Is it healthy to eat chicken skin?

It has become popular to believe that eating chicken skin is unhealthy, as well as the recommendation that it should be removed from the meat before preparation.

Is it healthy to eat chicken skin?
How healthy is it to eat chicken skin? Image by Laury Raiken from Pixabay

For some years now, the idea that eating chicken skin is unhealthy has become popular, as has the recommendation that it should be removed from the meat before preparation or eliminated before eating if the product was purchased ready to eat and cooked with the skin on.

In contrast, there are those who believe that a chicken without skin has little flavor, since, they say, the flavor of this food is provided by the skin during its preparation, in addition to the fact that its consumption, they affirm, in spite of the minimal effect it could have on health, is worthwhile.

The controversy among doctors, nutritionists and food processors also becomes dense. In this controversy there are those who affirm that the skin can be a source of contamination and that the high quantity and type of fats have a high caloric contribution. On the other hand, there are those who believe that the skin is an important source of flavor contribution, since it helps to keep the food juicier and, therefore, promotes less water loss, in addition to preventing the fat from the oil used from accumulating in the meat when the chicken is fried.

Nutritional aspects

It has been reported that chicken skin alone provides 32.4 g of fat and 13.3 g of protein per 100 g. When the skin is already integrated in the chicken piece, the value of these nutrients can be higher or lower, according to the meat/skin proportion, i.e., a thigh will have a higher proportion of skin/meat than a breast; hence, depending on the chicken piece, the proportions of the nutrients can be modified.

Although the recommendation that the preparation of chicken without skin is healthier is much more popular, in the case of chicken that is fried, the skin helps the oil not to penetrate so much into the meat and this can be removed at the time of consumption if for dietary reasons it is not desired to do so. When roasting or roasting, leaving the skin on protects the meat from moisture loss during cooking and helps the proportions of its components to be more stable per 100 g of food consumed, in addition to providing flavor.

In the case of breaded products, normally the pieces with skin are not used at home, more for a culinary problem at the time of processing than for health reasons. Breaded products with skin that are commercially sold, due to the difficulty of the process, may have a higher caloric content due to the addition of other ingredients used to achieve a good breading.

In the case of wings, whose consumption is very popular, this piece has a low proportion of meat and a high proportion of skin, and it is precisely the latter that imparts an intense flavor to the food.

Nothing goes to waste

Among the meats, poultry is the one that can be consumed with skin, and this is very easy to remove in most cases, either before or after preparation. When the skin is consumed, the sensation on the palate, due to the type of tissue it is made of, is not very pleasant, and it is this sensation -and not precisely the taste- that is the point of rejection. Likewise, the stigmatization of its consumption is more due to the disinformation regarding nutritional aspects that have been massified mainly through social networks, than because of its taste.

The chicken industry has found a use for the skin when only lean pieces such as breasts, thighs and legs are marketed. Chicken skin is incorporated to make chicken pastes that are used in the processing of sausages. In Mexico, although it is little known by consumers, NMX-FF-080-SCFI-2006 POULTRY PRODUCTS - FEEDING CHICKEN MEAT IN CARCASS AND PIECES - CLASSIFICATION regulates the quality characteristics of both meat and skin for the commercialization of this food.

Finally, if you decide to consume or not chicken with skin, according to your preference, the reality is that the abuse or excesses of this and other foods can lead to an unhealthy condition.

Source: Libertad Zamorano García, researcher of the Coordination of Food Technology of Animal Origin of CIAD.