What is the best chicken or turkey for you?
It seems like a simple thing, choosing poultry. For years folks have thought that eating healthy means more chicken and fish. I hear that all the time from patients. So what to choose and how?
Well, chicken. I do look for the freshest possible chicken that I can find. Check the sell by dates first and foremost. You do have to be somewhat suspect even of the sell by dates because there are so many stories about how grocery stores will repackage and redate their meats when they are near the sell by date.
Keep in mind that just because a chicken is labeled "free range" that this doesn't guarantee anything. Many free range chickens aren't really ranging freely around the barnyard. They simply have a bit more room in some cases. Likewise, there's no assurance that they have not been raised using antibiotics or chemicals. There are some name brand products now that are quite reliable, however.
I occasionally do purchase whole chickens and roast them. We know that the skin is where all the fat is, but like most things, eating the skin from a good roast chicken every now and then is what you should do. Keep in mind that there's great evidence that you can cook your chicken with the skin on and just not eat the skin. There won't be any more fat or calories than if you cooked the chicken without skin, and you'll still get all the juiciness and flavor you get from cooking it skin on.
I do like buying boneless and skinless chicken. Many of my recipes call for boneless chicken breasts and this is a great lean, low-fat choice. A lot of markets now are selling boneless and skinless chicken thighs and I love using these. They offer an especially rich chicken flavor to a lot of recipes. I don't believe that processed poultry, like chicken nuggets and such, are part of a healthy diet and you should avoid these.
Most of the time you only think of turkey around holidays, but there's a lot of great turkey recipes for day to day. It's really easy now to just buy a turkey breast. That's a great and easy way to enjoy roast turkey any time (and there's some leftovers for turkey sandwiches).
Ground turkey is widely available, and it is a little bit lower in fat and calories than ground beef, but not all that much. Interestingly, 95% lean ground beef is lower in fat, calories and saturated fat than ground turkey, so the ground turkey is not always the best choice. Here's more on ground turkey vs. ground beef.