Balanced Diet Made Tasty with the Yummy Taste of Chicken

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A nutritious meal is the key to good health. A balanced diet provides adequate energy and ensures optimal growth and development. Proteins play an important part in growth as they are essentially the building blocks of a human body. They are also responsible for the body’s wear and tear.

They function as an indispensable component for structuring bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. They are also building blocks for enzymes, hormones and vitamins. Proteins are one of the three nutrients that provide calories (the others are fat and carbohydrates).

Children and young adults needs high amount of protein in their daily diet as they are still growing and need new tissue to be created regularly. There are also higher requirements for pregnant and lactating women who have to support the growth of their baby. Athletes and sportspersons also require more protein as they engage in high intensity physical activity.

What makes protein so vital for the body is its nature which is made of large molecules comprising 21 different amino acids, which are typically in a sequence. Though amino acids are formed within the body, but nine of the amino acids have to be obtained through food. Hence, it is important that one’s diet should have adequate amount of good quality protein. Foods such as milk, cheese, meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts and seeds are considered part of the protein foods group.

  Dietary Sources of Protein
Food Serving Weight in gms Protein gms
Chicken 6 ounces 170 42.5
Fish 6 ounces 170 41.2
Cottage Cheese 1 cup 225 28.1
Yogurt 8 ounces 227 11.9
Tofu 1/2 cup 126 10.1
Lentils 1/2 cup 99 9
Milk 1 cup 244 8
Eggs 1 large 50 6.3

 Chicken is one of the best sources of protein as it contains 8 types of amino acids, is low fat, low sodium and unsaturated making it very light and versatile for the body. Chicken is also a good source of niacin (vitamin B3), which aids in metabolism; vitamin B6, important to immune system and blood sugar level maintenance; biotin (vitamin B7), useful in cell growth; and vitamin B12, is engaged in nerve cell and red blood cell maintenance. Chicken in addition, contains iron, which is the oxygen transport working towards cell growth, and zinc that regulates the immune system and balances the DNA synthesis.

The goodness of protein is unmatched. A serving of 100 grams of cooked skinless, boneless breast has only one gram of saturated fat and less than four grams of total fat which is much lesser than other meat products. Ideally 1 gram per kilogram of human body weight is an appropriate serving to stay fit and energetic.

Chicken can be consumed in a variety of ways. Cold cuts such as chicken salami and sausages make for a powerful breakfast, while a chicken salad makes for a healthy snack. Chicken curries of various kinds serve as a yummy lunch or dinner option. While a bowl of chicken soup can be enjoyed any time of the day!

One must keep in mind that the body requirements for proteins become less as the individual grows. Therefore, make sure you eat right, keep active and maintain equilibrium in your lifestyle.

An authored article by Dr. J. S. Pai, Executive Director, Protein Foods & Nutrition Development Association of India

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