Chicken soup, chicken stew, chicken chili, chicken breast on salad…chicken in almost any form is great for your health—unless you are the chicken of course!
In a 2009 FAO study of poultry in five districts of Arua, Kanungu, Lira, Jinja and Tororo, 83 per cent of the respondents were reported to keep chickens followed by goats at 67 per cent.
This goes to confirm that poultry is a chief source of money, nutrition and social value. Apart from being consumed for food, chickens are widely used at social functions such as marriage.
Almost every Ugandan home that has a yard will have some chicken wandering around it. For those that do not raise their own chicken, there are live chicken in the market or frozen plucked chicken in the supermarket.
In many areas, chicken is a delicacy reserved for special meals and occasions. However, depending on how we cook our chicken, we may be getting the right value or getting less of what we need and more of the undesirable additions into our diet.
The USA’s Macdonald’s fast food house publishes a nutritional analysis of its menu items in order to help its customers make informed choices on balance, variety and moderation in diet. In Uganda, you will be hard pressed to find an eatery where the contents of your meal can be split to reflect the calorie content, fat, sodium and cholesterol levels.
The cholesterol levels in chicken are comparable to those of beef and pork depending on the particular cut of the meat. On the whole, chicken is a healthy food. However, it would be wrong to lump all the chicken we eat into one basket. The truth is that not all chicken meat is the same. Certain cuts of chicken are healthier.
It is however easy to fall into the trap of consuming unhealthy chicken dishes for example fried chicken and chicken prepared with lots of oil will have lots of calories.
The healthy way to prepare chicken is by grilling, roasting or baking it, steaming it to make luwombo . Deep frying or stir frying chicken adds more calories to the meal.
Looking at the overall nutritional value of chicken, poultry meat is full of essential nutrients that the body needs and has less of the unhealthy qualities that other meats have. Chicken is a great source of low-fat protein and is also rich in potassium, calcium and contains no carbohydrates.
Chicken is a great source of selenium, a trace element that has been shown to fight cancer. Selenium is also thought to have a positive effect on the incidence of other degenerative diseases, including inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases and infections.
In addition, each serving of chicken contains 40 per cent of your daily recommended vitamin B-6 intake.
Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is found in plentiful amounts in poultry and meat. Vitamin B3 is responsible for converting carbohydrates to energy and maintaining the health of the body’s cells.
Eating some poultry will increase the serotonin levels in your brain, enhance your mood, blasting stress, and lulling you to sleep.
Eating chicken breast suppresses and controls homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid that can cause cardiovascular disease if levels are high in the body. Fortunately for us, Chicken is also rich in phosphorus, an essential mineral that supports your teeth and bones, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system function.
Chicken is high in retinol, alpha and beta-carotene, and lycopene, all derived from vitamin A, and all vital for healthy eyesight.