Is the Chicken We Eat Today Actually Good and Healthy for Us?
Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Whether it’s Chick-Fil-A, Popeyes, or KFC, there is no denying that America loves chicken. As a matter of fact, according to the National Chicken Council, Americans consume on average 93 pounds of chicken per year. But is consuming chicken actually good for us? Due to recent stories about antibiotics being injected into our poultry, I am a little hesitant when it comes to buying chicken. Is the chicken we consume today actually good for us?
Chicken Has the Same Cholesterol as Red Meat
Contrary to popular belief, white chicken is not as healthy as you may think. According to NBC News, in a recent study conducted by Dr. Ronald Krauss concluded that white meat has the same effect on your cholesterol levels as red meat. The small study unveiled that consuming high amounts of either red meat or white poultry increases blood cholesterol. Researchers also measured levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) in participants and found that the levels in both sources of meat were high compared to those who followed a nonmeat diet.
Labels Are Misleading
With recent documentaries and news stories on chicken and their dangerous antibiotics, there is a good reason why people are wary of chicken. We mostly tend to trust the labels on our foods when we go grocery shopping, however chicken has it’s own set of rules. When you walk into the meat aisle and read the words “hormone-free or “no added hormones,” it is merely a marketing ploy. The FDA and the USDA made adding hormones to chicken and poultry illegal in 1952. Free-range is a new term that has been added to chicken labels recently. It is nice to imagine that before you picked up the chicken off the shelf, that the animal had a good life roaming acres of land and eating only plants filled with nutrients. Reality says otherwise. The USDA allows poultry farmers to label chicken as free-range if the animal had access to the outdoors. This does not mean that the animal necessarily was fed outside and that it is free of antibiotics.
It May Make You Resistant to Antibiotics
Poultry and red meat farms are breeding grounds for bacteria. A lot of antibiotics have been used to combat the deaths and diseases of animals kept in cages, but what happens when we expose animals repeatedly to these chemicals? According to the CDC, it’s antibiotic resistance. Due to the poor conditions kept on factory farms, “supergerms” are developing, which are typically new strains of bacteria that become antibiotic-resistant. This makes diseases in humans harder to treat. Around 70% of the antibiotics used in the US each year are given to animals that are used for food. An example of this would be the drug Vancomycin, it is used as a “last defense” when combating blood infections and pneumonia caused by staphylococcus bacteria is becoming obsolete because bacteria-resistant strains have developed in factory farms since animals are given this medicine as a growth stimulant.
Final Thoughts: Don’t Emphasize Chicken as Part of Your Diet
Despite people opting for chicken over red meat, both people in the US and the UK are eating 50% more protein than what their body actually needs. So regardless of the argument as to whether chicken is good or bad for you, you should enjoy it in moderation. When you consume too much protein your body will begin to store what it cannot burn as fat, which will make you gain weight and elevate your blood lipids. When buying chicken, be sure to read the labels and be aware of what FDA regulations are.