Skinless, boneless chicken breast has become a mainstay of the American diet. Pair that with grilling, and you have a winner. Grilling your chicken instead of pan-frying or roasting means you do not have to use oils or other fats that will soak into the meat. Skinless chicken breast is lean, low-calorie and provides several nutrients and all nine essential amino acids.
Calories and Macronutrients
Chicken breasts usually weigh about 6 to 8 ounces, with servings calculated at 3 to 4 ounces. Each serving of boneless, skinless chicken breast contains anywhere from 110 to 130 calories. The amount of fat is negligible with 0 to 2 g -- and they contain no carbohydrates. Each serving provides you with 22 to 27 g of protein, which is more than half of the recommended daily intake for adults.
Vitamins and Minerals
Based on a 2,000-calorie diet, a serving of chicken breast provides 2 percent of your recommended intake of vitamin C, 6 percent each for iron, zinc, thiamin and riboflavin, and 8 percent of magnesium and vitamin B-12. It also gives you 25 percent of the phosphorus you need daily for strong bones and teeth, 30 percent of vitamin B-6 for antibody and red blood cell production, and a full 70 percent of niacin -- or vitamin B-3 -- for your digestive system, skin and nerves.
Grilling is a healthy way to cook your chicken breast, but you may want to adjust your grilling method. Cooking chicken and other “muscle meat” at very high heat, such as with pan frying or over an open flame, produces by-products that cause cancer in animals. Whether they are associated with cancer in humans is as yet unclear. The National Cancer Institute cites studies that associate a high consumption of barbecued, fried or well-done meat with colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer. You can reduce your risk by grilling smaller cuts of meat that cook quickly and keeping it away from high flames. Avoid eating your meat blackened or charred.
Removing the skin and bone from your chicken breast will not remove the cholesterol, which is contained in the meat rather than the skin. You will get about 70 mg of cholesterol in a serving of skinless chicken breast. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than 300 mg of cholesterol per day if you are healthy and no more than 200 mg per day if you have, or are at risk for, heart disease. Eating a whole chicken breast -- 2 servings -- will give you 46 percent or 70 percent, respectively, of your recommended cholesterol intake.
- MeatPoultryNutrition.org: Protein and Health -- Your Body Depends On It
- My Fitness Pal: Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breast
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Nutrition for Everyone -- Protein
- The New York Times: Health Guide -- Phosphorus in Diet
- The New York Times: Health Guide -- Vitamin B6
- The New York Times: Health Guide -- Niacin
- National Cancer Institute; Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer…; October 2010
- University of Virginia Health System; Good-For-You Grilling; Cynthia Moore
- U.S. Department of Agriculture; Dietary Guidelines for Americans -- Fatty Acids and Cholesterol; 2010