How Chicken Tikka Masala Is Deceptively Unhealthy

If you like Indian food and you have fresh chicken or cooked leftover chicken on hand, you can make chicken tikka masala. This savory Indian dish has a tomato-based sauce flavored with traditional Indian seasonings and spice blends such as coriander, cumin and garam masala.

The spices used in Indian dishes contain lot of antioxidant benefits.
Credit: Lisovskaya/iStock/GettyImages

The precise nutrition information depends on the recipe you use to make it. But the United States Department of Agriculture provides the following chicken tikka masala nutrition information for one bowl (225 grams):

  • 270 calories
  • 8 grams of fat
  • 17 grams of protein
  • 31 grams of carbohydrates

Chicken Tikka Masala Calories

Epicurious.com provides a recipe for chicken tikka masala with 684 calories in each serving. This recipe contains clarified butter, or ghee, whole milk yogurt and heavy cream, all of which up the calorie content significantly. You will gain weight if you consume more calories than you expend.

A moderately active man requires 2,200 to 2,800 calories per day to maintain his weight, while a moderately active women requires 1,800 to 2,200 calories per day. One serving of these tasty dish may supply 24 to 38 percent of your daily calorie needs.

Read more: 10 Recipes You Can Make With or Without Meat

High Fat and Cholesterol Content

A serving of chicken tikka masala contains 53 grams of fat, or 81 percent of the daily value based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Saturated fat can increase your risk for heart disease and raise your cholesterol levels, and each serving of chicken tikka masala contains 28 grams of saturated fat, or 138 percent of the daily value.

Chicken tikka masala also contains 230 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. Although it's recently been discovered that cholesterol in food doesn't affect your blood cholesterol, you still need to be careful if you have high cholesterol levels. The maximum recommended daily consumption of cholesterol is 300 milligrams for healthy adults.

Potential for Lots of Sodium

A serving of chicken tikka masala contains 1,414 milligrams of sodium, or 59 percent of the daily value. Most people already consume way too much sodium, which increases your risk of a number of chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Lowering your sodium consumption can help prevent high blood pressure or lower high blood pressure if you already have it. The full tablespoon of salt in the recipe for chicken tikka masala from Epicurious.com is a major contributor of sodium to the dish.

Read more: 8 Facts That Will Make You Rethink Salt's Bad Rap

Healthier Chicken Tikka Masala Options

Chicken tikka masala is rich in protein, with 38 grams per serving. It also provides 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Fiber is a cholesterol-lowering nutrient that also helps prevent spikes in blood sugar levels, and you can increase the fiber content of your meal by using more tomatoes and onions and serving chicken tikka masala with brown rice instead of basmati rice.

Lower the saturated fat and cholesterol content by substituting vegetable oil for ghee, and lower the saturated fat and calorie content by using low-fat yogurt instead of whole milk yogurt. You can lower your sodium consumption by using less salt during cooking.

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