Q: Is chicken a healthier choice. What is a smart chicken? ……….. Diet Overload
A: That might be a loaded question or questions. When you see the average recommended food choices for people trying to eat healthy, chicken is definitely on the list. And within certain limits it can be very healthy.
A large number of questions we get for Ask Madalyn are concerned with the food we eat and the health issues related to it. The chicken question seems pretty benign and a no-brainer, but a little research shows that it is not quite that simple. The fear-mongers and avid vegetarians among us would throw all meat out, throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Consumer Reports’ most recent study of chicken indicates that the contamination of chicken and how it is processed has improved little since their 2007 study when eight out of ten chickens were shown to harbor pathogens like salmonella and/or campylobacter. While proper handling and cooking of chicken when you get it home will help minimize the risks, there are also other things that can’t be cooked out. Instead of grossing you out with the types of contaminants and cancers prevalent in a high percentage of chicken widely available, I will give you Consumer Reports’ recommendations. The large name-brand chicken distributors need to be avoided, some registering more than 80 percent testing positive for one or both pathogens. Consumer Reports indicated that Perdue’s numbers were best among the big growers with a 56% clean product. Read—the best of them had a 44% contaminated rate.
Among the cleanest overall were air-chilled broilers (a slaughterhouse process in which carcasses are refrigerated and may be misted, rather than dunked into cold chlorinated water.) Also known as smart chickens, this process seems to help keep down the exterior contaminants.
Chicken is filled with selenium, Vitamin B3 and Vitamin B6, all very healthy nutrients. The trick is to get the benefits without the bad effects. Organic seems to be the most reliable way to eat chicken more safely and has been shown to have more of the nutrients and fewer contaminants. Organic-chicken growers are legally prohibited from using sewage sludge as fertilizer, synthentic chemicals not approved by the National Organic Program of the USDA, or generically modified organisms (GMOs)- any plant, animal or microorganism that has been altered through genetic engineering—the production process. Chicken labeled as ’natural’ don’t meet those standards.
As far as being healthy, be aware that most chicken is still 56% fat, about the same as a piece of broiled lean steak. So if eating a lower fat diet is your goal there will be other less fattening choices.
You ask, is there anything left that is safe to eat? Do I have to grow everything myself? Personally I am so impressed with our body’s ability to function as well as it does given all the junk and poisons we put in there on a regular basis. But it is taking its toll, the accumulation of toxins is aging us prematurely, increasing our cancer rate exponentially and who knows what is left to be discovered.
Have a question? Is there something you’ve always wondered about? Ask Madalyn invites your questions.
- Wednesday, 15 August 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Ask Madalyn