Chicken has long been lauded as a healthy protein and a better option than red meat
Much as we’d like to believe that chicken is a really healthy food, we can’t treat it as the healthiest option on the shelves.
The American Heart Association suggests limiting the total intake of lean meat, including skinless chicken and fish, to a combined amount of 6 ounces or less each day. It is important to get your chicken consumption right as it can cause certain health risks like food poisoning and diarrhoea, or even increased cancer risk from cooking chicken a certain way. Below are some of the side effects of eating too much of chicken;
1. Antibiotic Resistance
Antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria are a problem that the medical community is still grappling with, and mass-produced broiler chicken isn’t helping the cause. The widespread use of antibiotics given to chickens to help keep off infections is adding to this problem. There is also some concern around the possible impact on human gut flora of consumption of food with possible traces of antibiotics. However, further research in this area is warranted.
However, there is news on antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella not responding to conventional treatment of food poisoning caused by contaminated chicken.
2. Cancer Risk
Consuming a diet that’s very high on animal protein and low on fruit and vegetables could up your risk of cancer. Research indicates a reduced risk of cancer, as much as 40 percent lower, in vegetarians when compared to meat eaters. So no matter how lean the chicken is or how well you prepare it, if you skip your vegetables to make room for more chicken, you could be setting yourself up for a fall. Because poultry has to be cooked at high temperatures, it can form heterocyclic amines (HCA), carcinogenic compounds that increase your risk of cancer.
3. Food Poisoning
Food poisoning from salmonella, campylobacter spp., and other bacteria and germs in chicken remains a very real possibility. The United States has the highest per capita consumption of chicken in the world. And 1 in 6 Americans has at least one bout of food poisoning or contracts food-borne illnesses every year. Studies have been conducted in Europe, the UK, and on American shores to check samples of chicken sold by various brands at retail outlets. The results have been worrying, with some reports finding harmful bacteria in as much as 97 percent of all sampled chicken.
4. E. coli Contamination
The notorious Escherichia coli, more commonly referred to as E. coli, is a bacteria that’s infamous for causing bouts of diarrhoea due to consumption of contaminated or improperly prepared food. Apart from tummy bugs, it could also cause a urinary tract infection and pneumonia or respiratory illness. Birds often end up contaminated with faecal matter in the congested quarters in which broiler chicken are bred. While processing takes care of rinsing, there may still be traces on the birds.