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Is Chicken Good for Diabetes? It’s Chicken Time!
Diabetes

Is Chicken Good for Diabetes? It’s Chicken Time!

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 August 28
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6 min

Chicken has been used over the years to control weight and has a track record of lowering heart disease risks. But can people with diabetes eat chicken? If yes, how much can they eat? These are some questions this article seeks to answer.

Is chicken good for diabetes
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Chicken is one of the most popular meats worldwide because of its delicious flavor and simple cooking methods. In general, it has a track record of successfully reducing the risk of heart disease and has been used for decades to manage weight.

If you enjoy eating chicken, we appreciate your desire to learn whether or not persons with diabetes can eat chicken. If so, can it raise glucose levels? How can they consume it? Is there a particular way to prepare are some of the questions this article will explore.

Is Chicken Good for Diabetes?

Chicken may be a tasty and nutritious option for diabetes. All chicken parts are rich in protein, have low-fat content, and many are lean. Chicken may be a great addition to a diabetes diet plan if consumed in moderation and prepared healthily.

Chicken contains high levels of protein and provides a decent amount of zinc, selenium, and potassium, which are essential for diabetes. One cup of chopped roasted, skinless chicken provides 2.13 mg of zinc. 

Zinc is key in promoting healthy insulin function and providing antioxidant benefits for people with Type 2 Diabetes. Additionally, zinc can help maintain healthy glucose levels by regulating the body’s production of insulin.

Chicken is also a low-fat food than red meat. The high-fat content in red meat causes elevated cholesterol levels, leading to artery blockages and coronary heart disease. 

People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease and should replace red meat in their diet with lean meat like chicken meat. This has beneficial effects on the heart and the kidneys, which are a greater risk in persons with diabetes.

Can people with diabetes eat fried chicken?

Fried chicken contains carbs, saturated fat, and calories, which are harmful to people with diabetes. Frying often includes breadcrumbs, which can add a lot of calories, unhealthy fats, and carbs. A diet rich in fat can result in a rise in weight, which can make type 2 diabetes worse.

Gaining weight also raises your risk of developing heart disease, which is already increased when you have diabetes.

You can roast or bake your chicken without the breadcrumbs instead of the beloved fried and breaded foods like chicken nuggets. A covering of fresh herbs or spices might work. If breading is a must, use whole-grain crumbs to cover the chicken and bake it rather than fry it.

Does Chicken Raise Blood Sugar?

Chicken is a high-protein food, does not include any carbs, and has a zero glycemic index rating, which means it cannot spike blood sugar levels. And since proteins do not provide glucose when absorbed, they have little effect on your blood glucose levels.

Protein also has the additional benefit of promoting satiety, so relying on protein to fill you up rather than carbs like bread, pasta, or rice, maybe a wise choice for managing your blood sugar levels.

Foods with lean meats, such as chicken that has been broiled, baked, roasted, steamed, or grilled, can have reduced fat and saturated fat content, making them a healthier option to include in any meal.

Nutritional Value of Chicken

Chicken has no carbohydrates because it doesn’t include sugar or starch (unless it’s breaded or spiced). The USDA provides the following nutritional data for 100g of grilled boneless, skinless chicken:

Calories/Nutrient (per 100g)Amount 
Calories (kcal)120
Fat (g)2.6
Sodium (mg)45
Carbohydrates (g)0
Fiber (g)0
Sugars (g)0
Protein (g)23

Glycemic Index of Chicken

Chicken is lean meat, and, like most other meat, it’s high in protein and fat but low in carbs. As a result, chicken has a glycemic index of 0, preventing blood sugar spikes. This makes it a low-carb diet suitable for people with diabetes.

The glycemic index (GI) of a food is the ranking of carbohydrate foods in terms of their effect on blood glucose levels. The glycemic index is a standardized value that indicates how much a particular food raises blood glucose levels compared to a standard reference food, white bread. 

The higher the GI value, the more rapidly it increases blood glucose levels.

How to Eat Chicken for Diabetes?

Baked, grilled, barbecued, and oven-fried chicken is suitable for persons with diabetes. This is because no oil is used in these cooking methods, and they do not add a lot of unhealthy fats and calories to the diet.

Always remember that how you prepare your chicken is crucial. Avoid deep frying or cooking chicken on high heat, and stay away from processed chicken. Overindulging in fast food can result in increased blood pressure, and a person with diabetes is already more likely to develop high blood pressure, which is bad for diabetes.

How Much Chicken can a Person With Diabetes Eat?

A chicken meal for a person with diabetes should be no more than 3 ounces (85g), or about the size of a deck of cards, 2-3 times a week. Choose healthy cooking practices like baking, grilling, sautéing, or steaming when possible.

Also, remember that chicken should be eaten with other meals, including vegetables like carrots and fruits like watermelon or oranges, to ensure you get all the nutrients your body needs.

3 Benefits of Chicken for Diabetes

In addition to having a great flavor, chicken has a lot of health benefits. Here are some of the health benefits of eating chicken.

#1 Source of protein

Chicken is an excellent source of protein for persons with diabetes. Eating chicken is the simplest way to get your body’s protein without overeating fat.

Your body uses protein to repair, build, and maintain the body’s tissues and organs. Besides helping in several other physiological processes, proteins are also essential for the immune system to function.

Consuming enough protein is a crucial component of any diabetes eating plan. It can help regulate blood sugar levels, increase feelings of satiety, and support weight loss in those with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

Chicken also contains amino acids Lysine and Arginine. Eating proteins packed with these two amino acids are important for your gut health.

#2 Reduces cholesterol

Chicken is lean meat, naturally containing less cholesterol and fat than most cuts. Its ability to raise cholesterol depends on the portion of the chicken cooked and the preparation method. A chicken breast has less cholesterol than thighs, legs, and wings.

Frying chicken increases fat in the food and raises the risk of a cholesterol surge. Consuming skinless chicken significantly lowers the amount of cholesterol-raising fat because chicken skin contains a lot of fat.

#3 Weight loss

Chicken helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer, reducing the urge to snack in between meals. As a rich protein source, chicken can be essential for maintaining muscle mass. So, chicken is a great option if you’re looking to fuel your workout routine. It’s also low in calories, meaning you won’t gain weight with chicken.

A Word From MD

If you experience any symptoms of diabetes, you must monitor your blood sugar levels and occasionally work for weight loss. You should, therefore, change your diet to prevent a spike in your blood sugar levels.

Eating the right foods is crucial, but so is portion control. Consuming foods high in sugar and fat, such as carbs and red meat, can significantly raise blood sugar levels and cause weight gain. Opt for healthier sources of carbs such as whole grains like brown rice, vegetables, and fruits. Plant-based diet has also proven to be good in managing diabetes, as are vitamins and supplements. Losing a few extra pounds can significantly improve diabetes management.

You don’t have to be a brilliant cook to broil or bake chicken. Try experimenting with different spices and seasonings to add flavor to your dish without adding extra calories.

Conclusion

If you’re into eating poultry, chicken is one of the healthiest options available. It has high protein, low fats and carbs, and zero GI, which are essential components to consider for diabetes. Additionally, it is very filling. You can feel fuller for longer by including it in your diabetes healthy diet plan and snacks. This can support maintaining a healthy body weight, which is crucial for diabetes.
Just remember that cooking matters a lot. Fried chicken, especially breaded, contains a lot of carbs, fats, and added calories, which can cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. Opt for chicken recipes with no additional oil, such as baked and grilled chicken breast, to enjoy the benefits. If you must use oil, use good quality fats such as olive oil, nuts, and avocado.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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