Chicken : Best source of protein for the young and old alike | Sunday Observer

Chicken : Best source of protein for the young and old alike

Sri Lanka’s rising demand for chicken from 4.86 kg/year in 2010 to 7.8 kg/year in 2015 can be attributed to the booming economy and as a result, the rising per capita income which is directly linked to the disposable income of citizens. It is indeed a ‘healthy’ trend that the country is looking at chicken more as a staple and a primary source of protein as opposed to a luxury item like it used to be a decade ago.

Whether you prefer it in soup, baked with veggies or grilled atop a salad, you can’t simply go wrong with chicken as it is the most versatile of all meats with countless different ways and recipes for preparation.

According to Senior Lecturer and Food Safety Expert at the Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, Dr. Krishanthi Premaratne, chicken is an excellent source of protein as it is lean, filling, and full of beneficial amino acids. It is believed that in each 100 grams (3.5 oz) of cooked skinless, boneless chicken breast, you will find approximately 31 grams of protein which amounts to about half of the daily recommended amount.

Chicken meat is regarded as a ‘complete protein’ and the most efficient because it provides all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot synthesize but has to obtain via the diet and delivers the most amount of amino acids per amount of food eaten, respectively. Although best known for being a source of protein, chicken also contains a variety of beneficial nutrients including iron that assists with growth and development and helps in the production of red blood cells and hemoglobin. It is also rich in Selenium which protects cells from oxidative stress and helps fight cancer and Phosphorous which strengthens bones and teeth, assisting with the function of the central nervous system.

Chicken is also rich in lots of vitamins including A, B2, B3. B5, B6, B7 and B12. Vitamin A helps maintain healthy vision and skin while fighting free radical damage by strengthening the immune system. B2 or Riboflavin helps maintain healthy blood cells while protecting skin and eye health and contributing to growth.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) and Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, aids in metabolism and brain function while maintaining skin and supporting the function of the adrenal glands. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) assists with the function of the cardiovascular, digestive, immune, muscular, and nervous system functions while Vitamin B7 (Biotin) assists with cell growth and tissue maintenance, promotes healthy skin and hair and improves metabolism. Vitamin B12 protects the health of the nerves and red blood cells, helps regulate the nervous system and digestive system and assists with energy production, Chicken meat is also rich in Zinc which helps with hormone production, improves immunity, facilitates digestion, acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and fights free radical damage.

Addressing a common misconception, Dr. Premaratne said that chicken contains less cholesterol than other meats like beef and pork and is therefore less likely to cause blood cholesterol levels to rise or cause heart disease. She emphasized that dietary cholesterol is not correlated with disease and is an insignificant part of blood cholesterol which is mostly metabolized.

Furthermore, she noted that the human body can quickly digest and absorb the proteins and nutrients in chicken ensuring that the majority of the health benefits of the same do not go to waste. Scientifically proven to be one of the easiest foods to digest, chicken complements the diets of people suffering from chronic digestion issues such as irritable bowel syndrome and Cohn’s disease.

Chicken is a readily available type of meat and is perhaps the most hygienically produced. Unlike other types of meat, poultry is highly regulated to ensure the quality and safety of the end product – from farm to fork.