Debating just why the chicken crossed the road has been a favored pastime of the young and the young at heart for decades. Over the years, plenty of possibilities have been offered, but those amusing answers aren’t the reason that this particular form of poultry is such a popular subject for nutritionists and health enthusiasts. It’s the abundant health benefits of chicken that inspire their interest.
Exploring the Health Benefits of Chicken
Whether you want to lose weight, build muscle, or simply eat a healthy diet, when you begin to explore the best meal plans for your goal, you’ll almost certainly find chicken on the menu. What makes this familiar fowl such a popular choice for people working toward wellness? It’s simple: The health benefits of chicken are numerous.
Chicken Provides Needed Protein
Protein isn’t just for athletes and body builders. It’s a basic building block that every human body needs to thrive, and chicken is packed with it. More importantly, chicken is a complete protein. That means that consuming chicken can provide your body with all of the essential amino acids that it needs to be healthy and function well. Why is protein so important? Many people know that protein helps to build muscle, but it does much more than that. It also plays a role in building and maintaining heart tissue, bones, and cells (source). In addition, it facilitates various bodily processes, including the removal of toxins. Consuming sufficient protein is even linked with better brain function and faster healing.
Chicken Is Good for the Heart
It’s hard to be healthy if your heart is not. Fortunately, consuming chicken is an easy way to protect your heart. For starters, it is a lean meat, which means it contains relatively little saturated fat, and choosing foods that are low in saturated fat helps to keep cholesterol levels in check (source). Chicken also contains niacin, a vitamin associated with lower cholesterol, and vitamin B6, which is thought to reduce the risk of heart attack by lowering levels of homocysteine. Have you heard that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for heart health? Chicken supplies those as well.
Chicken Can Help With Weight Control
Maintaining a healthy weight can be a challenging goal, but it’s one that chicken can help you achieve. In fact, chicken can give your metabolism a welcome boost. Its protein can assist with building muscle, and having more muscle mass means that you’ll enjoy a higher resting metabolism, which can make keeping your waistline trim easier. In addition, the vitamin B6 in chicken does more than protect your heart. Vitamin B6 fosters various cellular reactions that keep your energy levels high, your metabolism functioning effectively, and your blood vessels humming along happily.
Chicken Helps Manage Moods
Like turkey, chicken is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that’s often blamed for the sleepy feeling people experience after consuming a big Thanksgiving dinner. Tryptophan is actually a precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin, so it’s something of a natural antidepressant. Supplying your body with this amino acid can increase your serotonin levels, which can help you fight back against stress, encourage relaxation, and enhance your mood.
Chicken Protects Bones
Milk may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about foods that are good for the bones, but chicken definitely deserves a place on that list. Its protein helps to keep bones sturdy and strong, and it also provides phosphorous, a mineral that is crucial for strong bones and teeth.
Chicken Supports the Immune System
Recommending chicken soup for people who are under the weather is a time-tested tradition, and part of the credit for any healing properties should go to the chicken it contains. That’s because chicken contains minerals that are known to offer the immune system a helping hand. For example, zinc supports the immune system, wound healing, and cell growth (source). It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin A aids with immune and neurological function and fights damaging free radicals, and vitamin B6 supports digestive, nervous, and immune system functions. Chicken is also a source of selenium, a trace element that helps with immune function and is credited with cancer-fighting abilities and the power to combat inflammatory conditions.
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