Chicken is a common and readily available white meat of the modern day. In addition to its availability, chicken meat is also easily processed to create a wide range of packed products and meals which feature prominently in various stores as well as fast-food restaurants across the country. Further, chicken dishes are also easy to prepare. Therefore, most homes include chicken in their recipes to prepare meals ranging from simple chicken sandwiches to more complex dishes such as oven roast.

Nutritionists cite many health benefits of consuming chicken. Similarly, toxicologists and public health professionals raise significant concerns arising from the breeding of chicken; some processes render the meat unhealthy. Animal production experts have also evaluated the production chain trying to answer the question; ‘is chicken healthy?’. This article delves into the health benefits as well as dangers of consuming chicken meat to help the reader make informed choices in regards to diet and to answer the question “is chicken healthy.”

chicken wings on a cutting board with vegetables

How Do They Portion Chicken Meat?

The chicken meat is prepared in the form of cuts which include thighs, wings, breast, and drumsticks. Other parts of the chicken that are consumed include gizzards, heart, and liver.

In a bid to answer the question “is chicken healthy,” one needs to be well informed on the nutritional constituents of chicken meat. The nutritive value of chicken is high, as the meat is rich in protein, fat, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium.

In most parts of the world, chicken is first cooked before consumption while in some parts of Asia, uncooked and semi-cooked chicken is considered a delicacy. Chicken can be reared organically or conventionally. Conventionally, chicken is bred in large numbers where automation and use of chemicals to boost growth is applied.

Is Chicken Healthy? Reasons Why It Is Not

  1. Chicken meat causes antibiotic resistance in humans. Antibiotic resistance in humans seems to be directly related to the use of antibiotics in poultry production. Antibiotics such as cephalosporin are injected into eggs to prevent infection in hatchlings. Continuous consumption of foods laced with antibiotics can provoke antibiotic resistance.
  2. Chicken meat is occasionally contaminated with fecal matter. Fecal contamination of the skin and muscles of chicken is typically impractical to remove during high-speed processing. Pathogens such as E. coli or Salmonella, present in fecal matter, cling on to the meat during the meat processing stage causing diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.
  3. Chicken meat may contain the toxic compound, arsenic. Consumption of conventional chicken products, as well as meat, has been found to cause significant incidences of cancer, dementia, and neurological problems often attributed to the toxic properties of arsenic. Arsenic is a chemical fed to chicken to increase their rate of growth.
  4. Over-consumption of fatty chicken meat may cause obesity. Excessive consumption of the fat found in the skin of the chicken and also fatty chicken in itself has been shown to cause increased weight gain. Increased weight gain is associated with obesity.
  5. High levels of campylobacter are found in whole chicken. Campylobacter is the leading cause of food poisoning in the United States. Hence, the general populace suffers if they consume chicken containing campylobacter.
  6. Avian flu is transmitted through poultry, including chicken. Chicken bred in crowded and unsanitary conditions may cause a spread of bird flu. Avian flu has hit the news in recent times, and in some cases, improperly cooked chicken has been shown to exacerbate the spread of the disease.

Is Chicken Healthy? Reasons Why It Is (or Should Be)

  1. Chicken meat lowers cholesterol. Consuming chicken meat is known to decrease levels of Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol. Chicken meat also contains polyunsaturated fat at two or three times of that found in red meat. Polyunsaturated fat helps reduce the risk for heart disease.
  2. Chicken meat is rich in protein. 100g of chicken contains 18g of protein, making chicken meat an excellent source of amino acids. Amino acids are the constituent building blocks of muscles. Children, pregnant women, athletes, and convalescent individuals can benefit immensely from consumption of chicken meat in their daily diet.
  3. Chicken meat lowers the risk of cancer. Non-vegetarians who consume high levels of red meat are often susceptible to colorectal cancer. In contrast, individuals who consume chicken are at a lower risk of colorectal cancer than those who consume red meat.
  4. Consuming chicken meat is a weight loss remedy. High protein diets are known to aid in weight loss. Essentially, protein causes the stomach to feel fuller; making chicken an ideal food for weight control owing to its high protein content.
  5. Chicken meat controls blood pressure. Low-fat dietary products such as lean chicken meat are useful in controlling hypertension. Due to the high saturated fat content, chicken meat reduces the chances of clogging of the arteries and also prevents an elevated blood pressure.
  6. Chicken meat aids in preventing cataract and skin disorders. Essential minerals and vitamins such as magnesium, potassium, zinc, and vitamin D, are often found in chicken. Such minerals are good for the vitality of the skin. Vitamin D is especially useful in boosting immune function. A boosted immune system also leads to healthier skin.

Summing Up

In the attempt to answer the question, “is chicken healthy?” it is imperative to get information from reputable sources. The benefits of a high-protein, easily available, meat source cannot be overlooked. Chicken is rich in protein, contains significant levels of important minerals and vitamins, lowers cholesterol, is important in weight loss routines, and also aids in blood pressure control. Therefore, such benefits make it a valuable addition to the diet. Concerns about chicken consumption mainly arise due to the production process. The presence of arsenic and antibiotics is detrimental to human health. However, research shows that organic chicken is healthier than conventionally bred chicken.

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