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Chicken: Good or bad?

Nutrition, benefits, and tips

Chicken is often a go-to choice for many, but its health benefits can be a topic of debate. This article will break down the pros and cons of consuming chicken to help you understand if it's a fit for your diet.

Is it healthy?
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Is chicken healthy? Nutrition, benefits, and tips
Last updated on January 9, 2024, and last reviewed by an expert on October 4, 2023.

Chicken is a favorite meat choice for many.

Is chicken healthy? Nutrition, benefits, and tips

It’s easily available, versatile in recipes, and found in numerous dishes worldwide.

But, you might wonder about its health benefits.

This article dives into the pros and cons of consuming chicken, helping you decide if it’s a healthy option for you.

In this article

What’s in chicken? Nutrition facts about chicken

Chicken packs a punch when it comes to essential nutrients like protein, niacin, selenium, and phosphorus.

Here’s what you get in a 3-ounce (85-gram) chicken breast serving:

Protein stands out as it’s crucial for tissue repair and sustaining muscle strength.

On top of that, selenium, a lesser-known mineral, is vital for immune strength, thyroid balance, and fertility.

Also, chicken has a good dose of B vitamins, especially niacin and vitamins B6 and B12. These are key for energy, DNA building, and brain well-being.

Summary: Chicken is brimming with essential nutrients, like protein, niacin, selenium, and phosphorus.

Why eat chicken? Benefits of chicken

Chicken is nutrient-dense, making it a smart choice for a balanced diet.

It’s not just low in calories but also high in protein, which can be handy if you’re trying to shed some pounds.

Research suggests that upping your protein intake can make you feel full longer, assist in weight reduction, and help keep your muscles lean.

Coupled with exercises like weight lifting, protein from chicken can boost muscle development.

Additionally, protein plays a role in managing calcium, crucial for keeping your bones strong.

Summary: Chicken is nutritious, packed with protein, and can help with weight management, muscle building, and bone strengthening.

Chicken’s potential downsides and drawbacks

While chicken is a staple for many, not all chicken dishes are equally nutritious.

How many calories in chicken? Breast, thigh, wing and more
Suggested read: How many calories in chicken? Breast, thigh, wing and more

For instance, fried options like chicken nuggets, popcorn chicken, and tenders often come with more unhealthy fats, carbs, and calories.

Some chicken varieties are also overly processed, think lunch meats.

Studies indicate that eating processed meats might increase your risk of ailments like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.

These processed options usually pack more sodium and preservatives.

Cutting down on sodium has proven benefits for reducing blood pressure, particularly for those already experiencing hypertension.

Moreover, certain preservatives in these processed meats, like nitrites, could lead to the development of harmful, cancer-causing compounds.

Summary: While chicken is loved by many, choices like fried and processed varieties might not be the healthiest, and consuming them can come with potential risks.

Best ways to cook chicken, and healthy preparations

Chicken can be made in various ways, with some methods being healthier than others.

Here are some top healthy picks:

Summary: For a healthier chicken experience, consider grilling, baking, or stir-frying it.

Unhealthy preparations: Chicken dishes to think twice about

While chicken is a staple for many health-conscious individuals, not all preparations are equally beneficial.

Suggested read: Are egg noodles healthy? Benefits & downsides

Here are a few chicken varieties that might not be the best choices:

Summary: Be cautious with fried chicken, store-bought rotisserie chicken, and chicken lunch meat when aiming for a healthier diet.

How to consume chicken wisely and eating tips

Chicken can be a nutritious protein source for many diets.

Aim for a serving size of 3–4 ounces (85–113 grams), which is about the size of a deck of cards.

Always go for healthier preparation methods such as baking, grilling, stir-frying, or steaming.

Remember, chicken is just one of many protein sources. Mix it up with fish, other meats, poultry, and legumes to ensure a well-rounded nutrient intake.

Summary: Aim for moderate servings of chicken and prioritize healthier cooking methods. Also, diversify your protein sources for a balanced diet.

Summary

Chicken boasts numerous essential nutrients that promote health.

Yet, the key is choosing the right type of chicken and cooking it in a health-conscious manner, like baking or grilling, instead of deep frying.

Above all, include chicken in a diverse diet, complemented by other protein-rich foods for optimal health benefits.

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