If you’re health conscious, you’ve probably heard that you should always pass on the chicken skin; while flavorful, it’s just added fat, which therefore contributes to weight gain, a higher blood pressure, and other risk factors for illness. Like most advice for healthy living, the truth is a little more nuanced than we’ve been led to believe. The short of it is, chicken skin isn’t all bad for your health.
Believe it or not, there are some health benefits from eating chicken skin; this has been researched and proven by health experts from the University of Harvard. According to their studies, the oft-feared chicken skin can actually help your heart.
In the past, any food with a high-fat content was automatically shunned, largely in part to the misinformation that fat=bad. While there is some rationale for this belief, the caveat is that it’s really the type of fat (and the amount of it) that makes a diet healthy or unhealthy. Take, for instance, the avocado- a fatty fruit also once poorly regarded, but now recognized as a staple in healthy diets.
What do the avocado and chicken have in common? Unsaturated fat.
Unsaturated fat is actually beneficial to heart health because it helps to lower blood pressure as well as cholesterol, which decreases the risk of heart disease.
So, chicken skin is actually good for you. What next? If you’re concerned about a huge jump in calories, don’t be. The difference between a skinless serving of chicken compared to one cooked with the skin on is around 50 calories. That’s a pretty small price to pay. Also, consider the flavor chicken skin will add to your meals. You might even take the opportunity to pass on the salt, which has very real negative effects on your body when taken in excess.
With all this talk of cooking chicken skin, you may be thinking of all the grease you’ll be putting into your body. It’s not a pretty picture. Fortunate then, that chicken skin actually works as a barrier. That’s right- the skin prevents excess oil from entering the meat of the chicken by absorbing it before it can soak in. This can actually add extra flavor to the skin.Related: Why You Should Pound Chicken Breast Before Cooking
Even if you aren’t completely convinced, or now even less interested in eating the oily chicken skin, it’s still beneficial to cook chicken with the skin on to absorb excess oil, and then discard it before dining. Either way, if you make sure to cook your chicken in healthy oil, to begin with, you can definitely cut down on potentially harmful substances entering your body. Olive oil is a good choice.
Like everything else, moderation is the key when it comes to chicken skin. It definitely shouldn’t be eaten in excess, but consuming it isn’t all bad either; it provides some omega-3 fats, which benefit the body. It also contains some omega-6, which can have adverse health effects. With that in mind, chicken skin certainly shouldn’t be on the menu every day, but it won’t hurt as part of a balanced diet every so often.