You might shy away from eating a chicken gizzard, thinking it's best left for making gravy for a roasted chicken, but chicken gizzards are rich in nutrients, low in fat and often an inexpensive source of protein. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends adults eat between 5 and 6 1/2 ounces of protein from the protein foods group each day. Protein is essential to build, maintain and repair all cells, and it is especially important during growth periods, including pregnancy.
Low-Fat, Low-Sodium, High-Cholesterol
A 4-ounce serving of chicken gizzards has only 2.34 grams of fat, 78 milligrams of sodium and only 107 calories. Colorado State University says that most Americans consume more sodium than needed. The recommended daily upper limit is 2,300 milligrams for adults and 1,500 milligrams for those who suffer from any cardiovascular complications, are over the age of 51 or who are African-American. Moreover, a single serving of chicken gizzards has 272 milligrams of cholesterol, which is almost the 300-milligram daily maximum recommended by the American Heart Association. For adults with a history of heart disease, the recommended intake is 200 milligrams per day.
Iron can be found in every cell in your body. It is needed to produce blood cells and hemoglobin and myoglobin, two proteins that carry oxygen throughout your body. The Institute of Medicine recommends between 8 and 18 milligrams of iron per day for adult men and women. A 4-ounce serving of chicken gizzards contains almost 3 milligrams of iron. This is over 35 percent of the recommended amount for adult men and women over 51 years old, and it is almost 16 percent of the recommended amount for women under 51 years of age.
Also known as vitamin B-3, niacin helps your body produce a number of stress and sex hormones in your adrenal glands and helps with blood circulation. Niacin helps you maintain healthy hair, skin, liver and eyes while also supporting your immune system. The recommended daily allowance for niacin is 16 milligrams for adult men, 14 milligrams for adult women, 18 milligrams for pregnant women and 17 milligrams for breast-feeding women. A 4-ounce serving of gizzards has a little over 4 milligrams of niacin, which is between 23 percent and 30 percent of the RDA for adult men and women.
Riboflavin is also known as vitamin B-2, and like niacin, it helps keeps your skin, eyes, hair and liver healthy. A natural antioxidant, riboflavin protects your body from damage from free radicals, which are produced as your body breaks down food. Free radicals can increase your risk of developing cancer or heart disease. The recommended daily allowance of riboflavin is 1.3 milligrams for men, 1.1 milligrams for women, 1.4 milligrams for pregnant women and 1.6 milligrams for lactating women. With 0.262 milligram of riboflavin per 4-ounce serving, chicken gizzards provide between 16 percent and almost 24 percent of the RDA for adult men and women.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Chicken, Gizzards, All Classes, Raw
- U.S. Department of Agriculture ChooseMyPlate.gov: How Much Food From the Proteins Food Group Is Needed Daily?
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Protein in Diet
- Colorado State University: Sodium and the Diet
- MedlinePlus: Iron in Diet
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats