Fried vs. Grilled: What’s the Nutritional Difference?

| October 4, 2012

fried chicken, biscuits & gravyWhile you may prefer fried food over grilled, you know that adding oil and batter ups the calories and fat. Learn more about nutritional differences between the two cooking methods in relation to two favorite foods — chicken and catfish — then enjoy them at your favorite restaurant with a full understanding of their benefits and drawbacks.

Fried vs. Grilled Chicken Breast

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database, a chicken breast with skin fried in batter has 590 calories per 226 grams, or 1/2 pound, as well as 29 grams of fat and 20 grams of carbohydrates.

The same size portion of chicken breast with skin grilled on a rotisserie has 417 calories, 18 grams of fat and 0 grams of carbohydrates. Grilling also retains more protein in the chicken than frying.

Grilled chicken breast proves a healthier menu choice at restaurants, but enjoying the occasional fried variety won’t ruin your waistline, especially if you take off the skin to feel a little less guilty.

Fried vs. Grilled Catfish

Using about the same portion size as above, the USDA’s National Nutrient Database calculates that catfish fried in batter has 519 calories, as well as 30 grams of fat and 18 grams of carbohydrates.

Grilled catfish has 238 calories, 6 grams of fat and 0 grams of carbohydrates. Protein remains about the same whether frying or grilling.

Other Factors to Consider

When ordering fried chicken or fish, ask the restaurant server what type of oil the chef uses. Avoid restaurants that fry in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, as it can increase intake of unhealthy trans fats. Canola and other vegetable oils make excellent oils for frying, both in terms of health considerations and smoke points; the higher the temperature you can use an oil before it smokes, the less the fat is absorbed by the foods.

Also, with both grilled chicken and fish, be sure to consider the calories and fat added any marinade used. The healthiest fish grilled in butter sauce is still grilled in high-calorie butter .

Because of modern attitudes toward health and diet, finding restaurants that prepare grilled options and healthy fried options does not prove difficult. You can even search DexKnows by “Natural Foods” and “Special Diets.” Or you can search by “Fried Chicken” and find exactly what you want when in the mood to splurge.

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Category: Food & Dining

About the Author ()

Pamela Mitchell spent more than 15 years at daily newspapers such as the Hartford Courant and Houston Chronicle before becoming a full-time freelancer. She now writes about a variety of topics, from dining and entertainment to pets and travel.