Combined with herbs and spices, whether roasted, broiled, grilled or poached, chicken is both an extremely versatile and delicious food. Apart from that, chicken also has some great health benefits.
The following guide will explain just why chicken makes a healthy addition to your diet, and also give you some of the top tips to make the best buy for your chicken recipes.
The Main Health Benefits of Chicken
Chicken is an excellent source of protein, which is essential to the bone structure of human beings - just 4 ounces will provide 67.6% of the daily protein value that your body needs.
Proteins found in meats can be high in cholesterol and fats, whereas chicken not only has less than half the fat of a trimmed Choice grade T-bone steak, it contains less unhealthy saturated fat than beef. Bear in mind however that the skin of chicken doubles its amount of saturated fat, so for health reasons you really want to serve your tasty chicken recipes without it.
Chicken is an excellent source of the cancer-protective B vitamin called Niacin. Components of human DNA require Niacin to function correctly, so a deficiency of this can cause genetic damage. A four-ounce serving of chicken will provide your body with 72% of its daily value for Niacin.
This tasty bird is also a good source of the trace mineral Selenium, which is fundamentally important to human health, including thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defence systems and the immune system. Scientific research has shown a strong correlation between correct Selenium intake and cancer prevention. Four ounces of chicken will supply 40% of the daily recommended intake of Selenium.
Alzheimer's and Age-Related Cognitive Decline
Research has shown that regular consumption of Niacin-rich foods like chicken also provides protection against Alzheimer's disease and other age-related cognitive decline. It has also revealed that those who get a 22 mg per day dose of Niacin are 70% less likely to develop Alzheimer's than those consuming only13 mg daily, plus the rate of age-related cognitive decline was significantly reduced.
Chicken is not only a great source of vitamin B6, it contains a mix of B-complex vitamins that support energy metabolism in the body. Vitamin B6 has also been proven to play a key role in cardiovascular health as it prevents damage to blood vessel walls. Four ounces of chicken will supply 32% of your daily needs for vitamin B6.
Buying the Best Chicken
When shopping for a whole chicken, look for one that has a solid, plump shape with a rounded breast. Even when buying chicken parts, the flesh should feel pliable when gently pressed. The colour of the chicken's skin, which can be white or yellow, does not have any bearing on its nutritional value. Regardless of its colour however, the skin should be opaque and not spotted.
To state the obvious, never buy any meat that has an "off" smell, and do not buy chicken if the sell-by date has expired. If you're purchasing a frozen chicken, make sure that it's frozen solid and does not have any ice deposits or freezer burn. Also, keep an eye out for chicken that has frozen liquid in the package, as this could indicate that it's been defrosted and refrozen, which is a definite health risk.
It's always a good idea to choose chicken that has been organically raised or that is "free-range" because these methods of poultry raising are more humane as well as produce chickens that are tastier and better for your health. Non-organically grown chickens may have been have been fed hormones or antibiotics which you want to steer clear of. Free-range chickens are allowed access to the outdoors as opposed to being confined to the henhouse, so they will certainly have lived a happier life.
Another tip is instead of buying skinned chicken breasts for less fat content, go for those with the skin still intact and remove it yourself after cooking. This will ensure the chicken is kept moist and succulent.
Chicken is light on the stomach, fabulously versatile and very tasty, without you needing to be an expert in the kitchen. As described above, it also has some very good health benefits. These days, you can find some exceptional yet easy Chicken Recipes online to impress your friends and family.