Chicken is widely seen as health food, and it can be a great choice, but before you head over to Popeyes, be sure you have your chicken nutrition facts straight.¬† It’s easy to overdo it¬†with this seemingly¬†low fat, low calorie meat option, so, keep in mind a few tips, and you’ll reap¬† the benefits without over-indulging.
Chicken is a great source of¬†selenium (which helps prevent cancer, heart disease, regulate the thyroid, and help maintain a healthy immune system), niacin, for cholesterol production, vitamin B6 and phosphorus, helping maintain a healthy heart and aids in the repair, growth and maintenance of cells and tissues.¬†A four ounce serving (about the size of a deck of cards) of the breast, with the skin and bone removed, has about 165 calories, and 31 grams of protein.¬† Chicken is also low in sodium, so avoid store bought marinades. Don’t undo your careful eating!
Though the bone and skin impart flavor to a chicken breast, it also adds fat and calories. Fortunately, chicken is easy to marinate, picking up flavor quickly, so you can ditch the fatty skin¬†and trade it for other flavor. That said, marinate carefully!¬† Many marinades pack lots of fat and tons of sodium.¬† Try marinating a chicken breast in the juice of half a lemon, a few thinly sliced rings of white onion and some chopped parsley for 30 minutes before throwing it on the grill.¬† These Greek inspired flavors are fantastic with a side of grilled veggies, on salad, or with sliced tomato and cucumber in a whole wheat pita!¬†So kiss those store bought marinades and their weird ingredients good-bye, and keep your chicken healthy.
A chicken breast, probably the most common piece eaten, has 4 grams of fat in a 4 oz serving.¬†Compare it¬†to the same size filet, with 17grams of fat in the same size, and chicken doesn’t look so bad.¬† However, people tend to think that since chicken is so lean, that the portion size doesn’t matter.¬† Use caution when you are serving it up on your plate!¬† Eating the whole breast, depending¬†on the brand that you buy, could chalk up 3 or more servings!¬† Just think…cut it down and you’ll have lunch left tomorrow!
Shockingly, the cholesterol content of a 4 oz piece of chicken breast is actually 2 milligrams higher than that in a Porterhouse steak. So, you probably don’t want to be gnawing on a chicken breast at every meal, but the RDA is around 300mg, depending on gender and age.
When ordering chicken in a restaurant, be sure to find out how it’s prepared.¬† Some preparations can pile on the fat and calories, even if they are called grilled or sauteed. Ask if there is oil used to brown, or if butter is used¬†to make it shiny.
When it comes down to it, chicken sure IS something to cluck about!