Thursday, August 29, 2013
Chicken is a good source of protein. Photo Credit chicken lean meat image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com
Chicken is a healthy addition to a well-balanced diet because it is lower in fat and calories than other types of meat and contains nutrients that are important for overall health. The breast of a chicken is most often used in low-fat and low-calorie recipes, but thighs make a good alternative. Whichever cut you choose, removing the skin will reduce the amount of fat in your meal.
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Fat and Calories
If you are trying to keep your fat intake down, chicken breast is the better choice because it contains less than the thigh. One cup of cooked chicken breast contains 5 g of fat compared to the 15 g in the chicken thigh. A diet that limits fat is one that reduces your risk of developing heart disease. In addition, a lower fat content results in less calories; 231 for chicken breast versus 293 for the thigh. Keeping your calorie intake moderate allows you to lose weight or maintain your current number.
Including good sources of protein in your daily diet is important for your skin, nails, hair, muscles and cells. Ten percent to thirty-five percent of your calorie intake should consist of protein, which equates to 50 g to 175 g per day for a 2,000-calorie diet. One cup of roasted chicken breast contains about 43 g of protein while the same amount of roasted chicken thigh has 36 g, making both a good option for helping you reach these goals.
Meat, including both chicken breasts and thighs, is a good source of iron. Iron is a nutrient that your body needs to efficiently move oxygen through your blood and to your organs. A deficiency in iron could result in anemia, which is characterized by fatigue and weakness. A cup of cooked chicken breast has about 1.5 mg of iron and a cup of cooked chicken thigh has nearly 2 mg of iron. Iron is absorbed better by your body when eaten in combination with vitamin C. Try marinating your chicken in orange juice to add vitamin C to your meal.
One cup of roasted chicken breast contains close to 1.5 mg of zinc, but the same amount of roasted thigh meat contains about 3.5 mg. Getting adequate amounts of zinc in your daily diet allows your body to fight the viruses and bacteria that cause illness, aids in the development of DNA and cells, heals wounds and contributes to your sense of taste and smell.
Niacin is one of the B vitamins and it helps your body use the energy from the foods you eat. It also plays a role in building new cells and tissue throughout your body. One cup of roasted chicken breast contains about 19 mg of niacin while one cup of roasted chicken thigh contains only 9 mg.