Is Fish Healthier Than Chicken?


In general, fish is considered a healthier option than chicken due to its high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids which are seen as healthy fats in contrast to the dangerous saturated fats in meat.

Fish nutrient profile


Fish is a high-quality protein that is low in fat. Protein is required for the growth and repair of bodily tissues and is crucial for children’s muscles and bones. Protein derived from animals includes all the necessary amino acids required for an adult diet. A vast majority of the protein in the body is found in muscle, with smaller amounts found in blood and skin. Animal proteins have a better biological value than plant proteins because the amino acid pattern in animal cells is comparable to that of human cells.1

Most individuals require around 0.75kg of protein per kg of body weight each day: for the average man it is 55g: for the average woman, it is 45g. Examples of high-protein fish include:

  • Pollack has 17.4g of protein per 100g
  • Cod has 17.5g of protein per 100g
  • Prawns have 17.6g of protein per 100g


White-fleshed fish, for instance, has the lowest fat content of any animal protein source, and oily fish are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are recognized as beneficial fats, as opposed to the harmful saturated fats found in meat. Omega-3 fatty acids are a kind of lipid present in very small amounts in most plants and animals but are rich in fish and seafood.2 Tuna, sardines, and salmon are among the fish having the greatest omega-3 fatty acid concentration. Early studies of Greenlandic aboriginal communities, whose diet was nearly entirely composed of omega-3-rich fish and shellfish, indicated extraordinarily low rates of chronic inflammatory disorders such as psoriasis.3 Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for brain and heart function and have been found to lessen inflammation and cardiovascular diseases. The American Heart Association endorses eating fish at least twice a week, ideally fatty fish high in omega-3s.


Carbohydrates are not found in fish. Oysters, mussels, and scallops, for example, contain a large number of calories as carbs.

Vitamins and minerals

Fish contains a lot of vitamin D and B2. Fish contains calcium, phosphorus, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. 

Healthiest types of fish

Fish are classified into three types: oily fish, white fish, and shellfish. Oily fish provides a high concentration of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which may prevent heart disease, and are a rich source of vitamin D.4 White fish is low in fat, making it one of the healthier, lower-fat alternatives to red or processed meat, which is higher in fat, particularly saturated fat. Shellfish have a low-fat content.4 Salmon, tuna, and sardines are the healthiest fish to consume. 

Risks of fish (Microplastics, Mercury)

There are certain hazards to eating fish regularly. Contaminants like mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) make their way into ocean water through our home and industrial waste, where they end up in the fish that reside there. Following mercury consumption, neurological and behavioural problems may occur. Tremors, sleeplessness, neuromuscular effects, migraines, and cognitive and motor impairment are among the symptoms.5 Pollutant levels in oily fish are often greater than in other forms of seafood. As a result, there are recommendations for the number of portions that certain groups should consume each week. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid some types of fish and restrict their consumption of others. This is due to the high amounts of mercury and toxins found in some seafood.4

Chicken Nutrient Profile  


Chicken is higher in protein and lower in fat than red meat, making it a dietetic food. One of the most popular high-protein meals is chicken. The breast is the thinnest region of the body. Another advantage of chicken meat is that it has low collagen levels. Chicken flesh is simpler to digest than other forms of meat because collagen is a structural component that affects meat digestion.6 Protein consumption may improve sensations of fullness, boost weight reduction, and help preserve lean body mass, according to research.


Because chicken with skin contains 2-3 times more fat than chicken without skin, it should be consumed without skin to guarantee adequate protein intake without adding unnecessary calories and fat.6 When compared to red meat, the primary benefit of white chicken meat is its low caloric value and low portion of saturated fat; therefore, consumption of white chicken meat is intended for people who want to reduce their fat intake, as well as for people who suffer from heart and coronary diseases.6


Chicken, like fish, has no carbs.

Vitamins and minerals

It includes more calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and salt than red meat. Chicken is also high in B vitamins such as niacin, B6, and B12, which are essential for energy generation, brain function, and DNA synthesis.7

Healthiest cuts of chicken 

Chicken breasts are a better choice. They have few calories, a lot of protein, few fats and saturated fats, and a lot of healthy cholesterol.

Risks of chicken

Some forms of chicken are processed. According to research, eating processed meat may increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Processed meats may also be heavy in salt and preservatives.Furthermore, several preservatives found in processed meats, such as nitrates, have been linked to the development of carcinogenic chemicals.7

Chicken can be a healthy option, however, raw chicken is frequently infected with Salmonella. You can get food poisoning if you consume raw chicken. Consuming chicken products tainted with dangerous bacteria causes illness in nearly 1 million people annually. According to a 2017 research, chicken was responsible for the second-highest number of hospitalizations and outbreaks.8

Is chicken or fish healthier?

The advantages of fish tend to be greater than those of chicken, particularly when it comes to the omega-3 level, even though they are both excellent sources of protein and add to your nutritious profile.


Fish and chicken are both considered proteins. Oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and have the lowest fat content of any animal protein source compared to white-fleshed fish. White chicken flesh, however, has less saturated fats. Fish and chicken both lack carbs. Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin B are all present in both proteins. Chicken breast is the healthiest cut since it has the highest protein per weight. Generally speaking, sardines, tuna, and salmon are the healthiest fish to eat. Chicken naturally contains carcinogens. As much as red meat, chicken also increases cholesterol levels. Despite being considered a healthier alternative to chicken, fish nevertheless carries a risk of mercury poisoning.


  1. Hoffman JR, Falvo MJ. Protein - Which is Best? Journal of sports science & medicine [Internet]. 2004;3(3):118–30.
  2. Calder P, editor. Dietary Fish, Fish Nutrients and Immune Function: A Review [Internet]. Frontiers. Carlos O Mendivil; 2021 [cited 2022 Aug 9].
  3. Bang HO. Lipid Research in Greenland. Preventive and Therapeutic Consequences. Scandinavian Journal of Social Medicine. 1990 Mar;18(1):53–7.
  4. NHS. Fish and shellfish [Internet]. 2022.
  5. World Health Organisation. Mercury and Health [Internet]. World Health Organisation: WHO; 2017.
  6. Yucel B, Taskin T. Animal Husbandry and Nutrition [Internet]. Google Books. BoD – Books on Demand; 2018 [cited 2022 Aug 9].
  7. How Much Protein in Chicken? Breast, Thigh and More [Internet]. Healthline. 2017. Available from:
  8. CHAI SJ, COLE D, NISLER A, MAHON BE. Poultry: the most common food in outbreaks with known pathogens, United States, 1998–2012. Epidemiology and Infection. 2016 Oct 26;145(2):316–25.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Ambria Pearce

Bachelor of Science - BSc, Neuroscience, University of Sussex, England

Ambria is currently a BSCs Neuroscience student at the University of Sussex. She has a particular interest in the brain-gut connection; where the brain has a direct influence on the stomach and intestines and the neural processes of mental disorders. She intends to further study neuroscience at a Masters's level.

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