Information about where our food comes from, where it is grown, whether it is organic or if GMOs have been involved seems to be something we are bombarded with nowadays. Which food is still healthy for you? Which food is no longer? Will it be different this week from the other?
Luckily for all of us, there are a few tried and true staples of food that seem to remain healthy to eat throughout the years. One of them is considered a traditional and classic source of needed protein, chicken. Of course, with today's markets, understanding and knowing where the chicken is sourced from, how it is raised, and how to pick helps—yet the health benefits of eating chicken remain.
What Makes Chicken Healthy?
Many of us know that chicken is considered healthier than other meats and that it is a great source of protein. But have you ever wondered why protein is so important in our diets, or what exactly is in chicken that makes it a healthier choice than others?
According to the information provided by the USDA for a single, 3-ounce serving of boneless, skinless, grilled chicken breast, it has:
- 128 Calories
- 7 grams of fat
- 44 milligrams of Sodium
- 0 Carbohydrates
- 0 Fiber
- 0 Sugars
- 26 grams of protein
Starting with the basics, why is protein so important in your diet? You see it mentioned time and time again in health articles, magazines, and diet recommendations reminding you to get enough protein. Protein is made of amino acids, which are more commonly known as building blocks as they are attached in long chains. Responsible for keeping your cells in good shape, they are also considered a macronutrient, meaning that you need to eat a relatively large amount of it to stay healthy.
- Build bones, muscles, cartilage, and skin. Your hair and nails are also mostly made of protein.
- Your body uses protein to build and repair tissue.
- Red blood cells contain a protein compound that carries oxygen throughout the body. This helps supply your entire body with the nutrients it needs to function.
- About half of dietary protein that is consumed by us daily goes into creating enzymes, which aids us in digesting food and creating new cells and body chemicals.
- Protein is a crucial part of hormone regulation, especially during the transformation and development of cells during puberty.
- Help with arthritis and Osteoporosis, aiding in resisting bone loss in senior years.
- Helps in lowering and controlling homocysteine levels, an amino acid that causes cardiovascular disease if levels are left high in the body.
When it comes to carbs, chicken breasts contain no sugar or starch (as long as they aren't prepared with breading) so they have 0 carbohydrates, and the estimated glycemic load of a chicken breast is also 0. As for fat, a skinless, boneless chicken breast contains only a small amount, less than 3 grams on average, and is mostly unsaturated fat. If you decide to cook or eat skin-on chicken, the fat, calories, and protein counts will be higher.
And of course, eating healthy proteins will help you feel full and feel full for longer, which means chicken can help reduce food cravings and prevent overeating.
Chicken breast is also an excellent source of selenium, phosphorus, tryptophan, vitamin B6, and niacin.
Selenium that we have in our body is almost all from our diet, and it is used to assist many body processes to work correctly while appearing to increase the action of antioxidants. Antioxidants are extremely useful in protecting our cells from damage. Phosphorus's main function is in the formation of bones, teeth, and plays an essential role in how our bodies use carbohydrates and fats. Vitamin B6 may play a role in mood improvements, and our bodies cannot produce the vitamin on its own. B6 also has been linked to assisting in brain performance as well. Niacin is a B vitamin made and used by your body to turn food into energy and helps your nervous system, digestive system, and keeps your skin healthy.
It turns out there is a lot of reasons as to why grandmas and moms around the world believe chicken soup is good for you and why it may be the default offering when we aren't feeling well. Chicken, like turkey, is high in the amino acid called tryptophan and that can often give us a comforting feeling after consuming it.
Getting the Most Health Benefits from Chicken
With all the above benefits, it's easy to see why chicken is such a favorite. But like any source of nutrients, where the chicken comes from and how it is raised can also influence the quality of your chicken. Surprisingly, how a chicken is raised and treated does affect the quality and health benefits of the cut of meat. So how do you know you're getting the healthiest piece of chicken for you?
- Buy from a reputable butcher or market. A good butcher should be able to tell you exactly where their chicken comes from and have the valuable sources of information you need.
- If at the supermarket, always check the label closely. Never purchase chicken that has been "enhanced" with a sodium solution. Keep in mind, the word "natural" on the label doesn't guarantee a non-enhanced product.
- Look for these labels to ensure you're eating the healthiest: Certified Humane or USDA Organic seals for chicken will have the most health benefits to you.
At Wholey's, we celebrate all things delicious and wholesome. It's why we only carry the top-quality chicken, such as Certified Humane Gerber's Amish Farm chicken breasts and a wide array of chicken cuts of the freshest, best variety. We deliver right to your door, expertly packed and ready for you to cook without the effort of having to search for it from store to store.