The most important nutritional fact to remember about chicken meat is that it is an excellent source of protein!
Many people incorrectly believe that chicken doesn’t provide the same density or quality of protein that red meat delivers – the reality is quite different.
Some other key facts about the nutritional quality of chicken*:
- Cooked chicken breast is lower in fat than other meats
- Cooked chicken is lower in saturated fat than beef or lamb
- Cooked chicken is a source of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B12
- Cooked chicken provides essential vitamins and minerals, particularly niacin, vitamins B6 and B12 and minerals potassium, selenium, magnesium and zinc
- Lean stir-fried chicken breast is lower in fat than stir-fired pork, beef or lamb
If you want to compare the nutritional content of different meats, here is a simple tool you can play with that allows you to select different meats and compare their nutrient profiles: http://www.chicken.org.au/database.php This tool uses data available from FSANZ Food Composition Database which can be accessed in full at http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/science/monitoringnutrients/afcd/Pages/default.aspx and NHRMC Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand Including Recommended Dietary Intakes which can be accessed at https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/sites/default/files/images/nutrient-refererence-dietary-intakes.pdf or the executive summary at https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/nutrient-reference-values-australia-and-new-zealand-including-recommended-dietary-intakes
Make sure you compare like with like (for example, only compare raw with raw, cooked with cooked; or highest quality cuts with their equivalent in other meat types, as I have done in the example used below to illustrate the sort of information you can generate.
Remember that different cuts of chicken vary in terms of their nutrient profile. This is particularly the case for fat levels. Since most of the fat in chicken is in the skin, cuts which are generally eaten with skin-on or which have a high proportion of skin, such as wings, will have a higher fat content than cuts generally eaten with skin off, like breast fillet. Fortunately (a) it is easy to remove the skin and to trim any surplus fat from chicken meat and, (b) breast meat is not only the leanest part of the chicken, but it represents almost half of the edible meat you get on a whole chicken (representing between 41 and 49% of the total weight of edible chicken on a carcase).
You can also use our online comparison tool to compare the nutrient content of different cuts of chicken, or different cooking styles.
So, feel free to feel good about eating chicken…it’s a great source of nutrition!
*Chicken: Substantiation of Nutrition and Health Claims, Lisa Yates Adv APD and Nicole Senior APD, November 2019