powerful antioxidant, helps protect cells from damage, while zinc and iron are vital for immune function and oxygen transport, respectively.

Fats and Cholesterol

Chicken legs, especially with skin, are higher in fat and cholesterol than leaner cuts like chicken breast. However, they primarily contain unsaturated fats, which can be part of a balanced diet when consumed in moderation.

Grilled chicken leg with potato for garnish
Image from Adobe Stock

Calorie Content

The calorie content is an important consideration for those watching their weight. A medium-sized, cooked chicken leg (with skin) has approximately 180-200 calories. Removing the skin can reduce this count.

Impact on Blood Sugar

With zero carbs and high protein content, chicken legs have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels, making them a good choice for people with diabetes or those following a low-glycemic diet.

Skin or No Skin

While the skin adds flavor and crispness, it also contributes additional calories and fat. If you are looking for a healthier choice, consider removing the skin before eating.

Cooking Methods Matter

The way you cook your chicken leg can significantly affect its nutritional value. Grilling, roasting, or steaming are healthier options compared to frying, which can add extra calories and unhealthy fats.

Sodium Alert

Processed or commercially prepared chicken legs can be high in sodium, which can contribute to high blood pressure and other health issues. Always opt for fresh chicken and control your seasoning to keep sodium levels in check.

Balance is Key

While chicken legs have many nutritional benefits, it’s essential to consume them as part of a balanced diet, alongside a variety of other proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Final Word

Chicken legs are more than just a tasty part of the bird. They are nutrient-dense, offering a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and a hefty dose of protein. Whether you’re following a high-protein or low-carb diet, or simply trying to incorporate more nutrient-rich foods into your meals, these 11 chicken leg nutrition facts underscore why this part of the chicken deserves a spot on your plate.