Are Hot Wings Unhealthy for You?

Hot wings are often served with blue cheese dressing for dipping.

Hot wings are often served with blue cheese dressing for dipping.

Hot wings, commonly called buffalo wings, are a fairly recent invention. Created in a small restaurant in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1964, these spicy wings quickly became popular finger foods at many social gatherings. Deep-fried and slathered in a spicy sauce, hot wings are not exactly health foods, but you can enjoy a small serving as an occasional special treat in your diet.

Nutrition Facts

Hot wings receive their spiciness from buffalo sauce, a mixture of hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, butter and spices. The spiciness of hot wings varies by region, and some restaurants offer mild, medium, hot and extremely hot options. Traditionally deep-fried, a serving of four hot wings contains 240 calories, 16 grams of protein and 17 grams of fat. They also contain 60 milligrams of cholesterol per serving, 20 percent of your recommended limit for cholesterol intake for the day.

Fat

Approximately 65 percent of the calories in hot wings comes from fat, mostly due to the frying process and the fatty skin on the chicken wings. One serving of chicken wings contains 4 grams of saturated fat, the dangerous fat that can lead to cholesterol buildup in the blood vessels if consumed in excess. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults limit their saturated fat intake to no more than 10 percent of their total daily calories. Since there are 9 calories in 1 gram of fat, a woman following a 2,000-calorie diet should consume a maximum of 22 grams of saturated fat a day. Four chicken wings contain 18 percent of the daily recommended limit of saturated fat for an average diet.

Sodium

Hot wings are high in sodium, an essential mineral that can raise blood pressure if consumed in large amounts. The Institute of Medicine recommends adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. One serving of four hot wings contains 600 milligrams of sodium, 26 percent of this daily recommended limit. If you want to eat hot wings at a party, keep your servings small and limit your sodium intake for the rest of the day. Instead of pairing your wings with salty and fatty french fries or potato chips, enjoy one serving of wings with a side salad.

Tips

In Buffalo, blue cheese dip traditionally accompanies a sizzling plate of hot wings. One tablespoon of blue cheese dressing contains 71 calories, 8 grams of fat and 156 milligrams of sodium, so pass on the dip to lighten up your appetizer. If you want to serve leaner hot wings at your gathering, skip the deep-fat fryer and broil or bake your wings in the oven with hot sauce. You can also make a skinless and boneless version with chicken breasts. Cut chicken breasts into strips and bake them in the oven with a light drizzle of buffalo sauce.

 

About the Author

Jennifer Dlugos is a Boston-based writer with more than 10 years of experience in the health-care and wellness industries. She is also an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter who teaches screenwriting and film production classes throughout New England. Dlugos holds a master's degree in dietetics.

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