Chicken, the most common type of poultry in the world, is so popular for good reason.
And that reason is not just taste, but also its many health benefits. Hold on, is eating chicken really healthy? Of course it is!
Yes, chickens, when bred in cramped and unhygienic farms, can be unhealthy–as a recent study has shown. But chicken still remains a healthy, lean-meat form, with a high nutritional value.
By design, working to make your muscles bigger and stronger is hard work. To successfully navigate the cycle of stress/recovery/growth, your muscles need all the help they can get. One way to accelerate that cycle is to eat the right amount of the right food at the right time. Enter the chicken breast.
Loaded with protein and other less-celebrated nutritional gems, this white-meat wonder is convenient, versatile, and low in fat. It’s no surprise that it’s the most common muscle-building food found on dinner plates of gym rats everywhere. Yet, day after day of the same old grilled chicken breast can make even the most die-hard bird-lover want to fly the coop.
With a higher protein-to-fat ratio (19:1) than any other part of the chicken, the breast is a great source of lean protein. And its protein quality ranks right up there with other heavyweights like eggs and beef, meaning it’s easily synthesized to repair muscle tissue and other cells damaged during hard training. But there’s more than just protein under those feathers: A 6-ounce chicken breast provides about 187 calories, 40 grams of protein, zero carbs and only 2 grams of fat along with a host of other bodybuilding-friendly nutrients.
Niacin is essential for the conversion of protein, fat and carbohydrate into usable energy, and one chicken breast contains more than the recommended daily allowance of niacin. In other words, it can help you push more weight around in the gym and stay on the treadmill longer.
Vitamin B6 allows you to use carbs (glycogen) stored in your muscles during exercise.
Iron is needed to deliver oxygen to those same muscles when you’re training in overdrive.
Selenium repairs damaged cells and inhibits the growth of cancerous ones, helping to lower your risk of cancer. It also aids in proper thyroid function, which in turn helps keep your metabolism revving – another good reason to use chicken breast as a primary protein source when dieting.
Zinc is an immune-boosting mineral that can ward off cold bugs and support the production of anabolic hormones.
More benefits of eating chicken
Body weight maintenance
With chicken being an excellent source of high quality protein, it helps in maintaining body weight especially for obese people. Adequate protein quantities would mean that your stomach stays full leaving no scope for binge eating. Including chicken two to three times in a week is not a bad idea, however, ensure to cook it in a healthy way.
Have you ever seen a healthy plate of food without some chicken? The reason chicken is always included in a healthy diet is because it is basically a lean meat, which means it doesn’t have much fat. So, eating chicken regularly can actually help you lose weight in a healthy way.
Although grilled chicken breast is fairly low in calories, it’s packed with lean protein, which is beneficial when you’re trying to shed pounds. A 3-ounce chicken breast provides 19 grams of dietary protein. Increasing protein in your diet boosts satiety and your body’s energy expenditure, according to a 2014 study in the journal “Nutrition and Metabolism.” This means protein causes you to feel full from fewer calories and helps your body burn extra calories.
Since selenium is present in good quantities, consuming chicken would mean increase in metabolism rates especially the thyroid hormone, antioxidant defence system and immune function of the body.
Protection from cancer.
You heard it right! Chicken is rich in niacin, a particular kind of Vitamin B that guards the body against cancer and other genetic complications.
Strong bones and healthy teeth
The protein content in chicken helps in decreasing bone loss. Bone loss is a major concern for women (aged 30 and above) and the geriatric population. Consuming 100gms of chicken breast would be sufficient in fulfilling half of your daily protein intake. Furthermore, the phosphorus in chicken helps in maintaining healthy teeth, bones, and ensures proper functioning of kidneys, liver and the central nervous system.
Apart from protein, chicken is also chock full of calcium and phosphorous. Both these minerals help keep your bones healthy. Eating chicken regularly also cuts the risk of arthritis.
Do you know what ingredients help reduce stress? It’s tryptophan and vitamin B5. And chicken has a good dose of both of these. Chicken is also full of magnesium, which relieves PMS symptoms. So overall, eating chicken can actually help you lead a life without stress.
Have you ever wondered why doctors recommend chicken soup as a part of your recovery meals, whether you have a cold or a flu? It’s because chicken helps bolster immune cells in the body, while the steam from the soup clears the nasal passages. Eating chicken in the form of soup is the best way to recover from most infections and colds.
You just have to admit that eating chicken has lots of health benefits, and the taste isn’t half bad either. But of course, eating hybrid chicken or deep-fried variants won’t do you as much good as other forms might.
The amount of protein-rich foods, including chicken breast, you should eat for weight loss depends on your weight-loss calorie needs. The publication “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010” suggests eating 3 ounces of protein foods, such as chicken breast, daily when eating 1,200 calories a day, 4 ounces when following a 1,400-calorie meal plan and 5 ounces of protein foods when eating 1,600 calories daily. The Institute of Medicine suggests it’s safe for adults to get up to 35 percent of their calories from protein, which is 105 grams of protein when eating 1,200 calories daily, 122.5 grams when consuming 1,400 calories and 140 grams of protein when following a 1,600-calorie meal plan.