Chicken is popular all over the world since it’s one of the most versatile types of meat on the market. In the US alone, the industry produced about 44 billion pounds of meat in 2019, and the numbers are expected to increase since more people are interested in a healthy lifestyle.
But is poultry really the answer when you’re looking to improve your diet and get in shape?
As it turns out, besides being one of the less fatty meats out there (one 3-ounce serving has 122 calories and only 3g of fat), chicken also has plenty of benefits for our health. Therefore, in this piece, we will discuss the most important health benefits of eating poultry and why you should consider including it in your diet more often.
#1: Great Source of Nutrients
Chicken is a light and lean source of important nutrients for the human body such as selenium (necessary for proper immune function), phosphorus, Vitamin B6 and B12, Zinc, Copper, and more. It’s also a fantastic source of protein (essential for building and repairing tissue and muscle mass)
Chicken is also rich in B vitamins, which are needed for energy production and brain health, and beta-alanine (or simply put, alanine), an amino acid that is essential for muscular fitness. In fact, beta-alanine supplements are quite common among professional athletes and people who perform high-intensity activities since they help increase muscle resistance to fatigue and boost endurance. Learn more here about what Beta-Alanine does.
#2: Source of Lean Protein
Protein is an important element for our bodies as it participates in all cellular processes. Also, protein provides a source of energy and assists in cellular repair (like torn muscles or ligaments). It’s also involved in forming blood cells and plays a part in metabolic reactions and the immune response.
However, not every source of protein provides the same quality. For instance, the lean protein in chicken is among the best sources because it’s easy to integrate with the body’s processes. Additionally, according to recent studies, a high intake of quality protein sources helps maintain bone mineral density, which is extremely important as we age.
Therefore, chicken and poultry in general, make for an incredible source of protein and help you maintain stronger muscles and bones. Moreover, a diet rich in chicken meat may also be helpful in decreasing the risk of injury as we get older and the bones become less resistant to shock.
#3: The Go-To Weight Loss Food
If you only eat lean cuts, chicken meat is great for people who want to lose weight without losing muscle mass at the same time.
First of all, poultry meats (especially chicken and turkey) are rich in high-quality protein and low in fat. This means that you should feel full with a small portion (around 25-30g) and it goes extremely well with a side of vegetables, just in case you need a bit extra to feel full.
Additionally, if it’s accompanied by resistance training, a diet rich in chicken can promote muscle growth due to an increased protein and alanine intake.
In short, if you’re looking to lose weight but still want to be fit and continue your training, chicken and turkey must be part of your diet.
#4: Improved Mood
Chicken meat contains tryptophan, an amino acid known to increase serotonin production, which is the hormone that makes us feel good. Now, you won’t feel an instant boost in that feel-good sensation (chicken meat doesn’t have enough tryptophan for an instant reaction), but you can feel the effects in the long term.
Additionally, by eating healthier foods, you will feel a boost of energy, which can be useful during physical exercises. As a result, you will feel more motivated to work out, which also leads to a boost in those feel-good hormones.
Lastly, due to its low-fat content and high protein content, chicken meat is extremely useful during diets and helps reduce fat content (if combined with other low-fat ingredients). As a result, your mood will improve due to a visible slimmer waistline and better diet results.
#5: Promotes Brain and Heart Health
Another reason to include chicken in your diet comes from a recent study that proved it can help promote brain development in children. This happens due to its rich vitamin B12 and choline content (available in both dark and white meat). Additionally, the same combination was proven to help cognitive performance in older adults.
Additionally, a healthy diet that includes poultry meat can help lay the foundation for a healthy heart (chicken meat contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals) and helps you support a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.
Things to Pay Attention To
It’s important to keep in mind that not all types of chicken or poultry meat are created equal.
For instance, a diet rich in fried chicken or dishes that contain a lot of heavy sauces will not bring any of the benefits mentioned above. The same applies to breaded varieties such as nuggets, chicken tenders, fast-food wings – all these are foods filled with unhealthy fats, carbs, and calories.
ou should also stay away from lunch meats since these foods are heavily processed and contain high quantities of sodium. According to recent studies, the consumption of processed meat is directly linked with heart disease, some types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. So, by simply switching to highly processed poultry meat, you can undo all the benefits listed above.
The main thing to keep in mind after reading the benefits of chicken and poultry meat is that everything needs to be practiced in moderation. A healthy diet should contain a diverse array of meat, fruits, and vegetables and it should allow room for novelty and diversity.
Chicken is a fantastic ally in the fight against obesity and heart diseases, but it needs to be prepared correctly, in combination with other healthy foods. Otherwise, you won’t be able to reap the benefits and you may end up disappointed by the results.