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Is Chicken Healthy, Actually? What Science Says

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Is Chicken Healthy, Actually? What Science Says

As one of the most popular types of meat, chicken is a great source of protein and can have some health benefits. Depending on how it is prepared, it can be very healthy for you. Chicken is loved by many because it is easily accessible and easy to prepare. But, there are growing concerns about the types and quality of chicken because of how it is being mass-produced. So, let's take a look at chicken, its nutritional value, and when it's healthy and unhealthy for you.

Nutritional Value

A chicken breast has approximately 122 calories, 24 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of fat. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily protein intake should be 50 grams daily for a 2,000-calorie diet. Chicken also contains a handful of vitamins and minerals that offer health benefits.

The above nutritional value is specific to chicken breast. Different parts of the chicken will vary slightly in nutritional value. Chicken breast is going to be the leanest part of the chicken, whereas the thigh, wings, and drumstick are going to be higher in fat content. The skin of the chicken will have the highest fat content of the chicken, although it does offer some good unsaturated fats. These include omega 3 and 6 and other important fatty acids. Skinless chicken breast is your best option if you focus on reducing your calories.

Grilled chicken breast served with herbs and lime
Grilled chicken is one of the healthiest ways to prepare chicken. There are many different ways you can flavor grilled chicken to mix it up.

©Elena Shashkina/Shutterstock.com

Health Benefits

Chicken has a mineral called selenium. Selenium is essential to our health and helps our bodies carry out important functions in fertility, our immune system, and our thyroid.

Chicken is also a great source of vitamins B6 and B12. Vitamin B is important for brain function, cell repair, and DNA synthesis. One chicken breast offers 16% of the vitamin B6 you need daily and 10% of vitamin B12.

If you want to lose weight, incorporating chicken into your diet is a great way to accomplish that. Because it's high in protein and low in calories, it will help your body build muscle and keep you feeling full so that you eat less.

Unhealthy Ways To Eat Chicken

While chicken breast doesn't seem to have any downsides, the way it's prepared can make it unhealthy. Also, the way that chicken is processed can make it unhealthy. Here are some types of chicken and recipes you should avoid if you want to eat a healthy meal.

If you're eating lunch meat that is made from chicken, that is a processed form of chicken. Research shows that increased processed meat intake can be linked to certain cancers and heart diseases. The larger amount of preservatives in processed meats is what has been linked to cancer like colorectal cancer. The high amount of sodium in processed meat is directly linked to heart health. High amounts of sodium can increase blood pressure.

How your chicken is prepared can determine if it is still healthy for you. A deep-fried chicken will quickly make your meal high in carbs, calories, and unhealthy fats. Also, if you need to limit your sodium intake, you should avoid rotisserie chicken. This type of chicken is usually brined and heavily seasoned, leaving you with a product high in sodium.

Frying chicken will add carbs, fats, and calories to your meal. It will no longer be a healthy chicken recipe.

©Tatiana Volgutova/Shutterstock.com

Healthiest Ways To Eat Chicken

The healthiest ways to prepare and eat chicken are to bake, grill, or stir-fry. You can cook it with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper to ensure it stays a healthy meal while preparing it. Chicken is also great for meal prepping. You can cook a large amount of it and portion it out for the week's meals.


Chicken overall can be a very healthy protein option to have in your diet. It's low in calories, high in protein, and has some important vitamins and minerals that our body needs to operate correctly. Depending on how the chicken is cooked or prepared can determine if it's still a healthy option for you. Processed chicken is going to be high in sodium and have harmful preservatives. Fried chicken will be high in carbs, calories, and fat. The best way to ensure you're eating your chicken in a healthy way is to grill, bake, or stir-fry it.

Our Favorite Healthy Ways To Eat Chicken

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