In culinary terms, white meat is meat which is pale in color before and after cooking. A common example of white meat is the lighter-colored meat of poultry (light meat), coming from the breast, as contrasted with dark meat from the legs. Poultry white ("light") meat is made up of fast-twitch muscle fibres, while red ("dark") meat is made up of muscles with fibres that are slow-twitch. In traditional gastronomy, white meat also includes rabbit, the flesh of milk-fed young mammals (in particular veal and lamb), and pork.
In nutritional studies however, white meat includes poultry and fish, but excludes all mammal flesh, which is considered red meat. The United States Department of Agriculture classifies meats as red if the myoglobin level is higher than 65%.[dubious ] This categorization is controversial[weasel words] as some types of fish, such as tuna, are red when raw and turn white when cooked; similarly, certain types of poultry that are sometimes grouped as white meat are actually red when raw, such as duck and goose.
Within poultry, there are two types of meats—white and dark. The different colours are based on the different locations and uses of the muscles. White meat can be found within the breast of a chicken or turkey. Dark muscles are fit to develop endurance or long-term use, and contain more myoglobin than white muscles, allowing the muscle to use oxygen more efficiently for aerobic respiration. White meat contains large amounts of protein.
Dark meat contains 2.64 times more saturated fat than white meat, per gram of protein. One commentator wrote that dark meat contains more vitamins, while a New York Times columnist has stated the two meats are nearly identical in nutritional value, especially when compared with typical red meat. For ground-based birds like chicken and turkeys, dark meats occur in the legs, which are used to support the weight of the animals while they move. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 28 grams (1 oz) of boneless, skinless turkey breast contains about one gram of fat, compared with roughly two grams of fat for 28 g (1 oz) of boneless, skinless thigh. The numbers go up when the skin is kept in: a chicken thigh, with skin intact, has 13 grams of total fat and 3.5 grams of saturated fat per 85 g (3 oz) serving; this is about 20 percent of the recommended maximum daily intake. Birds which use their chest muscles for sustained flight (such as geese and ducks) have dark meat throughout their bodies.
Because of nutritional concerns, it can be preferable for meat producers to have their products considered white meat. The United States National Pork Board has marketed their product as "Pork. The Other White Meat".
The health effects that correlate with white meat consumption have been studied as compared to red meat and vegetarian diets. There is a decreased incidence of stroke. There is no association with obesity or insulin resistance. White meat appears to have a neutral or favorable effect on blood coagulation profiles. There is additional evidence that myoglobin promotes carcinogenesis in colorectal models and therefore epidemiologic evidence supports reduced prevalence of colon cancer in those who consume white meat as opposed to red meat.
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