Why prefer chicken over mutton and beef

Red meat contains more saturated fatty acids and trans fats
Representational Pic
Representational Pic

When we have plateful of options, we often find it hard to choose. Choosing becomes even more difficult when we are on dieting and do not want to gamble with our diet.

Why we should we prefer chicken over other non vegetarian options?

Chicken is considered as white meat because it contains less myoglobin than red meat (beef, mutton). Chicken meat is a good source of  all essential and non-essential amino acids. Chicken meat has no carbohydrate and has less saturated fat than red meat. Saturated fat raises blood cholesterol and increase chances of  heart diseases. The American Heart Association recommends eating poultry, such as chicken, instead of red meats (beef and lamb). As red meats contain more saturated fatty acids and trans fats, they can raise  blood cholesterol and worsen underlying cardiovascular diseases.

However, saturated fatty acids are not the only compounds within red meats that influence the cardiovascular state. Daily consumption of red meat has been shown to triple blood levels of a chemical called trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), produced in the stomach and linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Researchers identify that as haem iron, which is abundant in red meat, is easily absorbed into the bloodstream and may be another risk factor for cardiovascular health. Chicken meat is also a good source of niacin, protein, selenium, vitamin B6, phosphorous, chlorine, pantothenic acid and vitamin B12. Skinless chicken breast has least amount of saturated fat. Thus  chicken meat can be preferred over red meat if you are conscious about your fat intake. White meat is also higher in omega-3 fatty acid. There is not much difference between white meat and red meat when it comes to protein content. Both the varieties offer 25-30 grams protein, per 100 grams. As per British Heart Foundation Researchers, from Northwestern and Cornell universities,  found that a higher intake of processed or unprocessed red meat (Mutton and beef) but not poultry or fish, was associated with a small increased risk of heart disease and  early death. White meat is rich in selenium. Selenium is important for cognitive ability as well as cardiovascular health. The World Health Organisation has classified red meat as a cancer-causing food. Consuming high amounts of red meat increases the chances of getting colorectal cancer.

Chicken is also always butchered  before the eyes of a consumer thus avoiding slaughtering of unhealthy birds. On the other hand beef and mutton has always an element of doubt regarding freshness of meat. Chicken is  most economical non vegetarian meal available in valley and other parts of country. If  we compare cost of all available non-veg options, it is half the price of beef and fish, one third the price of mutton, thus every section of society can afford it easily and can enjoy the taste of non-veg meal in their diet. Because of their inadequate balanced diet, poor people, living in low-income group are particularly vulnerable to a number of diseases. Eating low cost  poultry meat and eggs can substantially benefit such people, especially pregnant women, children and the elderly people of society.

There is a growing evidence that poultry meat can make a significant difference in fighting child malnutrition. Unlike Mutton, beef and fish which are available in  town-markets only, chicken is available in each and every corner of valley. Many varieties of chicken  can be prepared at home.

Chicken is not only a protein source but also adds tastes of various commonly available fresh vegetables and other local dried vegetable during winter in Kashmir valley. It is also very easy to cook. Cooking a chicken also saves tons of energy and time compared to mutton and beef.

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