Why I encourage clients to eat less chicken
I’m a bit anti-chicken. I know it’s popular and for many people the meat they most commonly eat. Chicken is not a terrible food. However, while it’s low-ish in fat and contains a good amount of protein, I don’t think chicken has a lot else going for it.
The average Australian eats about 36kg of chicken per year. This means chicken rivals beef (and beats both lamb and pork) in the list of most popular meats.
It was in the 1970s that chicken really took off, as people became more concerned about health and the risks from high saturated fat diets. Chicken was a lower fat meat and so many people switched from eating beef and lamb.
But compared to red meat, I think chicken is nutritionally scanty. Sure it’s high in protein and as long as you steer clear of the skin, chicken is also low-ish in fat. However, for most people meat is their main source of the minerals iron and zinc. And unlike red meat, chicken is low in both of these.
In fact, most legumes like chickpeas and lentils have more iron and zinc than chicken.
Plus meat production and retailing has changed enormously in the past decade. Concern about saturated fat has led to more and more lean cuts of meat becoming available. In Australia these are marketed as trim cuts. You can also look out for the Heart Foundation’s Tick or the Trimmed Pork label. All of these are lower in fat than your normal bog-standard steak and many of them have similar fat levels to chicken.
And the added bonus with lamb, beef and pork is they contain zinc and iron.
If you’re a chicken fiend, then think about changing some of your choices. Vary your proteins around. Continue eating some chicken, but intersperse that with lean red meat or pork. You’d also benefit from having some vegetarian meals and even some fish. You’ll be adding in important minerals, essential fatty acids and other nutritional goodies, whilst still keeping your saturated fat intake under control.
Photograph by Straymuse.