Americans are eating more chicken than ever. According to the American Meat Institute, the modern American consumes more than 85 pounds of chicken annually, compared to 40 pounds per person in 1970. Chicken contains less fat, saturated fat and cholesterol per serving than red meats like beef and pork. A 2012 study in the "Archives of Internal Medicine" determined that swapping one serving per day of red meat for poultry like chicken can lower your risk of dying from heart disease by as much as 19 percent. Maximize the health benefits of chicken by using a healthy, low-fat, low-calorie cooking method.
Use the Grill
Done correctly, grilled chicken is not only healthy but tender and flavorful. "How to Grill" author Steven Raichlen tells Bon Appetit that the key to grilling any cut of chicken, from boneless breasts to bone-in drumsticks or thighs, is to first marinate the meat and then to use the indirect grilling method with the grill's lid in place. Always grill chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit and let the finished meat rest for a few minutes before serving. Serve grilled chicken with grilled vegetables.
Bake in the Oven
Marion Nestle, a New York University professor and nutrition expert, says that baking should top your list of healthy ways to cook chicken. Nestle advises rubbing the chicken parts with olive oil, seasoning them on all sides with your choice of herbs or spices and baking the meat at 350 degrees Fahrenheit surrounded with chunks of vegetables such as potatoes or carrots, garlic cloves or slices of lemon. For the least amount of fat per serving, remove and discard the skin on each piece of chicken before baking.
Poach in Liquid
Poaching chicken requires no added fat and yields meat that can be served as is or cut up and used later in salads, casseroles, sandwiches and pasta dishes. Any cut of chicken can be poached, but The Kitchn recipe editor Emma Christensen recommends using boneless or bone-in chicken breasts with the skin removed for the fewest calories and the most versatility. Put the chicken in a large pot and cover it with water, wine, broth or a combination. Add flavor-enhancers like garlic, onions, sprigs of fresh herbs, salt or peppercorns, if desired, and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat so that the mixture is at a simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Break Out the Steamer
Like poaching, steaming chicken requires no added fat. In this method, the chicken is placed above, not in, boiling liquid in a covered stockpot that contains a steamer insert or a commercially available steamer. Any liquid can be used, including water, broth, juice or wine. Add vegetables, spices or herbs such as onions, carrots, garlic or rosemary to the liquid for steamed chicken that has extra flavor, or marinate the chicken before cooking. Steam the chicken in a single, uncrowded layer for approximately eight to 10 minutes or until the meat is done. Thicken the liquid to serve with the meat or save it for another use.
- American Meat Institute: U.S. Meat and Poultry Production & Consumption - An Overview
- Harvard School of Public Health: Protein
- Archives of Internal Medicine: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality - Results from 2 Prospective Cohort Studies
- Bon Appetit: Ask a Grillmaster
- The Atlantic: The Healthiest Way to Eat Chicken
- The Kitchn: How to Poach Chicken Breasts
- Recipetips.com: Steaming Chicken