Perhaps one of the most popular and versatile proteins worldwide is chicken. Ranging from roasting, broiling, grilling, frying, poaching and sautéing, chicken meat can be cooked in a variety of ways and still turn out to be delicious. Fortunately, this yummy bird also contains many health benefits that are great for your body. Here are some facts and benefits about this beloved poultry.
Protecting The Cognitive System
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is found in high levels in chicken meat, and has been shown as an effective preventative measure against age-related cognitive decline. According to the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (JNNP), a regular intake of foods high in niacin, such as chicken, can protect the brain against Alzheimer's disease.
Help Prevent Cancer
Along with niacin, chicken is also rich in selenium, another antioxidant-rich nutrient. Selenium in chicken has been shown to induce DNA repair in damaged cells and eliminate abnormal cells. This nutrient also activates an important antioxidant vital in cancer prevention, known as glutathione peroxidase, from proteins. Consuming chicken may help in the prevention of cancers.
(To learn more about foods that help prevent cancer, read 10 Best Cancer-Fighting Foods For Your Diet.)
Great Source Of Protein
Chicken meat and chicken parts are very popular in the United States as an excellent source of protein. Chicken meat also tends to be a lot leaner than red meat, so it is a healthier source of protein. Protein is very important for building and repairing muscle tissues, as well as strengthening hair, skin, and preventing bone loss in the elderly. It also keeps your stomach feeling full for longer periods of time, so it can be an effective weight loss tool as it provides lean protein.
Interesting Health Facts About Chicken
- Chicken meat is the most common type of poultry eaten in the world.
- Chicken became a popular main dish on the dinner table in the U.S. during World War II due to a shortage of beef and pork.
- Raw chicken meat can be frozen for up to two years.
- Chicken meat has two to three times as much polyunsaturated fats, which are the "good" type of fat, than most types of red meat.
- Chicken is often considered to be one of the safest meat options for consumption, since very little side effects or allergic reactions are associated with its meat.
- Chicken innards such as liver, heart and gizzards are also nutritious and often consumed around the world.
Vitamins and Minerals in Chicken
Other than being a protein powerhouse, other vitamins and minerals chicken contains include:
- Tryptophan: This essential amino acid is important because it increases serotonin level in the brain and helps us sleep better. It also has antidepressant properties and can make us happier.
- Niacin: This vitamin is vital to the skin, digestive tract and nervous system, and research has shown it may help prevent Alzheimer's disease, help convert food to energy, and promote skin repair.
- Selenium: Known as an effective antioxidant, selenium can help in the prevention of cancer by repairing free radicals in the body. It also helps maintain normal thyroid functions and the immune system.
- Vitamin B6: This vitamin helps with the metabolism of protein and red blood cells, and may prevent heart diseases.
- Phosphorus: Phosphorus not only helps synthesize protein for the maintenance of cells and tissues, it also plays a role in the formation of bones and teeth.
Helpful Tips And Suggestions
Here are some suggestions and tips that may help you reap the maximum nutritional benefits of chicken:
- Chicken meat should always be cooked thoroughly prior to consumption, since raw chicken meat commonly has the Salmonella organism that can make you very sick if ingested. Be sure to wash all surfaces and hands that come in contact with raw chicken meat with soap and water.
- It is healthier to discard the skin prior to consumption, as chicken skin tends to be very fatty.
- It is healthier to consume hormone-free chicken, if the choice is possible.
- Chicken is sensitive to heat, so it is best to marinate or defrost chicken in the refrigerator rather than room temperature.
Chicken is such a widely available protein that it can be found on almost all non-vegetarian restaurant menus, as well as the deli and supermarket. In fact, four ounces of chicken meat fulfills roughly 68 percent of the daily recommended value for protein.