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 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.
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.
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.