One of America’s favorite foods is also one of the most healthful. The average person eats just under two pounds of chicken a week, or nearly 94 pounds a year, according to the National Chicken Council. Chicken is an especially smart choice when you’re trying to lose extra pounds because it’s rich in protein yet low in calories and unhealthy fats. It’s also loaded with essential vitamins and minerals that help you stay strong and energetic. Best of all, you can enjoy the health benefits of chicken in so many delicious and satisfying ways as you make progress towards your weight loss goal.
Here’s seven reasons why chicken is the perfect protein for your healthy diet:
1. Potent Protein
According to Cleveland Clinic, there are nine essential amino acids in “complete” protein. They explain that the body uses protein to “form muscle, transport nutrients, and build and repair tissue.” Research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that study subjects who ate a high-protein, low-glycemic index diet were more likely to lose and keep off weight than the other four diets in the study. Since your body doesn’t store protein as it does carbs and fats, you need a daily supply from healthy sources like chicken. Due to its protein powers, chicken is considered a PowerFuel on the Nutrisystem program.
2. Low Calorie, Low Fat
Other meats, such as beef and pork, are also rich in complete protein, says Cleveland Clinic. However, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), they have more calories and fat than chicken. A two-ounce serving of ground beef contains 145 calories and 11.5 grams of fat. A similar portion of pork loin provides 94 calories and 4.7 grams of fat. Skinless chicken breast is the winner, with only 68 calories and 1.5 grams of fat in a two-ounce serving.
3. Punch of Potassium
Along with the 12.7 grams of protein in that two-ounce serving of chicken, you get 188.5 milligrams of potassium, says the USDA. According to Medical News Today, potassium is a mineral that has been shown to decrease blood pressure, decrease the risk of stroke and protect muscles and bones. “The primary functions of potassium in the body include regulating fluid balance and controlling the electrical activity of the heart and other muscles,” they explain.
4. Cholesterol Control
According to Cleveland Clinic, eating foods high in saturated fat has the potential to increase harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. “The fact is, elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad cholesterol, is a major cause of heart disease,” they explain. A serving of boneless, skinless chicken breast comes with less than one gram of saturated fat versus the 4.5 grams in the same amount of ground beef, says the USDA.
5. Discouraging Diabetes
Each bite of chicken also comes with a healthy dose of niacin, says the USDA. Niacin is B-complex vitamin that is linked to a reduced risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and diabetes, according to a recent study published in the scientific journal Nature.
6. Weight Management
Chicken breast is a rich source of two important micronutrients, selenium and zinc, says the USDA. According to a study, published in the journal Nutrients, high dietary selenium intake is associated with a lower body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and total body fat percentage. Another group of scientists reported in Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin that zinc consumption also improves BMI and body weight.
7. Endless Versatility
Not only does chicken provide health benefits, it’s also very versatile. With so many delicious options, you’ll never get tired of this tasty lean protein. Nutrisystem offers you a wide selection of chicken dishes to pick from, each of them tender, flavorful and perfectly portioned. Stock up on our Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Chicken Fajita Bowl and Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast for healthy meals ready in minutes. When you’re making Flex meals, keep in mind that a two-ounce skinless chicken breast is one PowerFuel serving.
Need some fresh ideas for preparing your chicken? Try out a few of our quick and easy favorites:
Sweet And Sour Chicken >
You can be sitting down to eat this tasty, homemade dish faster than a takeout order can be delivered.
Boneless Buffalo Chicken Bites >
Party food can be part of your healthy diet with these lightened up chicken bites that are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
Chicken Lettuce Wraps >
Enjoy the health benefits of chicken wrapped in crispy lettuce. For a break from your everyday sandwich, mix up a batch of chicken and veggies with Asian-style spices and stuff them into crunchy lettuce leaves.
BBQ Chicken Nachos >
Take the Nutrisystem BBQ Seasoned Chicken to a whole new level of satisfaction with fresh red bell peppers, onions, cilantro, cheddar cheese and whole wheat tortillas.
Pizza Stuffed Chicken >
Add zesty pepperoni and creamy cheese to juicy, tender chicken and you’ve got a dish filled with health benefits that the whole family will clamor for.