Sources: Available upon request.
Benefits of chicken meat vs. other meats
The chicken meat quality is high and consistent, it has a low saturated fat content, and it can be enriched with some essential nutrients.
Chicken meat is a white meat, distinguished from other meats such as beef and lamb by its lower iron content (0.7 mg vs. 2 mg/100 g).
Breast meat contains less than 3 g of fat/100 g. An average value for red meat (without skin) is 5 to 7 g/100 g. Approximately half of the fat in chicken meat is made up of desirable monounsaturated fats and only one third of less healthy saturated fats. There are much higher proportions of saturated fats in most red meat cuts, which also vary considerably in total fat. Therefore, chicken meat is considered a healthy meat.
Poultry meat does not contain trans fats that contribute to coronary heart disease while beef and lamb do contain these trans fats in large amounts. According to some studies, values of 2 to 5 percent have been reported for beef and up to 8 percent for lamb. The World Cancer Research Fund and others (Bingham, 2006) have suggested that consumption of large amounts (more than 500 g/week) of red meat, particularly processed meat, may be unhealthy.
Chicken meat is an important supplier of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids, and the amounts of these fatty acids are higher in chickens than in cattle, as well as of some oligoelements and vitamins. The recommended dietary intake of niacin can be achieved with 100 g of chicken meat per day for adults and 50 g for children.
Poultry meat can be enriched with several of the important dietary nutrients. A recent study (Yuet al., 2008) showed that by adding 0.24 mg selenium (as organic selenium) per kilogram of feed, the selenium content of breast meat increased from 8.6 μg to 41 μg/100 g. Selenium deficiency is becoming widespread among humans because soils are becoming depleted and therefore the foods grown in them have less selenium. The recommended dietary intake of selenium is 55 μg per day. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant and plays a role in the prevention of some forms of cancer. A selenium deficiency can cause Keshan disease, a heart disease in the young, common in parts of China, and cognitive impairment in adults. Enriched poultry meat could help alleviate this condition.
In conclusion, chicken meat makes many positive contributions to the diets of low-income people. Although not all meat is considered healthy, chicken meat is, and it is often more affordable than other meats. Its quality is high and consistent, it has a low saturated fat content, and it can be enriched with some essential nutrients, which is why it is highly appreciated all over the world.