food and nutrition, pregnancy, food, listeria, meat during pregnancy, food during pregnancy, spina bifida, heat

Q: I have heard that chicken is good for so many health conditions, but is it beneficial to eat while pregnant?

A: Chicken is a highly nutritious food loaded with vitamins and minerals. It is a mine of the leanest proteins and 9 essential amino acids (the building blocks of muscles) and contains unsaturated and saturated fatty acids. Since it's naturally low fat, it does not cause obesity. Dieticians and doctors regularly recommend eating chicken during pregnancy.

Lean chicken breast has the lowest levels of fat and saturated fatty acids amongst all stir fried meats. It gives you omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. It is also low in cholesterol content, but rich in fatty acids, Vitamin E and A, Selenium, thiamine, and niacin equivalents that promote metabolism and augment energy levels. One cup of cooked chicken breast gives you 87% of your daily protein requirements. Chicken should be consumed without its skin to reduce fat content.

All these nutrients can help the development of bones, organs, and cells of the baby and help protect him/her from chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart ailments, and high cholesterol. During pregnancy, your body needs more iron and zinc than usual. Lean chicken can satisfy these needs, and iron in chicken is also more easily absorbed by the body.

Of course, you must be certain that the chicken is fresh and cooked well before eating to avoid diseases caused by the listeria bacteria. Heating it above 160 degrees Fahrenheit usually ensures that bacteria have been killed. Do not eat cold pre-cooked chicken as it may contain bacteria. A serving size of 100 grams or 2 slices of cooked chicken meat is recommended a day for pregnant women.

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