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Healthy Chicken Doesn't Have to Start with Skinned Chicken Breast

Consumers have become accustomed to "fat-free" as a labeling claim on a wide variety of foods, including sliced deli meats that feature the leanest portions of chicken and turkey. This trend has been important in providing consumers with lower fat choices and choices that are not compromised by problematic levels of saturated fats or trans fats. But at the same time, these choices are not always outstanding in taste or in texture.

At the World's Healthiest Foods, we are always looking for ways to strike an optimal balance between the delicious tastes and textures of whole, natural food and the natural richness of nutrients found in these foods. In this context, we were fascinated by recent research conducted by food scientists at Korea University in Seoul, Korea. These researchers wondered how chicken roasted in its own fat would compare in total fat per serving to other forms of chicken (including fried chicken), and how trans fat levels would compare in the differently prepared forms of this food. (Trans fat is a type of fat that can increase risk of disease when consumed in excessive amounts. While it can occur naturally in many foods, including chicken and other meats, trans fat has become a problem in many diets primarily due to use of hydrogenated vegetable oils.)

In the Korea University study, chicken roasted in its own fat was determined to have lower amounts of trans fat than all forms of fried chicken and to have lower amounts of total fat as well. The acceptability of the chicken—including its flavor and aroma—was also greater than the acceptability of any form of fried chicken with test groups evaluating the different forms of chicken giving the highest flavor and taste scores for chicken roasted in its own fat.

Applications for the Healthiest Way of Eating:

This research seems to fit nicely with an approach we take at the World's Healthiest Foods of baking chicken with the skin on and only removing the skin after baking. (From our point of view, cooking with the skin intact is similar to cooking the chicken in its own fat, since the composition of the chicken skin is typically 75-80% fat.) We know that fat-free trends in the marketplace have made many consumers opt for pre-skinned chicken breasts. Yet, reflecting upon our experience and this research, we are becoming more and more confident that you can improve the flavor, aroma, and moisture in your chicken without compromising your nutritional goals involving fat by purchasing whole, natural chicken breasts with the skin still intact and only removing the skins after your chicken has been cooked.

Reference

Kim JH, Park HG, Jung H et al. The Development of a Novel Cooking Method (Alternate Roasting with Its Own Fat) for Chicken to Improve Nutritional Value

Journal of Food Science 2008, 73(4): S180.