Think about the past week: how often did you eat chicken?
If you are like most Americans, chicken probably made it onto your menu nearly every day, and with good reason. Chicken is a delicious source of lean protein.
In fact, chicken is so common that the average American consumes 59.2 pounds of the (boneless) birds each year!1
This may not seem like a bad thing. After all, chicken has plenty of good qualities besides just being lean protein.
Chicken is the world's leading source of animal protein. Here's why2:
- Versatility. Chicken can be sautéed, baked, poached, and grilled with almost any combination of spices and marinades.
- Lean Protein. 4 ounces of chicken provide two thirds of your daily protein requirements, and adequate protein may prevent bone loss in older people.
- Immunity. That 4-ounce serving of chicken also provides nearly half of your RDA of the trace mineral selenium that is essential for manufacturing glutathione, a powerful immune boosting and cancer-fighting enzyme.
- Cancer and Alzheimer's Protection. A serving of chicken supplies 72% of the RDA for niacin, a B vitamin that can protect DNA from cell damage and has cancer-preventative properties. Chicken may be a good food for Alzheimer's prevention because elderly people who obtain niacin from food are less likely to develop the disease.
- Energy. Vitamin B6 in chicken helps process carbohydrates and helps regulate blood sugar.
You know that chicken is good for your health and taste buds, but before you head to the grocery store, make sure you know the facts about conventional chicken and how to pick the best poultry for you and your family.
The Danger of Conventional Chicken
The USDA has established firm guidelines that regulate the use of organic labeling for chicken, but what's wrong with conventional chickens in the first place?
Conventional chickens are raised in commercial chicken farms that pack 500,000 animals into close quarters where they eat genetically modified (GM) grains (including soy) that have been raised with pesticides and fertilizers.
These chickens are given growth hormones to make them fatter and antibiotics to prevent the infections that are inevitable in such living conditions.
Conventional chickens can expose you to hormones, antibiotics, toxins from pesticides and fertilizers and even high levels of the poison arsenic, which is used to prevent poultry parasites.3
But as a consumer, you have a choice NOT to consume conventional poultry.
Why Pasture Fed Chicken?
Here at Body Ecology, we encourage people to search out pasture fed poultry whenever possible. But not just any pasture fed chickens.
When you choose pasture fed chickens, make sure the chickens:
- Have never been given antibiotics, hormones, or drugs.
- Have consumed a natural diet consisting of insects, pesticide-free grass and non-genetically modified legumes and grains. This allows the chickens to have a healthy inner ecosystem and strong immunity.
- Are humanely raised and free range (allowed to run around outside with grass underfoot). Cage free is not the same as free range. Cage free chickens typically live on porches with no access to pastures.
The USDA recently found that meat from chickens with access to the outdoors were more nutritious than their cooped-up conventional chicken counterparts.4
Chickens that are pasture fed with the above farming standards have by far the most health benefits, including5:
- Higher in minerals.
- Higher in fat-soluble vitamins (e.g., 50% more vitamin A).
- 21% less total fat and 30% less saturated fat.
- Natural source of omega-3 (100% more omega-3 essential fatty acids than conventional chicken).
Organic chicken is a great choice, but make sure you get organic pasture fed chicken in order to reap the health rewards of consuming chickens raised on their natural diet. Organic chickens are not given hormones or antibiotics, but "organic" on the label does not tell us if the chickens were able to exercise, nor does it tell us what they were fed.
See the Entire Natural Chicken and Eggs Selection Now!
In fact, we often get questions on where to find healthy poultry products. That's why we love US Wellness Meats, a network of highly skilled small farming families with a commitment to the health of their consumers and the quality of their meats and poultry. Nothing beats the convenience of buying online and US Wellness Meats delivers pasture fed products to your door!
US Wellness Meats was founded on the concept of providing pasture fed, chemical-free, pesticide-free, non-GMO and antibiotic-free poultry and beef, so that the animals, consumers and the planet could maintain the good health that nature intended.
US Wellness Meats offers a variety of poultry packages so that you can experiment with different chicken preparations and recipes.
Next time you have chicken (it just might be tonight!) choose pasture fed chicken that is free of all the chemicals and antibiotics that don't belong at your dinner table. You can be sure you'll be eating chicken that tastes great and has plenty of nutrients to support your healthy lifestyle AND a healthy planet.
If you want to know more about organic eggs and meats, read Eggs: What Health-Conscious People Need to Know About One of Our Most Misunderstood Foods and Good Meats vs. Bad Meats: Your Definitive Guide to How to Choose Healthiest Meat.
- Buzby, Jean and Farah, Hodan, "Chicken Consumption Continues Longrun Rise," ERS.USDA.gov. http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/April06/Findings/Chicken.htm
- Chicken, WHFoods.org. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=116
- High Levels Of Arsenic In Chicken May Require Adjustment in Consumption, Environmental Health Perspectives, 5 Jan 2004. http://www.ehponline.org/press/achicken.html
- Organic Prairie Organic Chicken, OrganicValley.com.
- Fallon, S. and Enig, Mary G., Splendor from the Grass.
- 6 Salatin, Joel, "Pastured Poultry: The Polyface Farm Model," WestonAPrice.org. http://www.westonaprice.org/farming/pasturedpoultry.html