Chicken is one of the most popular types of meat in America; Americans consume nearly twice the amount of chicken than beef and pork. A lot of chicken’s popularity has to do with how widely available it is, how easy it is to prepare, and how versatile it can be.
It has also been known to be a more health-conscious meat choice, but do you know why it’s so good for you? The are several health benefits of chicken that make it a great choice. The health benefits also have to do with what cut of chicken you eat, and how it is prepared. We’ll get into that later.
We’ll cover all the great health benefits of chicken, as well as what preparation styles you should avoid. We’ll also show you the healthy ways we serve chicken at all of our Florida and Oklahoma 3Natives locations.
Helps Build and Maintain Stronger Bones and Muscles
Chicken is full of lean protein and is one of the healthiest protein sources out there. Lean protein is an excellent source of amino acids; amino acids help our bodies build muscle tissue. Consuming chicken can help active people build muscle mass in a healthy way, and it can also help prevent losses in muscle mass. Research has shown that losses in muscle mass are directly associated with mortality rates in older people.
It has also been shown that a high protein intake, like the protein in chicken, helps maintain bone mineral density. Protein works with calcium to help protect bones and to keep them healthy. A good protein intake strengthens bones and can help prevent osteoporosis later in life.
Weight Management Support
The lean protein in chicken does so much more than support muscle mass and bone health. It can also help support weight management and weight loss. The more protein a meal has, the fuller we will feel after it.
A meal rich in high-quality protein means we can feel fuller even when eating less. This can prevent us from overeating and gaining unhealthy weight. A small study showed that those participants who ate more protein showed improved appetite control.
A healthy weight also means better heart health. Increasing foods that are a good source of lean protein can reduce your risk for heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar.
On top of the amino acids that help build muscle mass, chicken also contains the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is linked to higher levels of serotonin, which can improve our moods. It should be noted that the tryptophan levels in chicken aren’t high enough to make you instantly happy, but chicken can boost serotonin levels when paired with other factors.
If somebody has low levels of serotonin, then they may experience symptoms of depression or struggle with memory.
Chicken is Nutritious and Full of Vitamins and Minerals
We already know that chicken is a good source of lean protein, but it also contains many other vitamins and minerals that can improve your quality of life. Here are some of the important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that chicken contains:
- B12: Helps keep your body’s blood and nerve cells healthy and helps make DNA
- Tryptophan: Helps make melatonin and serotonin
- Choline: Can boost memory function and improve brain development
- Zinc: Helps the immune system and metabolism function
- Iron: Needed to produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body
- Copper: Helps form collagen and helps maintain healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, and immune function
- Vitamin D: Helps the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus
- Selenium: Helps support the healthy functioning of your body, including your metabolism, immune system, and thyroid function
- Phosphorous: Helps keep bones and teeth strong and healthy
How to Prepare Chicken
As mentioned before, chicken is a popular meat because of the variety of ways you can prepare it. It’s a very versatile meat. But not every preparation method is created equal. Some preparation types are full of nutritional benefits, and some are unhealthy.
Healthy Ways to Prepare Chicken
At its core, chicken is a healthy meat, so it is best to prepare it in a healthy way to not diminish all of its benefits. These are some of the healthier ways to prepare chicken:
- Grilling: Grilled chicken is a flavorful and simple way to get the health benefits of chicken. It can be prepared as a full piece, or as a kebob.
- Baking: Baked chicken is another easy way to cook chicken. It’s good for weeknight dinners as you can just put the chicken in the oven and not have to watch over it.
- Pan frying: Pan-fried chicken can easily be done in a pan with a little oil. It’s a flavorful way to enjoy chicken without breading it. You can even pan-fry it with some vegetables to add flavor.
Unhealthy Ways to Prepare Chicken
Some of the most popular ways we eat chicken are considered unhealthy. While these options can taste great, we don’t recommend eating them often. These are some of the unhealthy ways to prepare chicken:
- Frying: Fried chicken is considered unhealthy because it is both breaded and deep fried. It’s high in carbs and saturated fats.
- Rotisserie: Rotisserie chicken that you buy at a grocery store is full of salt. These chickens are brined and heavily seasoned as well.
- Lunch meat: Chicken lunch meat is very processed. Deli meat is filled with added sodium and unhealthy preservatives.
Other Things to Look Out For
Some people can be allergic to poultry, although it is rare. Just because you’re allergic to one type of meat doesn’t mean you’re allergic to all meat. Those that are allergic usually have issues with raw chicken and turkey.
The USDA also recommends that you limit your chicken consumption to 2.5 ounces to 6 ounces a day. Physically active people may need to eat more.
Chicken still contains a small amount of cholesterol even though it is a lean protein. With that being said, it still contains less cholesterol than red meat. It is a healthier option for people trying to keep their cholesterol low.
Enjoy Delicious Chicken Dishes at 3Natives
There are so many great ways to enjoy the health benefits of eating chicken, and at 3Natives, we have several delicious menu items that include chicken: Thai chicken salad, curry chicken salad, chicken caesar wrap, and southwest wrap are just some of the options. Check out our full menu to see what else we have!
Whether you want a fresh salad, a wrap, or even a hot wrap, we have something for everybody. Stop in at your local 3Natives in Florida or Oklahoma and enjoy delicious and nutritious chicken dishes.