Say the word "chitterlings," and you might think of Southern U.S. cuisine, but this dish is served all over the country. Chitterlings, also called chitlins, are cleaned pig intestines prepared as food. Often the chitterlings are cooked with vegetables for flavor. This dish provides a range of nutritional value, including protein, vegetables and minerals.
Consume a 3 oz. serving of simmered chitterlings, and you take in 10.6 g of protein. The amount of protein you require each day for energy, muscle growth and immune function varies widely depending on your genetics, age and athletic activity -- 10 to 35 percent of your daily calories should come from protein sources. If you eat a 2,000-calorie diet, this equates to 50 to 175 g of protein each day, as 1 gram of protein equals 4 calories. Thus, if you eat at the lower end of the scale, a serving of chitterlings provides a considerable quantity of what you require.
Three ounces of chitterlings provides you with 22.9 micrograms of selenium, a trace mineral that helps with thyroid function. The selenium in chitterlings might also reduce your risk of heart disease and asthma, as well as keep your immune system healthy. Adult men and women require 55 mcg of selenium each day, which makes chitterlings a smart choice for helping to meet your daily needs.
Chitterlings serve as a source of zinc, a mineral your body uses to heal wounds, grow cells and metabolize carbohydrates. The daily recommended intake of zinc stands at 8 to 11 mg, and a serving of chitterlings introduces 1.6 mg of this mineral into your diet. Zinc is also vital for your sense of smell and taste, and your immune function.
A 3 oz. serving of chitterlings has 0.4 mcg of vitamin B-12. This might not seem like a large quantity, but your body needs only small amounts of this vitamin -- adults require 2.4 mcg daily, although your needs increase slightly when you are pregnant or breast feeding. Vitamin B-12, also known as cobalamin, keeps your skin, eyes and hair healthy, and it helps regulate the nervous system. The vitamin B-12 in chitterlings is important for red blood cell production as well.