In the food industry chickens for food are referred to as broilers. People have been using this meat for centuries and today it is definitely the most popular protein source in our modern day diets.
Some nutritional facts might vary depending on the recipe you choose to prepare, for example the cholesterol level will be lower if a chicken is cooked with or without the skin. The preferable way is to choose a lean chicken breast and stir fry it with some vegetables. Now, let’s look at some of the various benefits.
White meat vs. red meat
Chicken fillets look whiter than beef and are often therefore considered to be healthier. Is that correct? The darker colour of beef is given by more myoglobin. This protein binds Oxygen and Iron which is important for blood flow and is present in slow twitch muscle fibres. On other hand chickens have mostly fast twitch fibres as their flying activity usually is short and intense. Although red meat contains slightly more calories, the difference is not that great in order to make someone change their preference towards white meat. Some micro-nutrients are also more common in red meat. The difference where chicken wins is the type of fat it contains. There are more unsaturated fats present then saturated, as well as cholesterol content is smaller if chicken is prepared without the skin.
Amino acids are the building blocks in our bodies. Whether you are a child, athlete or a house-wife you need protein. The recommendation for protein intake is approx. 0.8g for every kg of body weight. The beauty about protein rich food is that it helps suppress the appetite. Just recently we understood why. Along the portal vein’s walls which pumps blood from the gut are nerves which contain specific receptors – MORs (mu-opioid). Dietary protein stimulates these receptors and actually enhances appetite by signals sent to brain, however a signal from brain comes immediately back to intestines with an order to release glucose. This mechanism not just makes us feel full but also enhances the reuse of glucose in the body which we sometimes have too much. One question is still actual for scientists – how to control appetite with MOR receptors for longer time periods as too much protein in the diet can cause adverse effects.
Alternation of lipid profile
For already some time vitamin B3 (niacin) has been used in order to change people’s blood lipid profiles in order to reduce cardiovascular risks. Niacin blocks the breakdown of fats therefore reduces amounts of free fatty acids in the blood. Also the amounts of HDL (high density lipoproteins) increase. More recent studies scrutinize this effect on health and show that the risk of stroke might actually increase because these alterations to lipid profile.
However, B3 is essential for metabolic activities in cells and is responsible for repair of DNA. Deficiency of this vitamin might slower the metabolism and makes one more vulnerable to colds. In more severe cases B3 deficiency can result pellagra. Good vegetarian sources of B3 are dates, nuts and tofu.
Eating chicken will provide you also with B6 and B12. These vitamins are correlated with lower risk of mental illnesses such as depression. High level of B12 also might protect against brain atrophy in elderly and regulate allergen levels in the blood. Not without a reason pregnant women are advised to increase their B complex intake. As B6 has a diuretic effect (increase water excretion from body), therefore and is thought to reduce morning sickness and hangover. It has even been suggested that B6 increases the vividness of dreams.
Zinc is a mineral found in all enzyme classes, meaning that without it an organism would not function. While the role in reduction of cold symptoms maintains controversial, an adequate intake of Zinc is needed for a strong immune system. Alongside with claiming to have antioxidant properties it might reduce ageing effects and prevent tissue damage. Zinc is already being used for cure of age-related macular degeneration).
Benefits of Eating Chicken:
- A low fat animal protein source
- Protect against degeneration of tissues
- Might prevent several cancers
- Enhance mental health
- Lower blood pressure
- Strengthen immune system
- Contain anti-oxidants
- Help to regulate satiety
- Improve blood lipid profile
Note: It is strongly advised to cook chicken thoroughly and isolate it from foods which are not going to be heated. Heating process however will reduce the amount of nutrients in the chicken.