Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), which was started in 1952 by Colonel Harland Sanders, prides itself upon being the world’s most popular chicken restaurant chain. With locations in over 100 countries and territories, KFC has prepared numerous family meals with their infamous chicken buckets, and it is not unusual to see a KFC chicken bucket turn up at a party or company potluck.
Until 2011, when KFC launched its new grilled chicken menu, KFC’s chicken items were primarily fried and therefore not considered very healthy, especially with the ongoing obesity crisis and consumers being advised to stay away from fried foods. KFC claims its new grilled chicken items, which were developed for its health-conscious customers, contain fewer calories, along with less fat and sodium, then its Original Recipe chicken.
However, are KFC’s grilled chicken items really much healthier than its fried chicken items? Let’s take a look…
Keep in mind the following intake recommendations from the American Heart Association when reviewing KFC’s nutrition information:
- Total fat: limit total fat intake to 30% or less of total calories (for a 2,000 calorie diet, this would be 60 grams of fat per day)
- Saturated fat: limit saturated fat to less than 10% of total calories (for a 2,000 calorie diet, this would be 20 grams of saturated fat per day)
- Sodium: limit to less than 2,400 mg/day
- Cholesterol: limit to less than 300 mg/day
A KFC Original Recipe Chicken Breast, which is one of KFC’s most popular items, contains 360 calories, 21 grams of total fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 1080 mg of sodium, and 110 mg of cholesterol. An Extra Crispy Chicken Breast contains 510 calories, 33 grams of total fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 1010 mg of sodium, and 110 mg of cholesterol. A Spicy Crispy Chicken Breast contains 420 calories, 25 grams of total fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 1250 mg of sodium, and 110 mg of cholesterol. How does a Grilled Chicken Breast fare? It contains 220 calories, 7 grams of total fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 730 mg of sodium, and 135 mg of cholesterol – definitely a better choice than previously mentioned items.
How about KFC’s new Chicken Littles, which according to KFC contains 100 percent breast meat? One serving (with sauce) has 320 calories, 19 grams of total fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 610 mg of sodium, and 35 mg of cholesterol. However, leaving the sauce off decreases the calories to 230, the total fat to only 8 grams, the saturated fat to 1 gram, and the sodium to 540 grams. Will one of these Chicken Littles fill you up though? Remember to increase the nutrition information if you have more than one.
And what about those tasty dipping sauces? The Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce Cup is definitely the healthier choice, despite its 10 grams of sugar per serving.
KFC is also known for its Mashed Potatoes with Gravy. Even though this signature side dish is low in calories (120), total fat (4 grams), and saturated fat (1 gram), one serving still contains 530 mg of sodium. Make this healthier by leaving off the gravy, and the sodium goes down to 320 mg. Unfortunately, the Macaroni and Cheese, Potato Wedges, and BBQ Baked Beans, and many of KFC’s other sides dishes are even higher in calories, total fat, saturated fat, and sodium. For a much healthier alternative, try the Corn on the Cob or the Sweet Kernel Corn.