Health

Check Out The Health Benefits of Chicken Meat

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Chicken meat is incredibly nutritious and one of the most popular protein sources worldwide. When included in a balanced diet, chicken may help improve muscle mass and support weight maintenance, among other health benefits.

Here’s everything you need to know about chicken, including its benefits, risks, and nutrition, as well as healthful ways to incorporate it into your diet.

Is a Source of Complete Protein
Chicken meat is an excellent source of complete protein. A complete protein is a protein that supplies all nine essential amino acids the body can’t make on its own. Amino acids, along with protein, are considered the building blocks of life. The acids are used to make protein.

Protein is found in every cell in the human body. It is vital for many important bodily functions, including:

Blood clotting
Vision
Immune response
Fluid balance
Growth and development
The production of hormones, antibodies, and enzymes
The amount of protein in chicken varies depending on the cut. For example, a 3-ounce serving of chicken breast supplies 26 grams (g) of protein, while the same portion of wings, thighs, and drumstick provides around 20 g.

Other meat and animal products are complete protein sources too. But keep in mind that white meat—like chicken—may be a healthier alternative to red meat and processed meat. Research suggests red and processed meats may increase the risk of heart disease, dementia, and cancer. In contrast, white meat is considered neutral or potentially protective against the conditions.
Editor’s Note: The recommended daily protein intake to avoid deficiency in sedentary adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (g/kg). However, recent studies suggest that older adults and physically active individuals may need more protein. Older adults may require 1-1.2 g/kg for optimal health, while active people may need 1.2-2.0 g/kg.

Supports Muscle Growth and Maintenance
Dietary protein supplies your body with the amino acids it needs to repair and build muscle tissue.

When coupled with resistance training, higher protein intakes have been found to increase muscle mass and strength. Additionally, higher protein can help preserve muscle mass during periods of calorie restriction and weight loss.

However, protein is not only beneficial for people looking to bulk up and improve their physical appearance. It’s also important for healthy aging. Inadequate protein intake can lead to muscle loss, impaired muscle growth, and functional decline in older adults.

May Promote Weight Loss
Chicken, especially skinless chicken breast, is high in protein yet low in calories. Observational studies have shown that, when consumed as part of a vegetable-rich diet, chicken may help lower the risk of obesity. This may be due to its high protein content.

Protein has a higher thermic effect than carbohydrates or fat. This means your body burns more calories digesting and metabolizing protein than other macronutrients.

Protein also helps maintain lean muscle mass, preventing your metabolism from dipping during periods of weight loss.

Several studies have found high-protein diets can improve weight loss and help prevent weight regain. However, long-term studies are needed to determine whether these effects last beyond 12 months.

May Improve Brain Development and Function
Chicken is a rich source of choline and is reasonably high in vitamin B12. Both of these nutrients play an essential role in brain development and function.

It’s estimated that 90%–95% of people who are pregnant fall short of meeting their daily choline needs. While research is limited and conflicting, low choline levels during pregnancy may be linked to neural tube defects. (The neural tube is what forms the early brain and spine.) In contrast, higher choline intake during pregnancy is associated with cognitive benefits in babies.

A higher choline intake may also protect against cognitive decline in older adults.
Taking in vitamin B12 can help with brain health, too. Infants born to people with inadequate vitamin B12 levels are at a greater risk of poor growth, psychomotor function (movement that requires mental processes), and brain development, which may not be reversible.
May Improve Skin and Joint Health
Chicken is an excellent source of dietary collagen. In fact, many collagen supplements are made by extracting collagen from the bones, skin, and feet of chickens.

Collagen is the main structural protein found in bone, skin, and tendons. As we age, our bodies produce less collagen. This can lead to joint pain, muscle weakness, and wrinkles.

Research has shown that chicken collagen may help improve joint pain and stiffness. Animal studies suggest collagen from chickens may also help prevent skin aging, though research on humans would be needed to confirm this effect.

If you want to reap the potential benefits of chicken collagen, it is important to consume cuts that have the skin on. You can also make a collagen-rich bone broth by simmering leftover skin and bones from a whole chicken.

Nutrition of Chicken
The nutrition of chicken can vary depending on the cut, the cooking method used, and whether or not it has the skin on.

A 3-ounce serving of boneless, skinless, cooked chicken breast provides:

Calories: 128
Fat: 2.7 g
Saturated Fat: 0.8 g
Unsaturated Fat: 1.7 g
Sodium: 44 milligrams (mg)
Carbohydrates: 0 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 26 g
Phosphorus: 18% of the daily value (DV)
Selenium: 44% of the DV
Choline: 20% of the DV
Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 14% of the DV
Niacin (vitamin B3): 64% of the DV
Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5): 29% of the DV
Vitamin B6: 58% of the DV
Vitamin B12: 7% of the DV
In comparison, a 3-ounce serving of skin-on chicken thigh contains:

Calories: 197
Fat: 12.5 g
Saturated Fat: 3.5 g, or about 18% of the DV
Unsaturated Fat: 7.9 g
Sodium: 87 mg
Carbohydrates: 0 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 20 g
Phosphorus: 15% of the DV
Zinc: 13% of the DV
Selenium: 39% of the DV
Choline: 12% of the DV
Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 12% of the DV
Niacin (vitamin B3): 31% of the DV
Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5): 21% of the DV
Vitamin B6: 21% of the DV
Vitamin B12: 16% of the DV
Dark meat chicken, like chicken thighs, contains more fat and slightly more calories than white meat varieties, like chicken breast.

Most of the fat in chicken thighs is unsaturated fat, which may have heart health benefits when consumed in moderation. However, thigh cuts with the skin on are relatively high in saturated fat, which can increase cholesterol levels and heart disease risk.

Nevertheless, both dark and white meat are packed with good-for-you nutrients like protein, several B vitamins, and selenium.

B vitamins help you convert the food you eat into energy. They’re also important for the production of red blood cells. Selenium has antioxidant properties and may protect against cell damage caused by free radicals. It also is necessary for a healthy immune system and thyroid gland function.
Risks of Chicken
Chicken is not appropriate for people who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, as it comes from animals.

Due to its high protein content, people with kidney disease who are not on dialysis may need to limit their chicken intake. Consuming more protein than your body needs can stress your kidneys, causing them to wear out faster.

In addition, raw chicken is often contaminated with harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Always practice safe food handling and cook chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill harmful bacteria.

While rare, it’s also possible that you can be allergic to chicken. Chicken allergies occur when the body’s immune system mistakes chicken as a harmful invader, triggering an allergic reaction. If you are allergic to other meats, such as beef, turkey, goat, duck, or even whale, it’s possible you may be allergic to chicken. Contact your healthcare provider if you experience nausea, vomiting, hives, or difficulty breathing after eating chicken.
Tips for Consuming Chicken
Chicken is extremely versatile and can be prepared a variety of ways. The way it’s cooked can have a significant impact on its nutritional profile and health benefits.

Here are some healthful ways to incorporate chicken into your diet:

Instead of frying chicken, bake it in the oven, grill it, or pan-fry it with olive oil.
Consume skin-on chicken in moderation to avoid introducing too much saturated fat into your diet.
Serve grilled or baked chicken over mixed greens and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Sauté diced chicken breast, broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, and olive oil in a skillet.
Use ground chicken instead of beef in tacos, spaghetti, and other dishes.
Avoid processed lunch meats that contain chicken, as they’re often high in sodium and preservatives.
A Quick Review
Chicken is high in health-promoting nutrients, including protein, several B vitamins, selenium, and choline. These compounds may benefit muscle growth, weight management, and brain health. To get the most benefits from chicken, choose lean cuts like chicken breast that are prepared using healthier cooking methods, such as baking, grilling, and roasting. If you have kidney disease and are not on dialysis, talk with your healthcare provider or registered dietitian to determine how much chicken you can safely consume

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