How do you know whether a chicken is healthy or not?
Chicken is a staple of Western diet and the most popular dish in many countries, but does it really work?
And if it does, can you really rely on it?
A review by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) of chicken health claims shows that chicken is good for you.
“The average life expectancy of chickens in Britain is about 10 years,” the review, published by the British Chicken Council, found.
“These average life spans are very low compared with that of chickens raised in the wild.”
However, it said the average life span of chickens is only around 12 years.
In terms of nutritional value, chicken has more than twice as much fat, protein and carbohydrates as other poultry.
“A typical chicken breast contains about 12.4 per cent fat, which is very low for chickens, but higher than for other birds,” the Defra review said.
“However, a typical chicken has between 0.9 and 1.6 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight.
The same chicken can have as much as 5.2 grams of fat per kilo of body mass.”
Chicken fat has a very high glycemic index, meaning it increases blood sugar levels quickly.
This is because it contains carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins.
However, the report said there was “limited evidence” to support claims that chicken fat was linked to diabetes, heart disease or other chronic diseases.
“In general, the evidence suggests that a diet rich in protein, carbohydrates and vitamins can reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” the report found.
It said a diet containing only a small amount of chicken fat and a low glycemic load diet was “probably the best” for people with diabetes and the health of the liver and kidneys.
“Most studies show that a low-glycemic-load diet is probably the best diet for people who have diabetes, as they reduce the chance of complications,” it said.
It concluded that the benefits of a low fat diet in preventing diabetes are likely to be greater than the benefits from high fat and cholesterol diets.
The review also found that chickens are less likely to develop allergies than other animals.
“We know that chickens don’t have a skin allergy but it’s likely that there is some sort of reaction with the skin,” said Dr Ian Jones, who co-authored the Defrát.
“What we don’t know is whether that reaction is because of an allergic reaction to the chicken or some other factor.”
In a statement, Defra said: “As with all aspects of food production, chicken is an important part of British diets and it is important to consider whether it’s best to eat a chicken or not.”
“It’s important to note that the report does not prove that chicken or eggs cause a food allergy,” it added.
“We’re also aware that we are working with the chicken industry to improve our understanding of the risks and benefits of chicken.”
It said there is no evidence that poultry meat causes obesity.
However Dr Jones said there were concerns that “the chicken industry and the public may be over-interpreting the findings” and the “meat and poultry industry are unlikely to change their ways”.
“The industry has a vested interest in making sure they are getting the maximum number of chickens as quickly as possible, so there’s a lot of lobbying going on in the chicken lobby,” he said.
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What do you think?
Do you think chicken is unhealthy?
Do you eat chicken regularly?
Have you ever been treated for chicken allergies?
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