Chicken is a staple in many countries, across the globe however, they weren’t always consumed. It has been found that chickens were raised for cockfights, approximately 10,000 years ago in Southeast Asia and China. Israel has been found to be the first country that started consuming chicken with evidence then suggesting that large scale chicken consumption occurred in Europe, during the 1st Century BC, approximately 100 years later than the finds in Israel.
It is one of the most commonly consumed animal proteins and sources of poultry. Protein is an essential component of our diets and chicken is a high-quality protein, providing all the 8 essential amino acids, that are required daily. Protein is crucial for maintaining and building muscle, ensuring adequate immune function, controlling weight, and assisting with maintaining positive moods, just to name a few. For every 100g serving size of chicken, you will obtain 23.1g of protein. Depending on the weight of an individual, this can make up more than ¼ of the persons daily protein intake.
There are many misconceptions about the fat content of chicken, with many believing its fat content is comparable to red meat. This is certainly not the case.
When looking at the hierarchy of animal protein, in terms of fat content and the types of fat, chicken comes out on top. If consuming the chicken breast, minus the skin, it will contain very little saturated fat but will contain a high amount of omega three and six fatty acids. These fats are important for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health.
The skinless portion of animal protein is best consumed as the skin contains quite a high amount of saturated fat, and this fat has been attributed to high cholesterol and an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Unlike red meat, chicken contains very little total fat, unless of course, the skin is consumed.
On average, we shouldn’t be consuming more than 20grams of saturated fat, daily. If you are consuming chicken daily, you can be assured that you are only consuming 1g of saturated fat per 100g of chicken.
Per 100g, chicken contains very few calories (105 calories) and contains an abundance of various vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin B3 (niacin) and Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and selenium. It is also naturally low in sodium. Although not as high as red meat, it still contains a beneficial amount of iron and zinc.
Quite often, turkey is considered the highest source of tryptophan, when comparing poultry varieties however, chicken contains a higher portion than its friendly counterpart. Tryptophan is crucial for relaxation and sleep patterns.
Chicken is a very versatile protein that can be cooked in a variety of different ways. It is delicious and quick and easy to prepare. It can be added to salads, stir fries, grilled, baked, and marinated. It is a great protein option for hearty winter soups, to improve immune function.
If you’re looking for a healthy protein option that is low in saturated fat, chicken is a great option, that can be consumed daily, in a variety of different meals.
Written by Annmarie Cannone
M.Hum Nut, Grad Dip Naturopathy, B.App Sci (Naturopathic Studies)