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Chicken Nutrition

There are many good reasons for eating chicken--nutrition content is very high and chicken can be prepared in so many ways it can add variety to your diet. Chicken is a very high source of protein with four ounces providing over two-thirds of an adult’s recommended daily protein. Protein is essential for every bodily function at the cellular level. Research has also shown that protein can help maintain bone density and prevent osteoporosis in older adults.

Lean chicken is one of the best meats you can have in a healthy diet, but it does mean skinning the chicken and cutting off any visible fat before cooking. Chicken breast is the leanest part of the meat and has only half the fat of an equal amount of beef. Chicken also has nutrients that can help protect against cancer--the B vitamin niacin and selenium. You can acquire 72% of your daily niacin requirement in of chicken. Niacin has been shown in research to help protect individuals from age-related deterioration of mental skills and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Selenium is essential to human health in several ways. It combines with proteins to create selenoproteins, an antioxidant enzyme, which helps prevent damage to the cells by free radicals. Free radicals are thought to be a contributing cause to some cancers and heart disease. These selenoproteins also help to maintain proper thyroid function and contribute to a healthy immune system. One 4-oz serving of chicken give us 40% of our daily requirements for selenium.

When you look at the vitamin content of chicken--nutrition is also provided by a goodly content of vitamin B6--36% of our daily requirement. Vitamin B6 has many good qualities, one of which is to assist enzymes in completing metabolic reactions throughout the body. It also helps our bodies in the processing of carbohydrates--breaking down glycogen, sugar stored in muscle cells that is needed to fuel our bodies. Niacin also helps in the area of blood sugars, helping to regulate our use of insulin.

Vitamin B6 has another essential function that helps lower our risk of cardiovascular disease. This is an aspect of chicken nutrition that should not be overlooked. B6 acts as a methyl donor which enables methyl groups to be transferred molecule to molecule. This causes the molecules to change into other molecules. For instance, without a methyl donor the molecule homocysteine would not properly change but instead accumulate on blood vessel walls leading to heart disease.

Lastly, chicken is rich in phosphorus, containing enough to meet 36% of our daily requirements. Phosphorus is found in every cell in the body, but is most important in formulation and maintenance of bones and teeth. In addition, phosphorus helps in the synthesis of protein for the growth, maintenance and repair of muscle tissue. This is highly important in preventing free radical damage, especially for people who exercise regularly. It is also essential for ATP production, the molecules where energy is stored. 
When present with B vitamins as it is in chicken, phosphorus helps in muscle contraction, kidney function, maintaining a regular heart beat and plays a part in the health of the nervous system.

With all of these benefits and the abundance of great chicken recipes available, especially on the internet, there is really no reason not to make lean chicken a regular part of your diet. Partake of chicken nutrition and you will be healthier for it.


 

 


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