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The Nutrition of Chicken


Recently, chickens in the U.S. have been having some challenges with outbreaks of avian bird flu, but chicken continues to be the most popular meat source in many countries. When choosing chicken you need to make sure you are purchasing from a safe source and whenever possible buy free-range, organic, pesticide/ antibiotic-free choices. You can bake, roast, grill, stew, stir fry, bbq, microwave or fry chicken and add to a variety of recipes.

Nutrition Content of Chicken

3 oz of chicken, broilers or fryers, breast, meat and skin, cooked, roasted

Calories: 165

Fat: 6g / 9% DV

Carbohydrates: 0g

Protein: 24g / 51% DV

Iron: .9mg / 6% DV

Niacin: 3.6mg / 18% DV

Selenium: 21mcg / 30% DV

Vitamin B6: 0.6mg / 24% DV

Health Benefits of Chicken

  • Chicken is a good source of selenium, which is essential for protecting cells and supporting immune function.
  • Niacin is also found in chicken and is a vitamin that helps your body use sugars and fatty acids more efficiently. Additionally, it is a part of normal functioning of enzymes and produces energy in all body cells.
  • One serving of chicken also provides a lot of protein, more than half of what the average person needs in a day. Plus it has a high score on the Amino Acid Score, indicating that it is a high quality complete protein.
  • Another important vitamin found in chicken is vitamin B6, which helps your body make the nonessential amino acids used to make body cells. It also helps turn tryptophan into serotonin and niacin which is important for mental health. Vitamin B6 also contributes to producing chemicals including antibodies, hemoglobin and insulin.

Additional Health Considerations

Reducing animal consumption and choosing more plant-based protein sources should be a regular part of your meal planning. There is a tremendous toll that animal farming, wastes and antibiotics are having on our resources and environment. Eating meat has real risks besides avian bird flu including increased risk of foodborne pathogens like E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter. When you cook meat to high temperatures you are also increasing your exposure to heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Increasing more of your meals to be meat-free may reduce your risk of chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

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Emily DeLacey MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and currently working in Jamaica as a HIV/ AIDS Prevention Specialist. She attended Central Washington University for her Bachelor's Degree in Science and Dietetics and continued on after her internship to Kent State University for her Master's Degree in Science and Nutrition, with a focus on public health and advocacy. She served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi 2012-2014 working as a Community Health Advisor in a rural village, immersing in the joys of life without electricity or running water. She has been to 20+ countries and 47 of the 50 states in the US. Traveling, adventuring and experiencing new cultures has made her a passionate advocate for the equality of nutrition and wellness for all people.

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