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  • The family is gathered around the table, the question rings out: white meat or dark? Your

  • soul struggles with the decision, shall you follow Yoda or Palpatine? The YING OR THE


  • Meat eaters of the world are full of opinions on rare versus well done, lamb or mutton,

  • light versus dark. There are so many delicious choices! So when you're carving up a bird,

  • does science even care which meat is which? Why is meat that color in the first place?


  • I'll use the turkey as an example, because it's far easier to see the meaty differences.

  • Turkey breasts are made up of fast-twitch muscle fibers. They're made for short bursts

  • of energy and tire quickly; they become the white meat. The legs, on the other hand, are

  • slow-twitch muscles; they're used all the time, and can work for long periods.

  • When you're eating meat, you're eating these two muscle types. The color of meat is determined

  • by the amount of myoglobin the muscle fibers have in them. You've probably heard of hemoglobin,

  • it's a molecule on red blood cells that helps carry oxygen; myoglobin is the same molecule,

  • it's also known as "muscle hemoglobin."

  • To determine how MUCH myoglobin, you have to consider what the muscles of the animal

  • are doing all day. Slow-twitch muscles that are used all the time need lots of oxygen

  • and therefore have lots of myoglobin. Example: cattle and pigs spend a lot of time standing

  • and walking, so their meat is pink or red -- a rare steak has lots of myoglobin up in

  • there. Chickens and turkeys spend their time standing, and almost NO time flying around.

  • Thus, their legs will be filled with fast-twitch muscles, (YOU SAY ABOVE THAT THEIR LEGS ARE

  • SLOW-TWITCH…) because they're using them a lot. Their breasts and wings, though, kinda

  • weak fast-twitch muscles -- less myoglobin and therefore lighter in color.

  • Now ducks -- ducks fly and swim all the time! So duck breasts and wings and legs are all

  • slow-twitch, dark muscles. Speaking of swimming, fish meat would be considered "darker" around

  • the tail or fins -- because those move the most. Ocean fish like tuna swim ALL the time,

  • so they're much darker than say, a catfish which slinks around slowly. Humans have a

  • mix of the two depending if they're say, sprinters (fast-twitch) or distance runners (slow-twitch).

  • I don't know why that would be helpful. I dunno... you know... you get really hungry.

  • When you cook a fast-twitch muscle its myoglobin changes color depending on the temperature.

  • As it undergoes a chemical change, the myoglobin can no longer hold oxygen, and the iron atoms

  • at the center of the protein's structure loses an electron. That chemical change forms a

  • hemichrome -- for the brown of medium cooked meat, and as heat rises more it becomes metmyoglobin

  • which is a brownish-grey. White meat doesn't have the myoglobin concentration to color

  • the meat, so it looks more translucent, and as it cooks, the muscle fibers, which are

  • normally bound up in tight coils, uncoil -- or denature; the water leaks out and the meat

  • becomes an opaque white.

  • Because of the way the muscles are used, they're going to taste different when cooked. The

  • white meat is thinner, less dense, and is more tender -- so it can be cooked more quickly.

  • The denser, darker meats take longer -- which is why white meat tends to come out more dry

  • at Thanksgiving. It's difficult! But when you fry a meat, the juice is held inside -- so

  • fried chicken breasts are still deeeelectible!

  • When it comes to which is BETTER that's up to you. A study in the European Journal of

  • Nutrition said taurine, found in dark poultry meat, could lower coronary heart disease in

  • some women.

  • All in all, white meat is lower in saturated fat but slathering gravy on the white to combat

  • its dry texturekind of scraps the benefits. Dark meat is higher in saturated fats, but

  • contains a lot more vitamins as well as iron, zinc and other minerals!

  • So which do you prefer, white meat or dark?

The family is gathered around the table, the question rings out: white meat or dark? Your

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B1 meat myoglobin muscle dark slow darker

The Science Of Dark vs. White Meat

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    稲葉白兎 posted on 2015/05/22
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