Ever wondered why despite of so many varieties of meat, does chicken rule the chart? Why is it the most sought-after meat around the globe? You might think because it is economical. However, what matters the most is its nutrition content. Here’s few nutritional reasons mentioned below to which we all would agree
Chicken is a versatile meat: There are several ways to gain chicken calories, it depends upon the method of cooking it. You can have it grilled, steamed, poached, microwaved, barbecued or even you can have fried chicken. To add more taste to it, you can combine chicken with vegetables, fruits or even with other meat. By eating chicken you not only get earn calories in chicken but you also enjoy your food. It is one of the most effective and favourite food for the people who want high-protein diet.
Chicken meat contains zero carbs: Chicken meat contains almost zero carbohydrate, just like other type of protein. For many people chicken meat can be bad, since the body needs carbs to convert energy from food. However, if you are in low-carb diet then you may realise that no carb will help in burning fat fast. Beside, you can have carbs from other sources such as vegetables and fruits.
Chicken meat is low in fat content: The fat in chicken is extremely concentrated on its skin, so while having chicken keep the skin off to keep away the calories; chicken skin also raises the level of cholesterol. We should remember that chicken is low in saturated fat and in calorie if you avoid the skin. It is an awesome form of lean meat. Fat in chicken will protect your internal organs, add sheen to your hair, and give you healthy skin. Chicken keeps away coronary heart diseases as well.
Chicken is rich in protein. Chicken like other poultry products is rich in protein. Proteins are required to build muscles and growth. It gives antibodies that prevent you from getting sick. It also allows your body to produce enzymes important to convert food into product important for our body. Around 3 ounces of chicken is enough for the protein intake of the entire day.
Be it an ardent food lover or a health enthusiast, to indulge in a succulent chicken leg or breast does not involve much afterthoughts about health. So, without fretting much, eat a piece of chicken which is rich in various nutrients that our body requires to stay fit and healthy.
Once you have your boneless chicken breast or two, there's no end to the things you can do with it. You can grill it, bake it, fry it, pound it flat and bread it, or cut it thin and stir fry it. Coating a piece of boneless chicken with high fiber bread or cereal crumbs and baking instead of frying is great way to save on calories. Stir fry chicken is an easy way to add a serving of vegetables to your meal. Remember to go easy on the sauce to save calories that way too.
In fact, it is the world's leading source of animal protein and has been a healthy alternative to red meat.
Even still, chicken breast is the leanest part of the bird and has become very popular among athletes and people simply looking for healthy choices in their everyday diet.
Why Chicken Breast? Let’s find out :-
White meat chicken comes from the breast and wings. Dark meat chicken comes from the leg and thigh. Here are the nutrition facts about white and dark meat chicken.
One 101 g. chicken leg has 12 grams, 18 grams of protein and 3 grams of saturated fat. 141 g. serving size of roasted chicken breast has 5 grams of fat, only 1 gram of saturated fat and 43 grams of protein. Both white and dark meat chicken are high in cholesterol, but dark meat contains a higher percentage.
To reduce cholesterol intake in chicken, reduce portion size. The FDA recommends a no more than 6-8 ounces of meat daily. How many people eat one chicken leg at a meal? The average dark meat chicken meal includes at least two pieces of chicken. One four ounce has a much higher protein to fat ration, making chicken breast much more filling. Eating one chicken breast rather than two or three chicken leg or thigh portions reduces fat and cholesterol exponentially
Chicken Breast: Roasted with Skin
If the size of the portion is said to be 3 ounces, in this case, consuming this chicken breast will provide about 63 calories from fat, 70 milligrams of fat and 25 grams of protein. The percentage value of proteins is 59, which means that 3 ounces are enough to satisfy the daily needs of an adult.
Chicken Breast: Roasted without Skin
In this case, considering 3 ounces again, the calories gained from fat are only 14, while the total fat is about 1.5 grams. 24 grams of protein are gained. This is a better way to eat chicken breast due to the very low fat content.
Chicken Breast: Barbecued
Here, let's consider the serving size as 5.5 ounces. Barbecued chicken breast is high in calories with a person gaining at least 120 calories from this serving size. This is also high in sodium and cholesterol. The total fat gained is 14 grams and the percentage of proteins gained is quite less, 37 percent. All these facts show that barbecued chicken breast is not high in the chicken nutrition list and should be consumed as less as possible, definitely not on a regular basis.
Other than the above 3 ways, chicken breast is cooked in other ways too. However, it is always better to cook the breast without the skin as removing the skin removes half of the fat from the chicken. So, if chicken is eaten for chicken nutrition, then it should be eaten without its skin.
The healthiest method for cooking chicken breast or any meat is to grill the meat. One of the biggest complaints about chicken breast is that it gets dry if over-cooked. Chicken need only be cooked until all the meat is to pound the chicken breast to a uniform thickness. The chicken breast will cook evenly, preventing the edges of the meat from getting dry while waiting for the center to finish cooking.
What does Chicken Breast contain? Read on to know more about your favorite meat
Chicken Breast Nutrition
Not surprisingly, there is a slight calorie difference between chicken breasts with skin and those without. A 3-ounce serving size without skin carries 120 calories, with 14 of them from fat. Include skin and the same serving size and the calorie count rises to 170, with 63 of those calories coming from fat.
With a major difference in the calorie count being based on the skin and its fat content, it stands to reason that a skinless chicken breast would have less fat than its opposite. A skinless breast has 1.5 grams of fat and .5 grams of saturated fat. The same piece of chicken with skin has 7 grams of fat, with 2 grams of saturated fat.
Animal fat is a large producer of cholesterol, which means it is present in both types of chicken breast. However, the presence of skin has little to no effect on the cholesterol level, with both types having 70 milligrams of cholesterol.
Protein content is one of the strengths of chicken breast, making it a favorite of athletes looking to build muscle, yet stay lean. It may also be the only category in which having skin on the chicken is an advantage (albeit slight). Without skin, chicken breast contains 24 grams of protein. That number increases to 25 grams of protein when the skin is left on.
Vitamins and Minerals
In addition to its other nutritional benefits, chicken breast contains trace amounts of necessary vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C, calcium, iron and several different B-vitamins are present in chicken (both with and without skin).
However, dark meat is not without benefits of its own. Dark meat is loaded with selenium and its fat content is a mixed bag of saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats. It's also higher in iron and zinc that white meat. There's no good reason that a health conscience individual shouldn't include both white and dark meat in their diet
The calorie content in chicken may vary from pieces to pieces, from with bones to being boneless. For example a regular size chicken breast piece contains around 260 chicken calories. If you can have boneless chicken breast it can come down to around 200 chicken calories. Whereas, one serving or one bowl of chicken salad contains approximately 180 chicken calories
Skinless boneless chicken breast has been skinned and deboned. Many experts promote skinless boneless chicken breasts as the best for you. It's low in fat, has almost half the fat of dark meat, and is high in protein and niacin. Niacin is a B vitamin and helps translate energy in carbohydrates, protein, and fat into energy for the body. Boneless chicken breast has about 3 grams of fat for a 3 ounce (85 grams) serving. It has about 142 calories in those 3 ounces (85 grams) and 26 grams of protein.
Health Benefits of .Chicken Breast
1 - A Very Good Source of Protein
Chicken breast can help burn fat and build muscle. Chicken is a great source of high quality protein, and chicken breast is the leanest part of chicken. It contains negligible fat.. Its also called ‘white meat’- which is the lean part of chicken. Note that cooking chicken breast might add fat. Chicken legs and other portions contain fat and are known as ‘dark meat’.
If there is one word that describes chicken, it is versatility. Roasted, broiled, grilled or poached, and combined with a wide range of herbs and spices, chicken makes a delicious, flavorful and nutritious meal. It is no wonder chicken is the world's primary source of animal protein and a healthy alternative to red. Chicken is rated as a very good source of protein, providing 67.6% of the daily value for protein in 4 ounces. The structure of humans and animals is built on protein. We derive our amino acids from animal and plant sources of protein, then rearrange the nitrogen to make the pattern of amino acids we require.
2. Fat is less saturated
People who are meat eaters, but are looking for ways to reduce the amount of fat in their meals, can try eating more chicken. The leanest part of the chicken is the chicken breast, which has less than half the fat of a trimmed Choice grade T-bone steak. The fat in chicken is also less saturated than beef fat. However, eating the chicken with the skin doubles the amount of fat and saturated fat in the food. For this reason, chicken is best skinned before cooking.
3. Protein Protects Against Bone Loss in Older People
Older people, have poor protein intake. But protein may be important in reducing bone loss in older people. In one study, the 70- to 90-year-old men and women with the highest protein intakes lost significantly less bone over a four-year period than those who consumed less protein. Animal protein, as well as overall protein intake, was associated with preserving bone.
With data from 615 participants in the Framingham (MA) Osteoporosis Study, researchers examined the relationship between protein intakes in 1988-1989 and changes in bone mineral density four years later. They accounted for all factors known to increase risk of bone loss.
Participants who reported the lowest daily protein intakes - roughly equivalent to half a chicken breast - had lost significantly more bone in the hip and spine four years later than those with the highest intakes - equivalent to about 9 ounces of steak and 1 cup of tuna salad. The group with the next lowest intake - equivalent to about 2 cups of cottage cheese - also lost significantly more bone than the highest protein intake group, but only at the hip.
4. Chicken's Cancer-Protective Nutrients
Chicken is a very good source of the cancer-protective B vitamin, niacin. Components of DNA require niacin, and a deficiency of niacin (as well as other B-complex vitamins) has been directly linked to genetic (DNA) damage.
5.Chicken is also a good source of the trace mineral, selenium.
Selenium is of fundamental importance to human health. It is an essential component of several major metabolic pathways, including thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defense systems, and immune function.
There is a strong inverse correlation between selenium intake and cancer incidence. Several mechanisms have been suggested to explain the cancer-preventive activities of selenium. Selenium has been shown to induce DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells, to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells, and to induce their apoptosis, the self-destruct sequence the body uses to eliminate worn out or abnormal cells.
In addition, selenium is incorporated at the active site of many proteins, including glutathione peroxidase, which may be the most important for cancer protection. One of the body's most powerful antioxidant enzymes, glutathione peroxidase is used in the liver to detoxify a wide range of potentially harmful molecules. When levels of glutathione peroxidase are too low, these toxic molecules are not disarmed and wreak havoc on any cells with which they come in contact, damaging their cellular DNA and promoting the development of cancer cells..
6.Protect against Alzheimer's and Age-related Cognitive Decline
Research indicates regular consumption of niacin-rich foods like chicken provides protection against Alzheimer's disease and age-related cognitive decline. Researchers from the Chicago Health and Aging Project interviewed 3,718 Chicago residents aged 65 or older about their diet, then tested their cognitive abilities over the following six years.
Those getting the most niacin from foods (22 mg per day) were 70% less likely to have developed Alzheimer's disease than those consuming the least (about 13 mg daily), and their rate of age-related cognitive decline was significantly less.)
7.B vitamins for Energy
Chicken is not only a very good source of niacin, but is also a good source of vitamin B6]. This particular mix of B-complex vitamins makes chicken a helpful food in supporting energy metabolism throughout the body, because these B vitamins are involved as cofactors that help enzymes throughout the body guide metabolic reactions.
Both of these B vitamins are important for energy production. In addition to its DNA actions, niacin is essential for the conversion of the body's proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into usable energy. Niacin helps optimize blood sugar regulation via its actions as a component of a molecule called glucose tolerance factor, which optimizes insulin activity. Vitamin B6 is essential for the body's processing of carbohydrate (sugar and starch), especially the breakdown of glycogen, the form in which sugar is stored in muscle cells and to a lesser extent in our liver.
8.Vitamin B6 for Cardiovascular Health
In addition to its role in energy metabolism, vitamin B6 plays a pivotal role as a methyl donor in the basic cellular process of methylation, through which methyl groups are transferred from one molecule to another, resulting in the formation of a wide variety of very important active molecules.
When levels of B6 are inadequate, the availability of methyl groups is also lessened. One result of the lack of methyl groups is that molecules that would normally be quickly changed into other types of molecules not only do not change, but accumulate. One such molecule, homocysteine, is so damaging to blood vessel walls that high levels are considered a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
9.Reduces risk of heart disease
Chicken helps lower risk of heart disease and stroke through its rich supply of vitamin B6, which may help lower homocysteine levels in the blood. Research has linked high homocysteine levels to heart disease and stroke. Frequent red meat consumption significantly increases risk of "acute coronary syndrome," a label which includes greatly increased risk of unstable angina, plaque rupture, blood clot formation and heart attack.
Eating more than 8 servings of red meat a month was associated with 52% increased risk of a "cardiac event," e.g., cardiac arrest and sudden death.
Eating white meat more than 12 times a month increased likelihood of having a cardiac event by 18%.
10. Protect from infections
It is a rich source of a variety of essential nutrients and vitamins, which assist in strengthening the immune system of the body.
Chicken is also reputed to be one of the safest meats available, as it is least associated with any side-effects of consumption The trace mineral selenium is found in good quantities in chicken.
It is an essential component required by many major metabolic pathways, which includes thyroid hormone metabolism, anti-oxidant defense systems, and immune function of the body.
11. Helps loose weight
Chicken is a very good source of lean, high quality protein. Protein is an essential nutrient for growth and development and also plays an important role in assisting overweight and obese people in losing weight fast.
12. Repairs and Protects D N A
Chicken is a rich source of niacin, a B-vitamin that protects the body against cancer. A deficiency of niacin can be directly associated with genetic (DNA) damage.
13. Protects Blood vessels
Vitamin B6, present in chicken, plays a crucial role as a methyl donor in the basic cellular process of transferring methyl groups from one molecule to another, leading to the formation of a wide range of important active molecules. This process is known as Methylation. The availability of methyl groups is lessened due to the inadequacy of B6, which can result in damage to the blood vessels.
14. Antoxidant agent
Vitamin B6, along with niacin, makes chicken a favorable food in supporting the energy metabolism of the body. Both these B-complex vitamins help the enzymes throughout the body to guide the metabolic reactions. It is also a very good source of the trace mineral, selenium. Selenium is an essential component of several major metabolic pathways, including thyroid hormone metabolism antioxidant defense systems, and immune function.
15. Good for nervous system
Chicken meat is a good source of phosphorus, which is a very essential mineral for the body. Phosphorus maintains the health of teeth and bones, and also ensures healthy functioning of the kidneys, liver and the central nervous system.
16. Nutrients sufficient for growth and development.
The dark meat on a chicken breast provides a good source of B vitamins and is rich in riboflavin. The light meat is rich in niacin. Both niacin and vitamin B6 helps in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and proteins in the body. . Chicken has a low sodium content making it a great food for people on a low salt diet.
17. Good for skin
It is a short fibered meat making it easy to digest and great for young children and the elderly. It has high amounts of Niacin (vitamin B3) and Vitamin B6. Niacin is essential to maintain good skin and nervous system.
18. Helps regulate cholesterol levels
Although chicken is known to be high in cholesterol, it is also one of the highest sources of the cholesterol-lowering niacin. Also known as vitamin B3, niacin has been used for years to lower LDL, the bad cholesterol in the blood stream, by increasing HDL, the good cholesterol. HDL keeps us healthy by sweeping up LDL, thus the higher the good cholesterol, the less bad cholesterol is present in the blood.
19. Keeps immune system healthy
Meat, poultry and fish are high in quality protein. Chicken provides 58% of the daily value of this mineral which works by producing cells to support the immune system and increase energy.
20. Reduces risk of arthritis
Research has shown that study participants who lack the trace mineral selenium in the body are more likely to develop knee OA. Chicken is packed with selenium, providing 32 % of the needed daily value.
21. Helps keep bones healthy
In addition to calcium, phosphorus is also equally important for bone health, and chicken can supply almost a quarter of the daily needed value.
22. Helps fight stress
Just like eggs, chicken also contains pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), one of the nutrients which play a role in fighting stress.
23. Helps relieve symptoms of PMS
Chicken is a good source of magnesium. Studies have shown that some women with PMS seem to have a low level of the mineral magnesium in the blood. Those who ate foods high in magnesium had better mood and less water retention compared to those who did not get enough supply.
24. Regulates blood pressure levels
Chicken contains the blood pressure-lowering potassium.
25. Helps build and maintain body tissues
The fourth B vitamin found in chicken meat is riboflavin. A deficiency in this vitamin results in soreness around the lips, mouth and tongue, cracking of the skin at both corners of the mouth and peeling of the skin, particularly around the nose.
26. Chicken contains zinc
Zinc functions in more than 80 hormones and enzymes. It helps in reproduction, growth, maintenance of glucose tolerance and healing of wounds. Deficiency is this mineral has shown a variety of side effects ranging from surgical and physical injury to diabetes. Chicken also contains zinc. A lack of this mineral in the body may manifest through loss of appetite and weight.
27. Versatile nature
It is a very versatile food that can be used in all kinds of dishes. Chicken is one of Australia’s favorite foods because it is wholesome, versatile and easy to prepare. It can be cooked in many different ways, either by itself or paired with other foods such as grains, vegetables or fruits. It can be used in appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and main dishes.
28. Chicken is good source for the mineral iron
Its most important function is to carry oxygen to human blood cells. Deficiency in this mineral can lead to reduction in immune system capacity and anemia.
In addition to this, white meat chicken is one of the lowest fat protein sources, and leg meat, while a little higher in fat, provides a rich flavor to any meal. Chicken fits easily into today’s preference for healthy living.
As we can see from the above, there are various reasons why chicken is important in our diet. The best part is some amount of chicken can be consumed daily which will satisfy the body's need to proteins and other minerals too along with making the meal wonderful to eat! However, chicken cooked at home is far rich in chicken nutrition than the chicken eaten outside. Food enthusiasts - bear this point in mind to always make chicken recipes at home and skin the chicken to get rid of all the excessive fat. Enjoy!
The author of this article, Priti Pasricha, is an experienced Academician and Counselor. She has been acting as a bridge between Teacher-Child-Parent Counseling for the past many years.
She is a professionally trained n qualified Primary Teacher and for the past few years she has been working as a Centre Head with an internationally reputed Chain of Primary Schools based at Delhi.
Besides her academic interest, she’s an explorer and a keen learner of the world around her with music and reading as her PASSION.