Skinless chicken is an excellent source of protein; it has less fat content, yet is very high in protein – and hence also known as ‘lean meat’. As compared to other vegetarian sources, chicken has more protein. While 100 gms of dal has 25 gms of protein & 60 gms of carbs totaling a massive 340 calories, 100 gms of the chicken breast has 25 gms of protein & 3 gms of fat totaling only 130 calories. Besides, 100 gms of dal is too much a quantity for someone to eat, while 100 gms of chicken will be only 3-4 medium-sized chunks!
But how much chicken is too much chicken? Especially when we are petrified of the hormones & antibiotics that are allegedly fed to the stock in poultry farms! Let us examine the truth behind this
Hormones are basically of 2 types – Steroid-based and Protein-based. Steroid hormones are not metabolized and are usually given orally (eg – birth control pills), while protein-based hormones are injected (eg – insulin). If a protein-based hormone is taken orally, then it is broken down and metabolized/digested in the stomach, and it does not give the effects of the hormone; this is why insulin is not taken orally and instead injected into the body. Similarly, a growth hormone is also a protein-based hormone and it does not help in fast-tracking growth unless injected.
It is NOT possible to inject tens of thousands of poultry stock with growth hormone as it is very inconvenient and is also a costly affair. Long story short – poultry stock is NOT given any hormonal injection to increase their growth
How do they grow so fast then? This is achieved through genetic engineering by finding the right breed and selective breeding. Apart from this, vast improvements in nutrition knowledge along with the breeding environment have helped the animal husbandry to raise livestock faster
Antibiotics, however, are given to the poultry stock, by mixing it up with the feed in many poultry farms (Not all farms!). These antibiotics are mixed to the poultry feed, to make the stock resistant to microbial infections so that they do not die! The common antibiotics given are tetracycline, fluoroquinolones, colistin etc. They are all used for the treatment of malaria, plague, syphilis, etc. When we eat such meat in more quantities, we grow resistant to these antibiotics, slowly. This means, god-forbid, when in need of such a medication, they may not be as effective as it should be as we have grown resistant to it
Does it mean free-range chicken is the healthier option? In most parts – YES! They may be antibiotic-free, but, remember they are also more susceptible to catching diseases that can sometimes transmit to humans (eg bird flu etc)