The Nutritional Benefits of Chicken
Chicken nuggets, chicken caesar salad, chicken with cashew nuts, chicken and avocado sushi, chicken and mushroom rissoto…the list goes on. As you can see from these few examples, chicken is very versatile and can be used as the main component across many different types of cuisine. In this post, we talk all about chicken, looking at some of the nutritional benefits and how to select and store it so it’s best for cooking.
Health Benefits of Chicken
Chicken is a nutrient dense food in that has many nutrients, including protein, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, riboflavin and niacin.
- Important source of vitamins and minerals – Chicken’s not only a great source of protein and minerals too. For example, it is rich in Vitamin B which is known to prevent cataracts and skin disorders, boost immunity and improve the nervous system. It also comes in abundance of Vitamin D which helps in calcium absorption and bone strengthening; and Vitamin A which assists in building up eye sight.
- Weight loss – Diets with high levels of protein have been known to effectively reduce weight. Studies have shown significant weight control in people who regularly ate chicken.
- Control your cholesterol – The amount of saturated fat and cholesterol found in red meat such as beef, pork and lamb, is much higher than levels found in chicken.
Selection and Storage
- The colour of the chicken’s skin, white or yellow, does not have any bearing on its nutritional value. Regardless of color, the skin should be opaque and not spotted.
- When purchasing a whole chicken, look for ones that have a solid and plump shape with a rounded breast.
- Whether purchasing a whole chicken or chicken parts, the chicken should feel pliable when gently pressed, and it should not have an “off” smell.
- Chicken should be bought as fresh as possible, make sure to check the ‘used by’ date.
- Check packaging for any tears or broken seals and don’t buy it if it has been opened or damaged.
- If travelling long distances (between shop and home) keep it cool and fresh in an esky in the car.
- As soon as you get home, place raw chicken in the refrigerator as soon as possible, away from any cooked items you may have.
- Raw chicken should be placed on a lower shelf in the fridge, so that it doesn’t drip down and cross-contaminate with other foods.
- You can store chicken in the freezer for about 4 weeks/ 1month. Remember to never refreeze defrosted food.
Cooking chicken in a healthy way
Different parts of chicken have different levels of fat and cholesterol. The breast meat is the leanest with approx 28g containing just 1g of fat. This is followed by the chicken’s legs which has 2g of fat per every 28g.
- Grilled Chicken. When done properly, grilled chicken isn’t just healthy but tender and flavourful too. Use the indirect grilling method with the grill’s lid in place. You can also serve grilled veggies for your side dish.
- Poached Chicken. Poaching chicken requires no added fat. Use a boneless breast (with the skin removed) for the most versatility. Place your chicken piece/s in a large pot and cover it with water, wine, broth or a combination. You can also add in garlic, herbs, salt or peppercorns too.
- Steamed Chicken. Like poaching, steaming chicken requires no added fat. To steam your meat, simply place above, not in, boiling liquid – usually a covered stockpot contains a steamer insert or you can use your own steamer on top of any boiling pot.