Some people say chicken skin is healthy to eat and some disagree

Some people say chicken skin is healthy to eat and some disagree

 Dr Hector Perera       London

In health point of view one must remove the outer skin because it contains oil that has cholesterol which is not healthy to eat all the time. Cholesterol is supposed to block the arteries and why do we eat that purposely? There are two types of cholesterol, bad and good ones. Cholesterol is a substance found in the blood. It is made in the liver and is needed for healthy cell membranes. However, too much cholesterol in the blood increases the risk of heart disease, and of diseased arteries.

Good and bad cholesterol

The bloodstream transports cholesterol around the body attached to proteins. The combination of cholesterol and protein is called lipoprotein, and there are two types.

Low-density lipoproteins - LDLs - carry cholesterol from the liver to the cells.

High-density lipoproteins - HDLs - carry excess cholesterol back to the liver.

LDLs are often called 'bad' cholesterol because they lead to fat building up on artery walls, which causes heart disease. HDLs are often called ‘good’ cholesterol because they help to stop fat building up in the arteries.

Benefits of Chicken Skin

It's true that chicken skin mainly consists of fat. However, while many times the fat found in animal foods is saturated fat -- which can increase your cholesterol and heart disease risk when eaten in excess -- the majority of fat in chicken skin is actually heart-healthy unsaturated fats, according to Harvard School of Public Health. The U.S Department of Agriculture [USDA] National Nutrient Database reports that 1 ounce of chicken skin contains about 3 grams of saturated fat, but provides 8 grams of unsaturated fat.

Drawbacks of Eating the Skin

The main drawback of keeping the skin on your chicken is that it adds extra calories and saturated fat to your meal. The USDA reports that 1 cup of cooked chicken breast without the skin contains 231 calories, but a cup of cooked chicken breast with skin contains 276 calories. While the majority of fat in chicken skin is unsaturated fat, the skin does contain 3 grams of saturated fat per ounce -- which is the same amount present in 1 cup of cooked chicken breast. The American Heart Association suggests limiting saturated fat in your diet to 5 or 6 percent of your total daily calorie intake, which equates to about 13 grams of saturated fat daily when eating 2,000 calories.

Consumption of unsaturated fat is believed to be associated with lowered bad cholesterol and blood pressure levels. However, there is no mistaking that chicken skin is fattening, so, whether or not you are watching your weight, you should not eat too much of it.

 The next time you cook or eat a piece of chicken, be sure to leave some of the skin on. For years, nutritionists and heart doctors have advised us to remove this fattening part of the bird before enjoying it, but as it turns out, chicken skin really isn’t as bad as was originally believed.

In addition to making cooked chicken juicier and more flavourful, chicken skin contains a good amount of heart healthy unsaturated fat. In fact, the majority of fat in chicken skin is unsaturated, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Consumption of unsaturated fat is believed to be associated with lowered bad cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

“Chicken meat, and in particular the skin of the chicken, has more omega-6 fatty acids than any other meat. Omega-6 is an unsaturated fat that increases inflammation in the body and is the driving force behind cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. How you cook the skin is important, too. If you are going to bread or batter and then deep-fry the chicken, then you are turning this whole food into something positively unhealthy. “Every step of processing usually takes a whole food further and further away from its most healthy state,” Smith explains. “As soon as you bread and deep-fry foods you are simply adding more empty calories.”

Commercially reared chicken’s skin is toxic

“Back in the day, people ate the whole bird, skin, fat and all, and they did not have any problems. But this was because the chicken was reared well, unlike today, where most chickens available commercially are injected with hormones and antibiotics and are just highly unnatural. And the sad part is that whatever chemicals are consumed by the chicken is stored in the fat,” says Rucker. “Since the skin contains mostly fat, this part of the bird can be highly toxic when eaten. If you know that the chicken has been reared well, however, then go ahead and consume the skin, but do so in small amounts.”

Then there are other arguments why chicken skin is good, so really one get confused. At a recent presentation, I made my audience gasp when I suggested they stop peeling the skin off chicken. And for heaven’s sake, stop paying top dollar for boneless, skinless breasts. After all chicken is a whole food. Until you start taking things away.

Ever really think about that?

When we talk about whole foods, we mean food that is minimally processed. A product of nature – in its natural form. Eating a whole food means eating all the edible parts. For instance, the fat found naturally in milk. The stem on kale. The skin on apples and potatoes and yes, chicken.

But we’ve been told that chicken skin is terrible for us. Unlike beef, which is marbled with fat, the fat on chicken lies just below the skin. We strip it away and breed our chickens to be less and less fatty. This quest for a low fat diet, it hasn’t exactly worked. Just look around.

Let’s talk about the kind of fat you’ll find in chicken skin. It’s mainly monounsaturated, in the form of oleic acid. Oleic acid, also found in olive oil, is known for beneficial effects on cholesterol. Of course there are also saturated fats in chicken skin. This is no accident. Nature provides what the body needs. If you’re in the calorie-counting camp, there’s roughly a 50 calorie difference between chicken with or without skin. Seems a small price to pay for a huge increase in flavour and satisfaction. Did I mention flavour and satisfaction? When your food satisfies your taste buds and body’s cravings, you don’t need to eat as much or as often. Sugar cravings subside and you can go back to loving food instead of fearing it. Fat doesn’t make you fat. If it did, the low fat, non-fat craze would have given us a country of slender people. Instead, we have an obesity epidemic. Eat the skin that occurs naturally on chicken. Naturally occurring fats make chicken delicious, as-is. Cooking is easy.

People eat chicken nuggets and fried chicken from take away shops and I have my doubts if they think for a moment about the health aspect of eating chicken skin as well. After eating that they may drink sugary fizzy drinks as well. That again the doctors say sugary drinks are not good but would they think or listen to them. The problem arises when they go over the limit that means eating that kind of food frequently and drinking sugary drinks. It is better to know your limits to look after your healthy. Any comments are welcomed This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Dr Hector Perera


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