If properly cooked, chicken is not only delicious to taste; it is highly nutritious. This makes it one of the most valued foods among people of all ages, across the world. It is adaptable, available and reasonably affordable around the globe. Little wonder, it forms a crucial part of various culinary traditions.
Nowadays, chicken is so popular in Nigeria that it is cooked in different ways, either fried or barbecued or used for making soup in many households.
Many people prefer chicken to seafood because of its inoffensive taste. Nutritionists say it is good for the heart because it contains fatty acids, which do not encourage weight gain – a predisposing factor for coronary heart disease.
Consultant Nutritionist, Dr. Shola Adebiyi, says that the Omega-3 fatty acid in chicken reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Adebiyi states, “Chicken is relatively low in saturated fats, compared to many protein alternatives, such as red meat, especially when the skin is removed and it is not fried.
“By eating chicken, you will lower your risk of developing heart disease by reducing your LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol. Basically, eating chicken makes it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight due to its low fat content.”
If you want to reduce your risks for some forms of cancer, experts say you should incorporate chicken into your diet.
Food experts note that chicken is a great source of selenium, a trace element that has been shown to fight cancer. They affirm that selenium has a positive effect on the incidence of other degenerative diseases, including inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases and infections.
“A part of chicken contains 24 micro-grammes of selenium, which is 44 per cent of the selenium you need daily. Selenium is an anti-oxidant that activates vitamins C and E and their ability to fight cancer-promoting free radicals,” they say.
Many people are aware of the fact that chicken is one of the richest sources of protein, but only a few actually know that it is loaded with vitamin B3, B6 and niacin, nutrients that have been known to boost immunity, protect against infections and help cell regeneration and rejuvenation.
Experts highlight that Vitamin B6, which is found in chicken, is an essential element that helps the body produce insulin needed for the metabolism of protein and carbohydrates.
“Without vitamin B6, your immune system, metabolism and central nervous system would not function properly. The active form of Vitamin B6, called pyridoxal phosphate, has the largest effect on human metabolism and each serving of chicken contains 40 per cent of your daily recommended vitamin B-6 intake.”Adebiyi adds.
Here are some amazing health benefits of eating chicken:
Helps build muscles
Chicken is one of the best non-vegetarian sources of protein. It is lean meat, which means that it contains a good amount of proteins and less amount of fat. A 100g serving of roasted chicken offers you 31g of protein, which is good for those who want to build muscles.
Keeps your bones healthy
Apart from protein, chicken is rich in several minerals like phosphorus and calcium that helps to keep bones in mint condition. Also, it has selenium which has been known to cut risk of arthritis.
Chicken has two nutrients that are great for reducing stress – tryptophan and Vitamin B5. Both of them have a calming effect on your body and this makes chicken an excellent option after a stressful day. Also, it tastes great and that adds to its stress releasing, happiness inducing properties.
Reduces mentrual symptoms
Magnesium, a nutrient present in chicken helps soothe symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome and fights the various mood changes that a woman might experience during her periods.
Helps boost testosterone levels
Men should consume foods rich in zinc as it helps to regulate testosterone levels, as well as boost sperm production.
Chicken soup has long been used as a remedy for cold, flu and other common respiratory infections. The hot steam of chicken soup helps clear nasal and throat congestion, while the thick fluid coats the throat to prevent invasion of respiratory linings by microbes to cause infection. A study evaluating this effect suggested that chicken soup inhibits migration of neutrophils, a type of immune cells, thereby preventing inflammation during common infections and boosting immunity.
Finally, be careful when handling raw chicken so that it does not come in contact with other foods, especially those that will be served uncooked. Wash the cutting board, utensils and your hands very well with hot soapy water after handling the chicken.
If your recipe requires marinating, you should always do so in the refrigerator as chicken is very sensitive to heat, which can increase the chances of spoilage.