Chicken is one of the “go-to” proteins for anyone who is on a weight loss or muscle-building diet. It’s not just tasty, but it’s also one of the healthiest proteins around.
What makes chicken so awesome? It’s fairly low in fat (once you remove the skin), but you get a lot of protein and minerals in every bite. You can eat a much larger serving of chicken without consuming as many calories as you would in a similar-sized portion of meat or pork.
The majority of the calories and saturated fat are in the chicken skin. It may be delicious to eat the skin when it’s crispy and golden, but the truth is that you should remove the skin in order to reduce the amount of saturated fat you consume. Once you do, you’ll find that chicken is wonderfully low in calories–for a protein!
Here are the calories you get from chicken:
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But life isn’t all about calories! Chicken is good for you for so many reasons besides just the protein it can provide you.
It’s Mood Boosting
You know how turkey contains a lot of tryptophan, the amino acid that makes you feel comforted and drowsy after a heavy Thanksgiving meal? Chicken contains some of the same amino acid, and tryptophan is a noted mood-booster. Eating chicken (particularly in soup) helps your brain to produce more serotonin, making you feel happier and more satisfied, fighting stress, and helping you to relax.
It Increases Muscle Tone
Why do you think chicken is the go-to food for all athletes trying to build muscle and lose weight? It’s because it’s so high in protein! Protein packs a power punch that will keep you from overeating, but its main purpose is to promote the growth of lean muscle. By eating more chicken–particularly chicken breast–you give your muscles the nutrients they need to grow.
It Fights Disease
Did you ever stop to wonder why your mother would always make chicken soup when you were sick? It’s not just about the warming sensation that it provides, but there is a special compound in chicken soup called carnosine. This compound–released when the bones are cooked–boosts your immune system and makes it better able to fight the viruses that are responsible for your cough or cold.
It Boosts Heart Health
Heart problems are the #1 killer in the world today, and homocysteine–an amino acid naturally found in the body–has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Thankfully, chicken can help to lower homocysteine levels and thereby reduces your chances of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular disorders.
It’s Rich in Minerals
Chicken contains all sort of minerals, making it one of the best proteins to eat if you want to be healthy. It gives you phosphorus, which will improve the health of your kidneys, teeth, bones, and central nervous system. It provides selenium, an antioxidant that will boost your metabolic function and promote a healthy thyroid gland and immune function. It also contains a lot of Vitamin B6, which helps to produce the enzymes needed for metabolic reactions in your body.
It Boosts Eye Health
Chicken won’t just help to improve your muscles, but it will do wonders for your eyes as well. Chicken is rich in retinol, lycopene, and alpha and beta-carotene. These four nutrients are all converted by your body into Vitamin A, which is necessary for the health of your eyes. Vitamin A reduces the degeneration of your eye cells that is natural when you grow older.