Chicken: Good or Bad?

by in Food Safety, May 8, 2012

marinated chicken
Our recent post on 5 Healthiest Kids Meals stirred up controversy over chicken. Some folks felt that it’s loaded with artery-clogging saturated fat while others voiced their concern over how chickens are raised and fed. Here’s a breakdown of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Good?
Chicken is easy to prepare in a healthy way by grilling, roasting, sauteing, poaching, stir-frying and baking. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we should be eating lean sources of protein, including chicken. It is recommended to remove the visible fat and skin from chicken before eating to decrease unnecessary calories from fat. Here is a comparison of 3-ounces of chicken breast with and without the skin:

Without the skin:
Calories: 142
Fat: 3 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
Cholesterol: 73 milligrams
Protein: 27 grams

With the skin:
Calories: 193
Fat: 8 grams
Saturated Fat: 8 gram
Cholesterol: 82 milligrams
Protein: 29 grams

As with most meat and poultry, it can get expensive. The problem is, most folks eat much higher portions that they really need. Purchasing 3-4 ounces cooked (about 4-5 ounces raw) per person can help keep portions at bay and control costs.

Bad?
Conventionally raised chickens are often treated with antibiotics in order to make them grow faster or combat the effects of crowded living conditions. The high usage of antibiotics has led to an increased risk of bacteria developing antibiotic resistance. While they offer different pros and cons, free-range, organic and local poultry can provide more eco-friendly alternatives but cost a pretty penny.

Salmonella is another concern with chicken. The government no longer tests poultry for salmonella, instead we rely on preventative measures to keep our food safe. This includes food safety procedures from the slaughterhouse to the supermarket, which are checked by food inspectors (AKA sanitarians). It also means that consumers need to be careful how they handle raw chicken including preventing cross-contamination with ready-to-eat foods like fruits and veggies and making sure the chicken is cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bottom Line:
This lean meat can definitely be part of a healthy diet in appropriate portions. However, if you’re worried about how our feathered friends are raised and you have the funds, purchase antibiotic-free varieties.

(The recipe in the photo above is Marinated Chicken Breasts, from Food Network Kitchens.)

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

More posts from .

Similar Posts

5 Chicken Kitchen Safety Tips

After close to 300 people became sick from salmonella in 18 states, this Monday the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert. The culprit is raw chicken produced at three Foster Farms facilities in California. Luckily, proper handling of poultry can help prevent illness.

Comments (1,839)

  1. Wow, wonderful blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is fantastic, let alone the content!. Thanks For Your article about Chicken: Good or Bad? | Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog .

  2. I think this is a real great article.Thanks Again. Awesome.

  3. Looking around…

    While I was surfing today I saw a great article about…

  4. Title…

    [...]we prefer to honor several other net sites around the web, even though they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Below are some webpages really worth checking out[...]…

  5. what a good day
    i like the post

  6. Title…

    [...]we like to honor lots of other net web-sites on the internet, even when they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Below are some webpages really worth checking out[...]…

  7. Tumblr article…

    I saw someone talking about this on Tumblr and it linked to…

  8. dflghfdghglf says:

    is you like chicken then its ok for you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>