Should We Eat More Chicken?

Widely available and easy to prepare, chicken has been identified as an essential source of nutrients in many diets. It is a valuable protein source that has been linked to a variety of health benefits. 

Is eating chicken good for you?

As with any other food item, we can question whether or not chicken meat is good for us. To make this decision, we need to consider several factors: the nutritional breakdown of chicken, how to prepare it healthily, what ways we should avoid preparing it, and how much chicken we need to eat so it forms part of a healthy, balanced diet. 

Nutritional Breakdown of Chicken

Standard chicken breast fillets can contain around 120 calories, 26 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fat.1 Darker cuts of the meat, like thighs or drumsticks, are more calorific due to the higher proportion of fat distribution. Healthline reports that chicken contains essential nutrients like the amino acid tryptophan, selenium, and B vitamins.2 

Tryptophan has been linked to higher levels of serotonin –  the feel-good chemical – in the brain, meaning consuming more chicken meat can put us in a better mood.3 Selenium is responsible for proper immune function, thyroid health, and fertility. B vitamins contribute to energy production and brain health. The B vitamins in chicken meat are B6, which aids blood sugar regulation, and B12, which protects against anaemia.4

Benefits of Eating Chicken

Eating chicken contributes to several health benefits. It is considered a nutritious addition to a healthy and balanced diet. Regarded as white meat, chicken is a healthier option compared to red meats, like beef or pork, because it contains less saturated fats. Saturated fats pose a risk of raising blood cholesterol levels and increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.5 As chicken is a type of meat that is low in calories and high in protein, it is excellent for those who wish to lose weight and maintain lean body mass. The protein content in chicken can also contribute to muscle growth when paired with resistance training, as the proteins in the meat are rich and high-quality. Moreover, the calcium metabolism involved with protein is optimal for bone health. 

Consequences of Eating too much Chicken

There are some consequences to consider with overeating chicken. The idea to follow is that chicken is a critical component of a healthy diet, but it must be consumed in moderation depending on how it is prepared. Consuming a wide variety of chicken that is breaded and fried can lead to individuals consuming too much salt and more saturated fats than expected.2 These varieties, like chicken nuggets and chicken tenders, are usually high in unhealthy fats and calories. Processed chicken varieties, such as lunch meats, can also pose many health risks. 

Healthy Preparations of Chicken

There are various ways to prepare chicken. One of the best ways to prepare chicken is grilling or baking it. These methods are lower in fat and calories when compared to other ways of preparing chicken. Stir-frying with a bit of oil and vegetables is another healthy way to prepare chicken. 

It is also essential to consider how chicken should be safely prepared to avoid food poisoning or foodborne illness. Fresh meat must be refrigerated within 2 hours of purchase and frozen if not consumed within two days to prevent bacterial growth. If the meat has been frozen, it must be adequately thawed before it is prepared and consumed, or it increases the risk of suffering from a foodborne illness.6 When cooking the chicken, it is essential to treat it to the correct temperature internally, around 75 degrees celsius at the thickest point of the meat, avoiding any bones. 

Unhealthy Preparations of Chicken

Unhealthy preparations of chicken can cause extra calories, fat, and sodium to be added to one’s diet. Frying chicken is associated with higher saturated fat and calorie intake. Rotisserie and processed lunch meat chicken products are associated with increased sodium intake. 

What is the recommended amount of chicken I can eat in a week?

Based on recommendations from the United States National Chicken Council and the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the average person should be consuming around 26 ounces of poultry meat, including chicken, per week.7 This is approximately 3.5 ounces of chicken per day. This should be boneless and skinless chicken breast as it is the leanest form of meat. It provides an excellent nutritional value of 3.6 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, and 85 milligrams of cholesterol.8 

Importance of Eating a Balanced Diet

Eating a balanced diet is vital as it fulfils an individual’s nutritional needs. To stay healthy, we must consume a certain amount of calories and nutrients every day. Balanced diets provide the necessary nutrients without going over the recommended caloric intake. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, foods should come from the five food groups and be balanced on a plate with half of the plate taken up by fruits and vegetables and the other half being taken up by proteins and grains with a diary item on the side.9 Poultry meat is included in the protein food group. Research has shown that serving around 25-30 grams of protein per meal helps us feel more full and promotes better weight management.10 Living at a healthy weight helps with reducing the risk of heart disease. 


Chicken is an essential component of any balanced diet due to its numerous health benefits and nutritious value. When prepared correctly in a healthy manner, it provides us with necessary vitamins and nutrients that improve and maintain various areas of our health, like brain and heart health. It is possible that unhealthy preparations of chicken can affect our health negatively, so we must be conscious of how it affects our health so we can limit consumption of the harmful varieties accordingly. We should be eating more chicken if our diets do not already consist of such a nutrient-rich protein, but always with the mindset of eating only what is well within our dietary needs. 


  1. WebMD Editorial. ‘Health Benefits of Chicken’. WebMD, Accessed 4 July 2022
  2. ‘Is Chicken Good for You?’ Healthline, 20 Oct. 2020, Accessed 4 July 2022
  3. Jenkins, Trisha A., et al. ‘Influence of Tryptophan and Serotonin on Mood and Cognition with a Possible Role of the Gut-Brain Axis’. Nutrients, vol. 8, no. 1, Jan. 2016, p. 56. PubMed Central,
  4. ‘B Vitamins: Folate, B-6 and B-12’. Consumer Health News | HealthDay, 25 July 2021,
  5. ‘Picking Healthy Proteins’. Www.Heart.Org, Accessed 4 July 2022
  6. Hudson, Joseph. ‘How Long Can Raw Chicken Sit Out?’ Chicken Scratch | The Place for Chicken Breeds, Raising Tips, 22 July 2021,
  7. ‘How Often Should I Eat Chicken? How Much Chicken Should I Eat?’ Chicken Check In, 7 Jan. 2020,  
  8. FoodData Central. Accessed 4 July 2022  
  9. (website no longer exists)
  10. Leidy, Heather J., et al. ‘The Role of Protein in Weight Loss and Maintenance’. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 101, no. 6, June 2015, pp. 1320S-1329S. PubMed,  
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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