Chicken is the most commonly eaten poultry in the world. Despite its widespread popularity, however, many people know little or nothing about the nutritional value of chicken. In fact, chicken is a relatively low-fat meat choice, and is also a very good source of protein, vitamins B3 and B6, selenium, and phosphorus. Taking these features of the nutritional value of chicken into consideration, it seems that this bird can be a healthful dietary choice. It is important to remember, however, that the way in which chicken is prepared can significantly affect its fat, calorie, and cholesterol content.
One of the standout features of the nutritional value of chicken is a low fat content. A 1-cup (140 gram) serving of white chicken meat contains less than 10 percent of the recommended daily fat intake as determined by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). By comparison, an identical amount of ground beef can contain as much as 65 percent of the recommended daily fat intake.
In addition, chicken is rich in protein. This amino acid compound is a basic building block of all cells. Getting adequate protein through the diet is crucial to maintaining cell health and to assisting growth.
Another significant aspect of the nutritional value of chicken is its substantial vitamin B3 and vitamin B6 content. Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, serves a number of important purposes, including assisting in the function of the nervous and digestive systems. B6 is also a crucial vitamin. Some of its jobs include contributing to the production of red blood cells and the manufacture of antibodies.
Further, chicken is a good source of the minerals selenium and phosphorus. Selenium helps facilitate the production of certain antioxidant enzymes which can help the cells defend against harmful environmental molecules known as free radicals. Many researchers believe that antioxidants may slow the aging process and even reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Phosphorus contributes to the development and health of the skeletal system.
While the nutritional value of chicken may seem impressive, it is important to remember that the way in which this food is prepared can significantly affect its healthfulness. For instance, breaded, fried chicken, a popular dish in the US and parts of Europe, can contain extremely high levels of harmful saturated and trans fats. To reap the nutritional benefits of chicken, try to select white, skinless meat which has been prepared using a low-fat cooking method such as roasting.