In 2013, chicken became more popular than beef in the United States for the first time in a century, with the average American consuming 60 pounds annually. According to a market research study conducted at Oklahoma State University, the majority of this chicken is consumed in the form of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, often sold under the name chicken fillets. Chicken fillets are a versatile and healthy alternative to red meat.
Low in Fat
A typical commercial chicken fillet serving weighs about 113 grams, or 4 ounces, and does not include skin. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the average chicken fillet of this size provides 122 calories, of which approximately 31 calories come from 3.4 grams of total fat. Of this fat, 0.62 grams are supplied by saturated fat, which is 4 percent of the daily limit recommended for a 2,000-calorie diet. Chicken fillets have 73 milligrams of cholesterol -- 24 percent of the recommended daily limit for healthy adults.
Rich in Protein
A 4-ounce chicken fillet contains 23 grams of protein. Men require about 56 grams of protein each day, and a chicken fillet would fulfill 41 percent of this requirement. Women, who require 46 grams of protein daily, could meet 50 percent of their recommended intake with a chicken fillet. Getting more of your protein from poultry and less from meat like beef or pork may lower your risk for developing cancer and heart disease.
Excellent Source of B Vitamins
Chicken fillets contain a high concentration of B vitamins like pantothenic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-12, thiamin and vitamin B-6. Each 4-ounce fillet contains 0.86 milligrams of vitamin B-6, or 66 percent of the recommended daily allowance for healthy adults. A chicken fillet also supplies more than 54 percent of a man's RDA of niacin and 61 percent of a woman's niacin requirement with its 8.6 milligrams of the nutrient.
Dense with Selenium and Phosphorus
Men and women need approximately 55 micrograms of the antioxidant mineral selenium each day to support the function of the immune and endocrine systems. An average chicken fillet contains approximately 30 micrograms of selenium, fulfilling 54 percent of the required daily intake. Chicken fillets are also a rich source of phosphorus, with 224 milligrams in a 4-ounce serving. Adults should have 700 milligrams of phosphorus daily, and a chicken fillet can supply 32 percent of this need.
Watch for Added Sodium
Many commercially packaged chicken breast fillets are enhanced with a high-salt solution to yield juicier meat. An enhanced fillet that contains 440 milligrams of sodium supplies almost 20 percent of the 2,300-milligram limit advised for healthy adults, says registered dietitian Janet Helm. If you're on a sodium-restricted diet and can have no more than 1,500 milligrams per day, a chicken fillet may fulfill about 30 percent of your limit. To keep your sodium intake low, Helm suggests looking for chicken that contains no more than 70 milligrams of sodium per serving.
- Priceonomics: The Golden Age of Poultry
- Oklahoma State University: Market Research Study - Organic, Free-Range and Pasture Poultry
- Archives of Internal Medicine: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality: Results From 2 Prospective Cohort Studies
- Just Bare: Fresh Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Fillets - Family Pack Size
- Pilgrim's: Boneless Skinless Breast Fillets
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Full Report (All Nutrients) - 05314, Chicken, Broilers or Fryers, Breast, Skinless, Boneless, Meat Only, Enhanced, Raw
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Basic Report - 05314, Chicken, Broilers or Fryers, Breast, Skinless, Boneless, Meat Only, Enhanced, Raw
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine)
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B-3 (Niacin)
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Selenium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Phosphorus
- Cooking Light: The Hidden Sodium in Chicken
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Most Americans Should Consume Less Sodium