There are SO many new diet fads around it can sometimes make your head spin. Some are rooted in long-standing nutritional practices or center around superfoods that may have fallen by the wayside and are enjoying a well-deserved resurgence in popularity. Some are just...not (we’re looking at you, fruitarians).
The point is, we live in a time when an entire world of information is at our fingertips. You can research or read about every food or diet on the planet if you wanted to, and it can be overwhelming! Sometimes, it’s nice to get back to basics.That’s one of the reasons we encourage a paleo, whole-food centered diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and pasture raised meats, especially chicken. This leads us to the top reasons why you should eat chicken.
The Top Reasons Why You Should Eat Chicken
We’re glad you asked. Chicken, particularly when it has been pasture raised, is high in vitamins and minerals and protein, low in fat, and has several health benefits including reducing inflammation, controlling blood pressure, and improving cognition and mood. It’s incredibly easy to include chicken into a balanced diet, even one with certain restrictions, like a diet that must be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol to control diabetes or heart disease.
Chicken can be integrated into almost any dish, whether you’re looking to spend the day cooking something elaborate to impress dinner guests, or just need a quick protein boost after a tough workout at the gym. While we may not normally think of chicken as a “breakfast meat” (nope, eggs don’t count), chicken breakfast sausage is a wonderful alternative to traditional pork sausage if you’re looking to switch up your diet to include a more low fat and heart healthy alternative to frittatas, breakfast casseroles, or even serve alongside eggs and toast. Simply put, there really isn’t much you can’t do with chicken!
We may be a little biased, but we really do believe that pasture raised chicken is a cornerstone of a healthy, nutritious diet.
Chicken is High in Protein, Low in Fat, and Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
At Pasturebird, our whole company was built around our own personal experiences with the health benefits of pasture raised chicken. We started our farm after noticing the incredible changes we noticed when our family switched to a paleo diet that included lots of pasture raised meat. We have first hand experience with how life changing healthy eating can be. So while we don’t necessarily encourage a low-fat diet (we’d rather focus on including healthy fats in a balanced whole-foods diet), we think that chicken is a great source of dietary protein for anyone, including those who may need to watch their weight for health reasons.
One chicken breast provides approximately 50 grams of protein, with 80% of its calories coming from protein and only 20% coming from fat. Since protein helps keep your body satiated longer, consuming a variety of healthy protein throughout the day decreases the chances that you’ll end up snacking on unhealthy “filler” foods instead. Whether you’re watching your weight or just like to follow a healthful and whole-foods based diet, protein-rich, low fat chicken is a must.
Another great benefit of eating a diet that includes pasture raised chicken is that it helps to build muscle and strengthen bones. Protein is vital to these two processes, and pasture raised chicken is a fantastic source of lean protein. Consuming adequate protein is especially important if you exercise regularly, since it helps to rebuild muscle after an intense workout. Making sure that you combine a nutritious, protein-rich diet with regular exercise is one of the best ways to ensure good health, and build strong muscles and bones.
Chicken may help reduce cholesterol since it has less saturated fat and cholesterol than red meats, and pasture raised chicken in particular contains higher levels of substances such as quercetin and glutathione, which aid in the body’s anti-inflammatory and detoxification response.
Chicken May Help Improve Mood and Cognition
There’s a reason for the age-old saying “let food be thy medicine.”
Sometimes when you read facts about the food you eat, the benefits they have can sound a little too good to be true! You may be able to improve your mood and memory by eating chicken? Sounds crazy, right? But hear us out. If you’ve ever experienced that post-Thanksgiving dinner wave of happiness and comfort, your mama’s cooking might have had something to do with it, but so did the tryptophan in the turkey! While most of us associate tryptophan with turkey, chicken is also incredibly high in this important amino acid. Tryptophan isn’t produced by the body but rather must be obtained from food, and is critical in the production of serotonin, a chemical produced by the body that has a significant effect on memory and mood.
Studies have shown that serotonin affects almost every system in your body, and is vital to digestion, regulating sleep, and reducing anxiety and depression. Including foods high in tryptophan as part of your diet is an excellent and natural way to ensure that your body is getting enough of this essential amino acid to help it produce adequate amounts of serotonin.
Chicken is Super Versatile
There are some nutritious foods that you know you should eat, but unless you have a background in the culinary arts, it can be so difficult to figure out how to work them into your regular diet (hi, beets!)
Not so with chicken. Chicken is one of the most versatile foods on the planet, and is delicious alone and in everything from soups, to salads, to complex casseroles. Whether you are a novice cook or an experienced chef, chances are you can find a way to make chicken delicious, and it fits into almost any occasion. What Superbowl party would be complete without a batch of chicken wings, and many of us still have fond memories of being fed homemade chicken soup as a child when we were feeling under the weather.
Chicken is delicious in almost any meal, whether you prefer to serve it cold in a flavorful chicken salad atop a bed of leafy greens, or roast a whole rotisserie chicken to serve with sides of homemade mashed potatoes and vegetables. You can literally use every bit of a chicken. So don’t forget to make delicious bone broth with the bones!