Foodstruct
Advanced Nutrition Search | Diet Analysis | Glycemic index chart | Insulin index chart

Chicken meat vs Pork - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

Compare
Chicken meat
vs
Pork

Introduction

Pork and chicken are two of the most commonly consumed meats in the world. The choice of pork or chicken often comes up when ordering a meal or planning dinner. In this article, we will talk about what sets these meats apart and what they have in common, with the main focus on health and nutrition.

Classification

Pork is classified as a red meat, due to its high content of myoglobin. Chicken, on the other hand, is poultry and is classified as a white meat.

According to the USDA, chickens can be classified in four groups: Cornish game hen, broiler-fryer, roaster and capon (1). The two main differentiating factors between these groups are the chicken’s age and weight.

Appearance

Based on the classification, one of the defining differences of these meats becomes apparent. Chicken meat is usually light pink, while pork is darker in colour.

Pork meat has recognizable marbling: visible white wavy lines of intramuscular fat. Chicken meat sometimes also has intramuscular fat called white striping, however, it is less apparent and less common.

Taste and Use

The taste of pork can differ based on its cut. In general, it is described to be fatty and salty. Chicken is described to have a more tender and soft texture.

Chicken and pork can be used in similar ways in the kitchen. Both of these meats can be grilled, broiled, baked, braised and much more.

Bans and Religion

While chicken consumption is not prohibited by any major religious laws, pork intake is a different case.

Pork meat is not a kosher food, meaning its consumption is forbidden according to orthodox Jewish dietary laws. Similarly, it is also prohibited by Islamic dietary laws.

Types of Meat

Both pork and chicken meat can be produced as processed or fresh meat. Processed meat is defined as meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing, salting, or the addition of chemical preservatives (2).

Based on the cut of pork, there are different varieties of pork. The four primal cuts of pork are the shoulder (the butt and the picnic), the leg or ham, the loin and the belly or side.

The chicken meat is mainly divided in three parts: the breast, the leg and the wing. The breast meat is the most commonly used part of the chicken and it is also the lightest in colour.

Each type of meat, based on the cut and production method, has slightly varying nutritional and biological properties.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Nutrition

For this article, we are looking at the nutritional values of whole, broiled pork loin and roasted broiler-fryer chicken with skin.

Macronutrients and Calories

Pork and chicken have very similar macronutrient compositions. However, pork is a little more dense in nutrients containing 58% water, while chicken consists of 60% water.

One average serving size of pork weighs 85g. Chicken’s serving size is much larger - 140g or one cup of diced chicken.

Calories

Chicken and pork are both high calorie foods, containing nearly the same amount of calories. A hundred gram serving of pork contains 242 calories, whilst chicken has 239.

Protein and Fats

Pork and chicken are similar in these macronutrients as well.

Both of these meats contain 27g of protein per a 100g serving. Both are also very rich in all essential amino acids. Pork contains slightly higher levels of all those amino acids, except for isoleucine and methionine.

Pork is also slightly higher in fats. However, chicken contains larger amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, while pork is richer in monounsaturated and saturated fats.

Pork is lower in cholesterol.

Carbohydrates

Like most meats, both chicken and pork contain no notable amount of carbohydrates.

Vitamins

Overall, pork is a little richer in vitamins, containing more of vitamin B1, vitamin B12, vitamins B2 and B6 and vitamin E. Pork also contains vitamin C and vitamin D, which chicken is absent in.

Chicken, on the other hand, is richer in vitamin A, vitamin B3 and vitamin B5. One vitamin found in chicken which pork completely lacks is vitamin K.

Pork and chicken contain the same amount of the folate form of vitamin B9. 

Minerals

Pork is the clear winner in this category, being higher in potassium, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, magnesium, selenium, copper and choline. Pork also contains less sodium.

However, chicken is richer in iron and manganese.

Glycemic Index

Based on the fact that pork and chicken contain almost no carbohydrates, the glycemic index of these foods is considered to be 0.

Acidity

The normal pH value for fresh chicken meat falls in the range of 5.3 to 6.5, making chicken a slightly acidic food (3).

Normal pork also has an acidic pH value of 5.6 to 5.7. Pork meat with a higher pH value, may be dark, firm and dry (4).

Another way of evaluating the acidity of foods is the potential renal acid load or PRAL. The PRAL values demonstrate how much acid or base the food produces inside the organism.

The PRAL values for pork and chicken are 12.6 and 14.6 respectively. The higher this number, the more acidic the food is.

Weight Loss & Diets

Chicken and pork are both high calorie foods, however, pork is slightly higher in calories.

Containing no carbohydrates, these meats fit well in both low carb and low glycemic index diets.

Despite the high calorie count, pork and chicken may have potential use in weight loss diets, as the high protein and fat content leads to high satiety and energy expenditure.

There is some evidence, however limited, showing pork intake to have a positive impact on waist circumference (5).

Regular consumption of lean fresh pork has also been studied to relatively reduce weight, body mass index, waist circumference, percentage of body fat, fat mass and abdominal fat (6).

Among children, a higher meat consumption, including pork and chicken, has been associated with lower levels of body mass index, as well as systolic and diastolic blood pressures (7).

Poultry meat intake, along with vegetables, has been correlated with a reduced risk of developing obesity and obesity related diseases (8).

While fresh pork and chicken may have beneficial effects in a balanced diet, processed meats can have a negative impact on metabolism (9).

Health Impact

Opinions about the health benefits of meat consumption are often contrary. In this section, we will look into scientifically founded information about the health impact of chicken and pork intake.

Health Benefits

Cardiovascular Health

Regular intake of fresh lean pork can improve body composition, without negatively affecting risk factors for cardiometabolic disease (6).

Poultry, such as chicken, may not have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health, but the National Heart Foundation of Australia concluded that there is not enough strong evidence for recommending a limit on the intake level (10).

Diabetes

Substitution of red meat with poultry, such as chicken, decreases the risk of developing type 2 and gestational diabetes, also improving glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors (11).

The limited evidence about pork intake and diabetes has suggested a possible negative impact of processed pork on glucose and insulin metabolism and a possible positive impact of pork intake on waist circumference and high density cholesterol, also known as “good” cholesterol (12).

Chicken may serve as a source of protein for patients with type 2 diabetes and renal dysfunction (13).

Cancer

In one study increased white meat intake and equally decreased red meat intake has been correlated with significantly reduced risk of cancer of the esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, anus, lung and pleura. This inverse association may be largely due to the substitution of red meat (14).

Downsides and Risks

Overall, various studies have demonstrated red and processed meat intake to be correlated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and all-cause mortality (15).

Cardiovascular Health

Substituting red meats with high quality plant foods, such as legumes,  nuts or soy, as well as whole grains or dairy, might potentially reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (16).

Red meat intake has been studied to increase low density lipoprotein levels, also known as “bad” cholesterol, in the blood (2). 

The dietary heme iron, found in red meat has also been associated with cardiovascular diseases, such as myocardial infarction and fatal coronary heart disease, potentially due to the additional oxidative stress (16).

A study has concluded that higher intake of processed meat, unprocessed red meat and poultry is significantly associated with a small increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Higher consumption of processed meat, unprocessed red meat, but not poultry is associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality (17).

Diabetes

A study has found red meats, but not poultry, intake to be positively associated with increased diabetes risk (18).

In contrast to the previous statement, another research has concluded that both red meat and poultry consumption were associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes (19)

The cooking method also plays a role in the increased risk of diabetes due to meat consumption. High-heat cooking of meats, such as grilling and barbecuing has a bigger negative impact on health, when compared to moderate-temperature cooking, such as stir-frying, boiling, steaming or sauteing (20).

Cancer

Both red and processed meats have been studied to have undesirable effects relating to oncological conditions. Red meat consumption has been associated with an increased risk of colorectal, nasopharyngeal, lung and pancreas, as well as breast and prostate cancer (21, 22). In addition to those, processed meat might also increase the risk of esophageal (squamous cell carcinoma) and stomach cancer (non-cardia) (21).

There are potential positive associations with poultry intake and the risk of prostate cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (22).

Summary

In summary, pork and chicken have similar macronutrient compositions, however, pork is slightly higher in calories, protein and fats. Pork is also overall richer in vitamins and minerals, containing larger amounts of vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamins B1, B2 and B12, calcium potassium, phosphorus and zinc. On the other hand, chicken is richer in vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamins B3 and B5 and iron.

Even though pork may be nutritionally superior, pork is a red meat, while chicken is white. Due to this, pork tends to have a bigger negative impact on health, compared to chicken.

Sources.

  1. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2011/11/17/poultry-classifications-get-21st-century-upgrade
  2. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.035225
  3. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1755-1315/102/1/012051/pdf
  4. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/swine/facts/info_qs_meatph.htm
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3792009/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407990/
  7. https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12937-017-0252-7
  8. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322959346
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3792009/
  10. https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/getmedia/d0671d24-16aa-4dff-8555-0c07e61c11ee/Evidence_Check_Review_Meat_and_CVD_FINAL_2019.pdf
  11. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322959346
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3792009
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11919119/
  14. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/43/2/265
  15. https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4141
  16. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2759737
  17. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-020-05091-x
  18. https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/186/7/824/3848997
  19. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2018/03/23/how-meat-is-cooked-may-affect-risk-of-type-2-diabetes/
  20. https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/exposures/meat-fish-dairy
  21. https://jech.bmj.com/content/73/Suppl_1/A15.1
Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Profession: Yerevan State Medical University
Last updated: February 4, 2021

Infographic

Chicken meat vs Pork infographic
Copy infographic link

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Contains more Iron +44.8%
Contains more Calcium +26.7%
Contains more Potassium +89.7%
Contains more Magnesium +21.7%
Contains more Copper +10.6%
Contains more Zinc +23.2%
Contains more Phosphorus +35.2%
Contains less Sodium -24.4%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 48% 5% 20% 17% 22% 53% 78% 11%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 33% 6% 38% 20% 25% 66% 106% 9%
Contains more Iron +44.8%
Contains more Calcium +26.7%
Contains more Potassium +89.7%
Contains more Magnesium +21.7%
Contains more Copper +10.6%
Contains more Zinc +23.2%
Contains more Phosphorus +35.2%
Contains less Sodium -24.4%

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
7
Pork
Contains more Vitamin A +2200%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +68.5%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +47.6%
Contains more Vitamin K +∞%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin D +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +1292.1%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +91.1%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +16%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +133.3%
Equal in Vitamin E - 0.29
Equal in Folate - 5
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 0% 10% 6% 0% 16% 39% 160% 62% 93% 38% 6% 4%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 2% 1% 6% 39% 220% 75% 95% 42% 108% 88% 0% 4%
Contains more Vitamin A +2200%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +68.5%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +47.6%
Contains more Vitamin K +∞%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin D +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +1292.1%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +91.1%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +16%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +133.3%
Equal in Vitamin E - 0.29
Equal in Folate - 5

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
36
Chicken meat
56
Pork
Mineral Summary Score
31
Chicken meat
37
Pork

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
164%
Chicken meat
164%
Pork
Carbohydrates
0%
Chicken meat
0%
Pork
Fats
63%
Chicken meat
64%
Pork

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Chicken meat Pork
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in Sugar Equal
Lower in glycemic index Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Chicken meat Pork
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet Equal
Low glycemic index diet Equal

People also compare

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Pork
Pork is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 8mg)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Pork
Pork contains less Sodium (difference - 20mg)
Which food is cheaper?
Pork
Pork is cheaper (difference - $0.2)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Pork
Pork is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Chicken meat
Chicken meat is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 1.44g)
Which food contains less Sugar?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Sugar (0 g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (0)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Chicken meat Pork Opinion
Calories 239 242 Pork
Protein 27.3 27.32 Pork
Fats 13.6 13.92 Pork
Vitamin C 0 0.6 Pork
Net carbs 0 0
Carbs 0 0
Cholesterol 88 80 Pork
Vitamin D 2 53 Pork
Iron 1.26 0.87 Chicken meat
Calcium 15 19 Pork
Potassium 223 423 Pork
Magnesium 23 28 Pork
Sugar 0 0
Fiber 0 0
Copper 0.066 0.073 Pork
Zinc 1.94 2.39 Pork
Starch
Phosphorus 182 246 Pork
Sodium 82 62 Pork
Vitamin A 161 7 Chicken meat
Vitamin E 0.27 0.29 Pork
Vitamin D 0 1.3 Pork
Vitamin B1 0.063 0.877 Pork
Vitamin B2 0.168 0.321 Pork
Vitamin B3 8.487 5.037 Chicken meat
Vitamin B5 1.03 0.698 Chicken meat
Vitamin B6 0.4 0.464 Pork
Vitamin B12 0.3 0.7 Pork
Vitamin K 2.4 0 Chicken meat
Folate 5 5
Trans Fat
Saturated Fat 3.79 5.23 Chicken meat
Monounsaturated Fat 5.34 6.19 Pork
Polyunsaturated fat 2.97 1.2 Chicken meat
Tryptophan 0.305 0.338 Pork
Threonine 1.128 1.234 Pork
Isoleucine 1.362 1.26 Chicken meat
Leucine 1.986 2.177 Pork
Lysine 2.223 2.446 Pork
Methionine 0.726 0.712 Chicken meat
Phenylalanine 1.061 1.086 Pork
Valine 1.325 1.473 Pork
Histidine 0.802 1.067 Pork
Fructose

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Chicken meat - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171450/nutrients
  2. Pork - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167820/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.