When it comes to the consumption of meats and non-vegetarian food, research-based data shows that approximately only 18% world is a vegetarian. However, the research also states that for India the statistics differ; approximately 34% of Indians are vegetarians.
Although, eating vegetarian or vegan food is being increasingly acknowledged as a healthy food diet. The majority of the world’s population still eats meats or eggs at least once a week. The most popular choice of meat is Chicken; it is consumed in greater quantities and regular frequencies in comparison to the other meats.
Let’s understand Chicken in detail.
Benefits of Eating Chicken
1. Chicken is Rich in Protein
Proteins are the bodybuilding nutritious elements that should be part of our daily food. They help our body to weather wear and tear; moreover, they are necessary for muscle formation, brain function as well as the repair of our body.
When compared with all the vegetarian and non-vegetarian sources of protein, it can be easily stated that Chicken is the richest source of protein. Eating protein-rich foods enable your body to stabilize its sugar levels; since chicken is a rich source of protein its consumption directly affects the blood sugar levels of your body. The consumption of 100 grams of chicken can be expected to give us approximately 27 grams of chicken.
2. Good for Heart
Heart’s health is directly related to the presence of homocysteine amino acids. The homocysteine acids are the amino acids present in our bloodstream. They are created by eating meats. High levels of these amino acids are believed to be a cause for arterial damage.
Consuming chicken breasts are purported to suppress or control the production of homocysteine amino acids, thereby, increasing heart health.
3. Rich in Vitamin B
Vitamin B is required by the body to maintain good cell health. They also impact brain function, red blood cell formation, and body energy levels. The necessary Vitamin B for the body are thiamine – B1, riboflavin – B2, niacin – B3, pantothenic acid – B5, pyridoxine – B6, biotin – B7, folate – B9, and cobalamin – B12.
Chicken meat is researched be rich in source of all types of Vitamin B. It is especially rich in B3 and B6. It also contains the other Vitamin B variants in lesser quantities. 100 grams of cooked chicken (skinless) can provide nearly 70% of the stated requirement of the body of B3 and 30% of B6.
4. Rich in Phosphorus, Selenium, and Iron
Phosphorus is essential in making bones, generating cells, and brain functioning in the body. An adult body requires 700 mg of phosphorus daily. The quantity is more for adolescents and pregnant women. 100 grams of chicken breast can give 214 mg of phosphorus; this is nearly 30 % of the daily required quota of phosphorus.
Selenium helps fight infections in the body and the daily functioning of the body. An adult needs 55 mcg, children’s needs change with age, and pregnant women need approximately 65 mcg of Selenium daily. 100 grams of chicken can provide 29 mcg of selenium, which is more than 50% of the daily requirement of selenium in an adult.
Iron constitutes that part of the red blood cells, i.e. hemoglobin, that carry oxygen to the cells in the body. Therefore, it is vital to the functioning of the human body. Additionally, it helps in increasing general focus, body immunity, good nail and hair health, etc.
The daily requirement of iron depends on age, gender, and state of health. Women need 27 mg of iron during pregnancy daily. Women need 18 mg from 18 years till menopause; post-menopause women need 8 mg of iron, the same quantity as that of an adult man. 100 grams of chicken gives 1.3 mg of Iron; this is 16 % of an adult male’s daily requirement.
5. Natural Antidepressant
Research states that chicken is also rich in an amino acid, namely tryptophan, which helps in the production of serotonin in the body. Serotonin controls the sleep patterns and guides the mood levels. 80 grams of chicken translates to 123% of the required tryptophan. Therefore, including chicken in your daily meals is an effective way to beat depression.
6. Metabolic Rate Booster
High proteins foods require more energy for digestion, and therefore, they act as a metabolic rate booster. Chicken, as a high protein and a low-fat diet, helps in boosting a sluggish metabolism. However, this boost is temporary only and can only be sustained through a regular intake of a high protein diet.
What are the Precautions in Eating Chicken?
All things come with pros and cons, so does chicken. Eating chicken needs to have certain cautions followed or else it may become a health hazard. Let’s look at a few precautions –
1. Salmonella Poisoning
It’s a kind of bacterial food poisoning caused by consuming infected meat. The symptoms of salmonella poisoning are vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, fever, and chills. The way to prevent this infection is to choose your meat grocer carefully, to elude chances of improperly stored meat or meat from sick animals, and avoid undercooked meat.
2. E.coli Infection
Although E. coli is present in human as well as animal intestines; however, some strains of it can cause severe infection in the intestines. The common symptoms of E. coli infection are severe stomach cramps, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Eating E. coli infected meats is a common way to be infected with the viral strain of E. coli.
3. Cholesterol Problem
The level of cholesterol in chicken is dependent on the cooking process as well as the cut of the meat. Chicken wings are the most cholesterol heavy part of the bird. The correct choice of meat and healthy way of cooking, i.e. avoiding the deep fry technique or raw meat method, are an easy way to avoid arterial clogging and cholesterol problem.
4. Antibiotic Resistance
Currently, there are reports that state that the chickens are given antibiotics in their feed or as injections. This is justified as beneficial to the poultry’s health and their yield. This means that the meat you consume may be heavily laced with antibiotics leading to an increased body resistance to oral or injectable antibiotics. The only way to avoid this is to ensure that your chicken meat comes from a place that does not introduce their chickens to antibiotics.
5. Arsenic in Feed
Research shows that chicken feeds are sometimes laced with small quantities of arsenic to kill bacteria or fungus. Thus, when the chicken eats the feed its meat also gets traces of arsenic in it. There may be a chance that the chicken meat you are consuming may have trace quantities of arsenic. Choose your meat grocer with special care towards where the meat comes from and their arsenic-related practices.
Comparison of the Meats : Fish, Chicken, and Beef!
Let’s take a look at the calorific and nutritional comparison of the commonly eaten meats. All values are for 100 grams of meat.
|Sr. No||Nutritional Value||Chicken /100g||Fish /100g||Beef /100g|
|1||Calorie||240 Cal||206 Cal||250 Cal|
|2||Omega 3 Fatty Acid||3 grams||22 grams||0.04 mg|
|3||Iron||1.3 mg||0.5 mg||2.6 mg|
|4||Sodium||82 mg||60 mg||72 mg|
|5||Cholesterol||85 mg||60 mg||90 mg|
|6||Zinc||1 mg||0.5 – 45 mg||6.31 mg|
The above table shows that fish is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids. Sea fish like oysters, crabs, and prawns are a good source of zinc. Fish are also effective in reducing cancer-risk, promoting improved concentration levels, and ensuring better a sleep pattern.
However, Chicken is the best source of protein and is a lesser source of fat compared to beef. It is also the best source of sodium; therefore, it ensures bone and muscle health, increased metabolism, and better focus.
Beef is the best source of iron and zinc. It is also the best source of energy and calories. It helps in increasing endurance and boosts immunity levels. However, it is not recommended for people at risk with cholesterol complaints.
How to get the best out of your chicken?
If chicken is cooked well with complimenting herbs and vegetables, it can fulfill the body’s nutritional needs with ease as well as help in weight loss. 100 grams of chicken is capable of providing close to 240 calories. Let’s look at a few healthy ways to cook chicken –
1. Chicken Soup
A broth of chicken is often recommended to lose weight, get your hunger satiated fast, and cure coughs or colds.
- ½ cup chopped onions
- 6 cloves of chopped garlic cloves
- 100 grams of diced boneless chicken
- 1-2 tablespoons of Olive oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Sauté the garlic in olive oil till light golden
- Add chopped onions and sauté till golden in color
- Add the chicken pieces and stir for 2 minutes
- Add 4-5 cups of water and let the liquid boil.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Continue to boil till 15 minutes at a low flame.
Enjoy the soup hot while it’s hot!
2. Chicken Tikka
Roasting or baking chicken tends to preserve the majority of its nutrition. This Chicken Tikka recipe is deliciously mouth-watering while keeping most of the goodness intact.
- 1 inch grated ginger
- 8-10 grated garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
- ¼ teaspoon dhaniya or coriander powder
- Pinch of turmeric or haldi powder
- 1 cup curd
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
- 2 diced chicken breasts
- Salt to taste
- Mix the dry ingredient with curd (beat well)
- Take chicken cubes in a bowl, massage grated ginger and garlic into the chicken for 15 minutes
- Add the spice mixed curd to the chicken, mix well, and refrigerate for 2 hours
- Take the refrigerated chicken and allow it to cool to room temperature.
- Cook in a convection oven for 30 minutes (or till the liquid evaporates) at 200 – 220°C, turning the pieces every 8-10 minutes for even cooking.
Serve hot with mint chutney!
3. Chicken Salad
Chicken breasts are a great source of proteins and low source of cholesterol. Cooking boneless chicken ensures that the fatty bits like the skin are not part of the meal; thereby, keeping the calorific quality of the meal in check. In this recipe, I suggest using chicken breasts.
- 1 cup diced boneless chicken
- ¼ cup diced red and yellow bell peppers
- ¼ cup shredded iceberg lettuce
- 1 cup parboiled broccoli
- 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup parboiled baby corn
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon mustard sauce
- 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Whip the 1 tablespoon olive oil with honey, mayonnaise and mustard sauce together to form a salad dressing
- Stir fry the chicken pieces for 5 minutes on a shallow flame till cooked
- Take the chicken and vegetables in a bowl, add salt and pepper to taste, mix well
- Mix the dressing into the bowl of salad, turn well.
Your diet-friendly, high fiber, nutritious salad is ready to eat!
Frequently Asked Questions About Eating Chicken
1. What is a free-range chicken?
Ans : Chickens that have access to an outdoor area to walk, graze, or forage at least once in a day are called Free-Range Chicken. These chickens can be inorganic or organic depending upon their feed quality. The meat and eggs yield from free-range chickens are reported to have better taste and nutritional value.
2. How much chicken should I eat?
Ans : Individual requirements of chicken vary with respect to age, gender, and state of health. However, research shows that you must consume 1 gram of protein per 1 Kg of weight. Therefore, if you weigh at 54 Kg then you must have 54 grams of proteins in your diet daily; this means that 100 grams of chicken only fulfills half of your daily protein needs and you need to consume 200 grams of chicken o meet your quota.
3. Can I lose weight by eating chicken?
Ans : Yes. Chicken is a great booster of metabolic rate; i.e. the calories required to digest it are more than calories it provides. It also helps in meeting other nutritional needs effectively as well. Eating properly cooked chicken in appropriate levels is stated to help a people lose weight.
Although eating chicken has certain risks associated with it, the pros far outweigh the cons. Consuming chicken in appropriate quantities ensures good bone health, improved brain health, increased focus & concentration, and improved sleep cycle. Making a conscious choice to consume chicken is a good way to lead a healthy life.