Chicken meat: properties and benefits

Chicken and other poultry meat can be included in the weekly menu of the whole family, as it is a nutritious food and its consumption can be positive for health.

Written and verified by the nutritionist Anna Vilarrasa on October 31, 2021.

Last update: October 31, 2021

The consumption of chicken meat has been oscillating over time. A few decades ago it was an occasional delicacy and today it is one of the most consumed animals in the world, second only to pigs. This is due, in large part, to its availability and the many ways that exist to prepare it.

Whole, chopped, breaded, roasted, grilled or with sauce … These are some of the most common ways to enjoy it. Nevertheless, far from being a staple of everyday life, it should also be valued as a quality and healthy product. Discover in detail its properties and possible health benefits.

What are the properties of chicken meat?

The general recommendation is to choose chicken breast for more protein and less fat.

Chicken meat is considered to be meat that comes from roosters or young hens slaughtered between 5 and 16 weeks of age. The approximate weight of the whole pieces is usually 1 to 3 kilos.

Chicken meat is light, high in protein and low in fat. In addition, it provides interesting vitamins and minerals. It is classified as a type of lean meat, but for this it is essential and advisable to remove the skin.

At the nutritional level, it is interesting to highlight the following aspects:

  • Its proteins are of high biological value. This means that they provide all the essential amino acids that the body is not able to manufacture and in the ideal amounts.
  • It has a lower amount of saturated fat than red meat and other processed meats. What’s more, in chicken, the established lipids such as omega 6 and omega 3 stand out. However, this last type of amino acids is only present in those specimens raised in corral or fed with vegetable feed.
  • Source of vitamins of group B. Of special interest is vitamin B12 (which is only found in foods of animal origin), B3 (niacin) and B6.
  • It contains small amounts of some minerals such as iron, zinc or selenium. Too is a prominent source of phosphorus and the sodium it contributes to the diet is almost negligible.

Benefits derived from the consumption of chicken

All these properties of chicken meat make it a suitable food for a healthy diet. Its consumption has been analyzed in many epidemiological studies around the world. The results show a positive relationship between free-range meat (as part of a healthy diet) and good health markers.

Easily digestible protein source

Chicken meat is recommended for everyone. However, given its contribution of essential amino acids and its great digestibility is of special interest on some occasions, particularly for athletes and people with great physical activity, the elderly, children and adolescents.

Protein is essential for building and repairing tissue, and maintaining muscle mass. A deficiency in this can cause growth retardation, anemia, physical weakness or impaired immunity.

Chicken meat and body weight

Introducing foods that provide protein such as chicken meat is positive in managing body weight and it can help in weight loss diets.

The existing research to date indicates that a higher intake of this component promotes thermogenesis and satiety compared to diets with lower percentages. Likewise, the evidence highlights that the presence of protein in meals leads to a reduction in subsequent intakes.

Cardiovascular benefit

According to an article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, substituting red meat in the diet for other sources of protein such as chicken, fish or nuts can be an effective strategy to reduce coronary risk. For this reason, it is essential to differentiate between these two types of meat.

Cholesterol, heme iron or saturated fats (present in red and processed meat) are involved in blood pressure, arterial dysfunction or insulin resistance, risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Source of nutrients in pregnancy

Chicken meat contributes to improving the quality of the diet in some specific conditions. One of them is during pregnancy and lactation, which it can affect the health of both mother and baby.

Poultry is a good source of some of the key nutrients in this period. These are, for example, the B vitamins (B12, B6 and folic acid), polyunsaturated fatty acids and some minerals (iron and phosphorus).

Immune system and skin

Zinc is a trace element necessary for the proper functioning of the body and good health. It helps the immune system to fight bacteria and viruses, it is necessary to make proteins and DNA, and it contributes to better wound healing.

Chicken meat uses and how to present it

Chicken meat is healthy and very versatile in the kitchen.

Chicken meat is very nutritious, tasty and digestible. For this reason, it is suitable for all people. Both the thigh and the breast are recommended parts as long as the skin and visible fat are removed.

Being a perishable product and sensitive to microorganisms, it is necessary to maximize hygiene measures during storage and handling. What’s more, at the time of cooking it is essential to cook evenly up to the inside of the piece and that it is not raw.

Beyond grilled chicken, there are other ways to cook chicken meat in a healthy way. We leave you a list of ideas that can serve as inspiration in your day to day.

  • Roast in the oven with spices, lemon juice and mustard. It can also be garnished with other seasonings like a little Parmesan cheese, paprika, and breadcrumbs.
  • Breaded and roasted steaks in the oven.
  • Grilled accompanied by roasted apple and poached onion.
  • Diced it is an ideal ingredient for multiple salads: with mango and avocado, with arugula, with apple and celery or the famous Caesar salad.
  • Also in dice it is perfect for making skewers. They can be served alternately with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and mozzarella.
  • Sautéed wok with vegetables and a touch of soy sauce.
  • Whole chicken casserole with peppers, onion and aubergines.

Incorporate chicken meat into your diet

Chicken meat is a nutritious and very versatile food; For this reason, it is advisable to use it as one of the protein sources of animal origin of preference (along with fish and eggs).

To make the most of your strengths, it is interesting to acquire chickens from non-intensive breeding and fed with grain (whenever possible). The higher quality of these is reflected not only in the nutritional profile but also in the taste and texture.

During the purchase it is essential not to break the cold chain, refrigerate as soon as possible and if it is not going to be consumed in 1 or 2 days, keep in the freezer. At this temperature, it can be stored for about 9 months.

Finally, it is interesting to remember that a single food does not convert a diet into a healthy eating pattern. A) Yes, It is advisable to combine the intake of chicken meat with other sources of protein, both vegetable and animal. Also, respect the recommended daily amounts and accompany vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats.

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