7 Impressive Benefits of Chicken

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Emily Borth

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The health benefits of chicken include its ability to provide a good supply of protein, essential vitamins, and minerals. It also aids in weight loss, regulating cholesterol and blood pressure.

Chicken

Chicken is the most common type of poultry in the world. It has been domesticated and consumed as food for thousands of years. There are many varieties of chicken including free-range chicken, organic chicken, and conventional chicken, and the differences between them relate to how they are fed and raised. While free-range chickens, as the term implies, roam freely in the pastures, conventional chickens, controversially, are kept in cages and not allowed to move freely. Conventional chickens are injected with hormones to speed growth and are sometimes kept in unhygienic and unhealthy conditions meaning they are also often treated with antibiotics.

Of the three, organic chicken is the most expensive because they must have access to the outdoors, are only allowed to eat organically grown food (with no pesticides), and they may not be given antibiotics, as per the USDA standards. They are generally kept in healthy and clean conditions and allowed to grow naturally.

A closeup view of baked chicken legs on a paper with fresh tomatoes

Nutrition Facts

Chicken, broilers or fryers, meat only, cooked, roasted
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]63.79
Energy [kcal]190
Protein [g]28.93
Total lipid (fat) [g]7.41
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]0
Fiber, total dietary [g]0
Sugars, total [g]0
Calcium, Ca [mg]15
Iron, Fe [mg]1.21
Magnesium, Mg [mg]25
Phosphorus, P [mg]195
Potassium, K [mg]243
Sodium, Na [mg]86
Zinc, Zn [mg]2.1
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]0
Thiamin [mg]0.07
Riboflavin [mg]0.18
Niacin [mg]9.17
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.47
Folate, DFE [µg]6
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0.33
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]16
Vitamin A, IU [IU]53
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.27
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0.1
Vitamin D [IU]5
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]2.4
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]2.04
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]2.66
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]1.69
Cholesterol [mg]89
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Nutritional Value of Chicken

According to the USDA, chicken (100 g) has energy (250 kcal), protein (12.5 g), fat (22 g), saturated fat (7 g), cholesterol (89 mg), iron (0.3 mg), potassium (170 mg), and sodium (179 mg). In terms of vitamins, chicken is a good source of vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid and also contains some vitamin E, K, and others.

Chicken Calories

When it comes to lean protein, chicken is a very popular option as it does not contain a lot of fat. The number of calories may vary on the basis of different parts of the chicken. Let us find them out.

  • Chicken breast calories: 1 cup (140 g) of chopped or diced chicken breast provides 231 calories
  • Chicken thigh calories: 100 g serving of chicken thigh provides 209 calories
  • Chicken wings calories: 100 g of chicken wings provide 203 calories

Health Benefits of Chicken

Being known all around the world for its protein content, chicken has a wide range of health benefits. Let’s discuss them below.

High Protein Content

As per the USDA, chicken breast, with 21 grams of protein per 100 grams, is one of the best foods for protein. Protein plays an important role in our diet. It is made of amino acids, which are the building blocks of our muscles. Generally, the recommended amount of daily protein requirement is 1 gram per 1 kg of body weight or 0.4 g of protein per pound of body weight. For athletes, the daily requirement of protein is about 0.6 g to 0.9 g per pound.

Rich in Vitamins & Minerals

It is not only a good source of protein but is also very rich in vitamins and minerals. For example, B vitamins help the body with energy production and also help form healthy red blood cells.

Vitamin D in chicken helps in calcium absorption and bone strengthening. Vitamin A helps in building eyesight and plays an important role in the immune system. Minerals such as iron are helpful in hemoglobin formation, muscle activity, and preventing anemia. Potassium and sodium are electrolytes, which aid in fluid balance while phosphorus is helpful in tackling weakness, bone health, brain function, dental care, and metabolic issues.

Weight Loss

Diets with high levels of protein have been known to be effective in reducing weight and chicken fits well as part of a high protein diet for weight loss. A study published in the journal Nutrition shows that weight loss and improvements in the total lipid profile can be achieved in people who regularly ate chicken breast. This can be attributed to its high protein content and low total calories.

Control of Blood Pressure

As per a research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2008, chicken consumption has been found to be useful in controlling blood pressure as well. When following a diet high in chicken, nuts, low-fat dairy, vegetables and fruits, improvements were observed in people with hypertension.

Anticancer Properties

Studies have found that in non-vegetarians, higher consumption of red meat, pork, and ham increased the risk of colorectal cancer, while in chicken and fish eaters, the risk of developing this cancer in later life was reduced, although the evidence is not conclusive. Reduction in consumption of red meat is associated with lowering the risk of colon cancer.

Reduced Cholesterol

The amount of saturated fat and cholesterol found in red meat such as beef, pork, and lamb are much higher than the levels found in chicken, fish, and vegetables. Therefore, the American Heart Association has advised consuming chicken or fish instead of red meat for a lowered risk of cholesterol and subsequent heart disease development. The AHA also says that consuming chicken or fish must be limited to normal levels, as excessive consumption can also lead to the development of heart disease.

Treatment of Common Cold

Intake of warm chicken soup also provides relief from the common cold, including symptoms like a congested nose and a sore throat.

Quick Chicken Recipes

  • Chicken Salad: Add roasted chicken breast, cherries or cranberries, halved seedless grapes, diced apple, chopped green onions, and boiled mushrooms to a bowl and mix well. Add salt and pepper as per taste. Enjoy this healthy and easy to prepare the salad.
  • Chicken Sandwich: Toast 2 slices of bread and spread butter on them. Put slices of cucumber, beetroot, onion, capsicum, and cooked chicken on one slice. You can use a mix of chicken thighs and breast. Add salt and pepper to taste, and cover it with the second slice. Serve with ketchup or mayonnaise.
  • Oven-fried Chicken: Take medium-sized cut chicken breast pieces or chicken legs (drumsticks), season them with paprika and salt to your preferred taste. Dip the pieces in egg whites and later dip them into a mix of crushed cornflakes. Grease a baking tray and place the pieces on it. Bake for 30 minutes and serve.

Measures to Be Taken

Here are some of the safety measures that should be taken while buying chicken.

  • The USDA has specified certain rules and regulations for handling chicken. All the details are mentioned on their official website.
  • All the varieties or breeds that are sold in the market are treated as chickens.
  • The USDA inspects all the chickens sold in the market as well as in the farms to make sure that they do not have any diseases that spread and guarantee that the consumers get the best quality chicken.
  • Chicken can be either fresh or frozen. According to the USDA rules, “fresh” is where the raw poultry has not been frozen below 26° F or -3.3° C. Raw poultry that has been held at 0° F or -17.8° C must be labeled frozen or previously frozen.
  • According to the USDA, no growth hormones are used while raising them. On the other hand, antibiotics are used to prevent the spread or development of microbial infections and diseases. However, the law requires the withdrawal of such antibiotics weeks before the slaughter of chickens so that no residual antibiotics remain in the chicken’s systems.
  • The USDA also specifies the temperatures at which it can or cannot be stored. At temperatures between 40° F and 140° F, bacteria can start multiplying. Freezing cannot kill bacteria but will stop the bacteria from multiplying and decomposing the chicken. Only the thorough cooking of poultry above 165° F or 73.9° C will kill the bacteria present.
  • Some bacteria that can be found in it include Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Campylobacter jejuni, Listeria monocytogenes, and Escherichia coli.
  • The USDA also recommends washing hands and cleaning the surfaces often to avoid bacterial infections. Raw poultry, red meats, and fish must be stored separately to stop the spread of any bacteria to other foods.

These are some of the rules and recommendations laid down by the USDA to ensure a safe distribution and consumption of chicken.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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