Is Chicken the healthiest meat?
When it comes to healthy meats, very few compare to the humble chicken. A fantastic source of protein, lean (once it has had its skin removed) and rich in energy-boosting vitamins such as niacin, it is one of the most popular foods in the world and chicken recipes are plentiful.
Foods that are high in protein can help us to get rid of excess weight quickly. In fact a study conducted in Australia five years ago stated that lean chicken breast is the superior meat to use in stir-fries as it has the least fat and maintains its nutrients better than any other meat. When it comes to losing weight, the chicken is a dieters' best friend.
And then, of course, there is chicken's famous ability to fight disease. Chicken soup has long been considered the dish to eat when suffering from the common cold or a bout of the flu. Traditionally a peasant meal, chicken soup's curative qualities are so well known that it’s sometimes referred to as folk medicine or even the ‘Jewish penicillin’.
While many scientists have denied the health benefits, this hasn't stopped it taking up a place in popular culture as a natural medicine. Artists have gone as far as naming books and plays after it: Arnold Wesker’s play ‘Chicken Soup and Barley’ and the psychobabble almanac ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ to name two.
However not all chickens are as nutritious as the food sector might like us to think. Eating a bird that has been raised in cages and injected with all sorts of drugs and and hormones isn't the same thing as eating free-range or organic. Chickens that are raised outdoors provide more tender meat with greater flavour. They do cost more but a little goes a long way – a large bird can easily provide for a family of four, as well as leaving leftovers and forming the base of a chicken stock.
Obviously, none of this means anything if one cooks the chicken incorrectly. You need to make sure that uncooked chicken doesn’t touch any of the other ingredients, defrost chicken in the refrigerator rather than leaving it on a work surface, and making sure the meat is completely cooked before serving will mean the chicken meals you cook are a success, not a fowl failure.