Protein is key to the human diet, especially for younger people, because the body uses it to create new cells and maintain or repair existing cells. The body also uses protein to produce enzymes, which help catalyze processes such as digestion, metabolism and storage of fat. Chicken consists of high-quality protein (that is, protein that contains the eight essential amino acids) and a relatively low amount of fat. In addition, fat in chicken is mostly of the unsaturated type, which protects against heart disease. Thus, chicken is often recommended by physicians and nutrition counselors as an alternative to red meat (beef and especially pork), which typically has more fat and more saturated fat. Chicken breast without the skin has less fat than sirloin steak, pot roast, 80 or 90 percent lean hamburger, pork chops, or ham. Did you know?
- A serving of 100 grams (about three ounces) of cooked skinless, boneless breast has only one gram of saturated fat and less than four grams of total fat.
- 100 grams of skinless, boneless breast has 31 grams of protein – more than half the recommended daily allowance of 46 grams of protein for an adult female.
- Chicken is naturally low in sodium. Skinless, boneless has only 74 milligrams of sodium per three and a half ounce (100 gram) portion.
- Chicken is versatile in the kitchen – Hot or cold, it’s an easy ingredient in many ready- in- a- minute meals. Chicken is also a common ingredient among international cuisines, and readily absorbs the flavors of seasonings and spices. When your recipe calls for a meat that is too costly or not available, chicken is always a reliable substitute.
- When cooking plenty of food to have leftovers for future meals, nothing beats the ease of chicken. Leftover grilled or baked chicken prepared early in the week easily transitions to healthy meals such as cold chicken served over salad, or chicken salad mixed with reduced fat mayonnaise.