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The Nutrition of Poultry

Jun 25, 2010

The term poultry refers to domestic birds that are consumed for their meat or to produce eggs. Common forms of poultry include fowl, chicken, duck, ostrich, quail and turkey. When cutting a piece of poultry, the meatiest parts are typically found on the chest because these birds have large chest muscles that are used for flight. The next meatiest part of a bird is found on the legs, called thighs or drumsticks.

Cuts of Meat

The healthiest cuts of poultry meat come from the white meat. White meat is healthier to eat than dark meat because it has less myoglobin, which carries oxygen. Dark meat is located in parts of the bird's body that use the most muscles. This is why dark meat is found on the legs of birds that do not fly often, such as turkeys and chickens, yet the dark meat is found in the chest muscles of ducks and geese.

Dark meat naturally has more fat than white meat. In fact, dark poultry can have more fat than some cuts of beef, eliminating some of the health benefits of poultry. It is recommended that you eat dark meat in moderation or not at all.

Healthy Poultry Meat

When looking to eliminate fat and to save calories, you will want to focus on eating cuts of poultry that are white meat and have no skin. When cooking these skinless cuts of meat, try baking, grilling or broiling. When you fry, bread or cover a piece of lean poultry with a fatty sauce, then you transforming this lean protein into a high fat and high calorie dish.

Health Benefits of Poultry

Poultry provides the human body with a range of nutrients and vitamins. Poultry provides the body with protein, vitamin B, including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and pyridoxine, vitamin E, zinc, iron and magnesium. Protein is essential for the human body because it helps build healthy bones, muscles, skin, cartilage and blood cells. Additionally, protein is needed to create hormones and enzymes. Finally, protein provides calories for the body.

Recommended Consumption

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that you eat 6 to 9 oz a day of lean cuts of protein. To keep poultry safe for consumption, never eat uncooked meats and always keep poultry chilled to at least 40-degrees Fahrenheit. According to the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, when baking poultry, make sure the internal temperature reaches at least 180 degree Fahrenheit for a whole bird and 170 degrees Fahrenheit for breast or thighs.

Healthy Poultry Dishes

One of the best characteristics of poultry is its versatility. This is a piece of protein that will take on nearly any flavor. It can be prepared quickly and in many different methods, helping prevent boredom. When baking poultry, a basic seasoning includes salt, pepper and a small amount of heart healthy olive oil. To add flavor, start experimenting with rosemary, oregano, thyme, lemon juice, soy sauce or barbecue sauce.

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