Is chicken good for you?
Your instinct might be to say, “Of course!” but are you sure? And if so, do you know why eating chicken provides health benefits?
Here at Grass Roots, we believe in responsible and well-informed animal consumption, which is why we’re very interested in the health benefits of chicken and all the pasture-raised meats we offer. And we’d love to share those insights with you!
Read on to learn:
- Recommended cooking temperature for chicken
- The 7 health benefits of eating chicken
- Chicken nutrition information
- And lastly, an answer to this common question: Is chicken the healthiest meat to eat?
Is chicken healthy?
The Cliff’s Notes answer is YES.
As a source of lean protein, chicken is low in saturated fat and rich in amino acids and essential vitamins like B6, which support a strong immune system.
However, after selecting quality pasture-raised chicken at the grocery store (or you could streamline your to-do list by ordering online and having it shipped to your door year-round), it's crucial that you maintain safe cooking practices to prevent foodborne illnesses.
Proper handling and kitchen hygiene are very important, but maybe the biggest chicken safety factor is cooking time. Cook all chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). This temperature destroys harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter, which then makes the chicken safe to eat.
TIP: We recommend using a digital food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken so that you get an accurate reading you can trust.
7 benefits of chicken
One important note before we explore the many chicken health benefits:
Chicken skin is rather high in saturated fat, so cooking chicken with the skin intact is not the most heart-healthy choice. The health benefits and nutritional information we’ve listed below are based on skinless and boneless chicken.
Having clarified that, let’s get into the many benefits of one of our favorite white meats.
Benefit #1: Excellent source of lean protein
As a lean and high-quality source of protein, chicken supports repairing and building muscle, which is why athletes and anyone who’s physically active often include chicken as a staple in their diet.
Benefit #2: Low in saturated fat
As we mentioned above, skinless chicken has lower saturated fat than all red meats, making it a heart-healthy option for those of us who are focused on maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.
Benefit #3: Aids in weight loss and weight management
Due to the amount of protein it offers, chicken can help with satiety and appetite control. If you’re looking to manage your weight, foods that promote satiety can be very helpful.
Benefit #4: Rich in essential amino acids
Chicken contains a complete profile of essential amino acids, which are vital for a variety of bodily functions like protein synthesis, tissue repair, and nutrient absorption.
Benefit #5: Contains important vitamins and minerals
Although protein gets most of the attention, chicken also contains:
- Vitamins B6, B9 and B12, which contribute to nerve function, energy metabolism, and the production of red blood cells
- Retinol (an active form of Vitamin A)
- Minerals that support oxygen transport and bone health, like iron, magnesium, and zinc.
Benefit #6: Immune system support
Protein intake supports the immune system by helping to build antibodies and promoting the synthesis of glutathione, which is required for a healthy immune system. As a result, a high-quality protein like chicken can help to boost immunity.
Benefit #7: Versatile and tasty!
The 6 items above were all about health, but a list of the benefits of eating chicken wouldn’t be complete without mentioning its versatility. Working well with a wide range of cooking methods and seasoning/flavor profiles, chicken is probably the most widely consumed (and loved) meat. With good reason!
As we mentioned above, chicken with the skin on presents a very different nutritional profile. For optimal heart health, avoiding chicken skin is widely recommended.
The table below lists basic nutritional information for 100g of cooked, skinless, boneless chicken breasts.
Amount per 100g
Is chicken the healthiest meat to eat?
There’s no doubt that chicken is generally considered to be one of the healthier meat options.
It’s high in protein, nutrient-rich, and contains lower levels of saturated fat. Eating chicken and any chicken product involves less of the health risks associated with eating red meat.
However, to declare it “the healthiest” would require examining several factors like your personal dietary habits, portion sizes, preferred cooking methods (e.g. grilling vs frying chicken), and the source and quality of the chicken.
One thing we can definitely say for sure:
Regeneratively-raised chicken is the most nutritious chicken.
Often referred to as “pasture-raised”, chickens raised on a regenerative agriculture farm spend their lives outdoors. Pecking at non-GMO pasture in the fresh air and sunshine, the way nature intended.
- Animals are never treated with antibiotics
- Animals never receive added hormones
- Rotational grazing ensures animals have access to fresh pasture every single day
- Minimal (typically, ZERO) use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides
- Humane handling practices to ensure animal welfare
As a result, regeneratively-raised meat has been shown to be more nutrient-dense and more flavorful than conventionally-raised meat.
Learn more about our collection of regenerative farms, spread across the rural United States.