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Healthy Living

Some New Ways to Eat Healthfully

By Sheryl Kraft

Created: 04/06/2010
Last Updated: 12/06/2018

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Every time I roast a whole turkey or chicken, my husband can't wait to get his hands on it. It's not so much a matter of practicing his carving skills with a knife. Instead it's that moment when the bird is finally cool enough to handle. Then, and only then, does he reach out to do it, no knife involved. His "moment" has arrived.

He gently grabs a piece with one hand, carefully peeling back the skin. (The look of anticipation on his face, by the way, reminds me of how I must look when I am in an ice cream shop, watching the kid behind the counter dig his scoop into some double- mocha chip.) And then, into his mouth the skin goes, with me looking on and thinking:  No! It's chicken skin! It's bad! But I've learned to keep my mouth shut, since he's gonna do it anyway. And really, I only roast a turkey once a year (on Thanksgiving) and the times I cook chicken I remove – and discard -  the skin myself.

I haven't told him yet, but the April issue of Cooking Light magazine will make my DH very happy. It features an article called "10 Nutrition Myths that shouldn't keep you from the foods you love."

Among the 10 is this myth: "You should always remove chicken skin before eating." The article says that it's okay to enjoy a chicken breast – skin-on – without blowing your saturated fat budget. In fact, they say, if you eat a chicken breast with its skin as opposed one that's been stripped of it (okay, call me a killjoy), you're only paying with an additional 2.5 grams of saturated fat and 50 calories. And, the article says, a little more than half of the fat in the chicken skin is monosaturated fat (the heart-healthy kind).

You probably also like that news (unless you're a vegetarian or vegan, of course). I'm no nutritionist (and I'm sure there will be many who will not adhere to calling these "myths"), but it makes sense to me, as long as you don't make a constant diet of chicken skin. Comes back to what I always think is best in life – and that is non-deprivation with a generous dose of moderation sprinkled in.

In case you haven't read it, here are some other myths the article, written by registered dietician Julie Upton, are busting:

  • Added sugar is always bad for you ("Sugar balances the flavors in healthy foods that might not taste so great on their own.")
  • Eating eggs raises your cholesterol levels ("Dietary cholesterol found in eggs has little to do with the amount of cholesterol in your body.")
  • All saturated fats raise blood cholesterol ("New research shows that some saturated fats don't.")
  • The only heart-friendly alcohol is red wine ("Beer, wine, and liquors all confer the same health benefits.")
  • Adding salt to the pot adds sodium to the food ("Salt added to boiling water may actually make vegetables more nutritious.")
  • Fried foods are always too fatty ("Oil absorption into the food is minimized…when the frying is done right.")
  • The more fiber you eat, the better ("Not all fibers are equally beneficial. Consider the source.")
  • Organic foods are more nutritious than conventional ("There are many reasons to choose organic, but nutrition isn't one of them.")
  • Cooking olive oil destroys its health benefits ("Even delicate extra-virgin oils can take the heat without sacrificing nutrition.")

So, do you think any of you these will change your habits? I used to eat chicken skin occasionally as a kid, and must have stopped when I became conscious of the health "rules." I can't say I'll revert back to that old habit, but maybe, just maybe, next Thanksgiving I'll look at my husband just a bit differently when his hand dips into that forbidden fruit, er, turkey skin.

Comments

I have to admit I love super crispy chicken skin! I don't make whole chickens often, but when I do, the family usually shares the skin as a special treat. Glad to know it's not as evil as I thought!

I LOVE chicken skin and always feel more energy when I eat it so I'm glad to know that it's not so bad for you. Eggs are also a food that we eat regularly and that make my body feel good.

I'm not sure, though, that all these myth-busters are right. Sugar added to "healthy" food to make it taste good? Plu-ese. Sugar is just plan bad for you, for so many reasons. People in this country add it to grapefruit (how is that good for you) and cereal (ditto) and everything else. If the "healthy" food doesn't taste good in the first place, it won't taste good with sugar. But there is a solution: learn how to cook.

Okay, rant over!

Yes, Jennifer, that sugar bit got to me, too. What they're saying, I think, is that it's better to add sugar to foods so they are tastier than not eating those (healthy) foods at all.
And keep in mind they're not advocating using a LOT of sugar, just a sprinkle.

I like that phrase- non-deprivation with a healthy dose of moderation sprinkled in. Easy to remember and so very true!

Oh, my husband will be SO happy! Of course, like you, a roasted bird is a rarity here so I doubt a little digression will cause a huge impact!

I was surprised by some of these "busted myths" but especially by the idea beer and liquor could be as good for you as a glass of red wine. How can that be? I thought the benefits had something to do with the grape skins? Beer is fattening, and liquor can't be good for your system .... can it? Do they provide antioxidants and resveretrol, too???

I know, Alexandra - that one surprised me, too. What they say is that research shows that alcohol - the ethanol - itself raises levels of HDL. Perhaps the Resveratrol found in red wine is something different and separate from this.

I love the chicken skin. It's my favorite part all crunchy and salty. Yum.

I'm all for eating real foods like local organic veggies, whole grains, pasture fed meats and dairy and wild fish. I figure that way I'll get all the good things I need and, as long as I don't overdue it on any one thing, I'll be fine.

I love this post, Sheryl. I've always eaten chicken skin with enjoyment -- but now I'll do it with relish.

Wow! A universal "chicken-skin-lover" group.

I'm with Almost Slowfood. I's rather eat REAL food. Like butter ... or sugar. I'd rather eat the real version of those than some scary lower-cal or lower-fat substitute.

I'm with Almost Slowfood. I's rather eat REAL food. Like butter ... or sugar. I'd rather eat the real version of those than some scary lower-cal or lower-fat substitute.

This is a great way to present information instead of the usual tips, which often sound preachy and negative. LOVE that putting salt into veggie water isn't bad for you!

Thanks for sharing, Sheryl . . . I can't wait to get my hands on the turkey AND the skin! Now, can you tell us anything positive about the stuffing?!?

Isn't it fair to say that most things, in moderation, are OK for you? OK . . . maybe not the stuffing!

The only healthy stuffing I know of is most likely no stuffing. Sorry to break it to you. Or, how about a teaspoon-ful?

This is great info. I didn't know that salt could make veggies more nutritious. That's interesting. And I love chicken skin, especially on baked chicken... that really crunchy part. I'm not so sure organic is not healthier than conventional. I've seen the the studies and I understand their results, but I'm not sure they are comparing the right things. Mass produced organic (ie "it's barely organic") is probably about as healthy as conventionally grown produce. But locally grown produce with heirloom seeds grown in an organic way is. The problem with conventionally grown food is that in order to bio engineer IN qualities like biggness, longer lastingness and pest resistance, they've bio-engineered out qualities like taste and nutrition. We all know that tomatoes, for instance, grown in our own backyards taste better than tomatoes from the store. They taste better because they have more lycopene--which is the healthy antioxidant that makes them red.

I think what the article was saying is that non-organic is just as HEALTHY as organic; the difference is that it will contain trace amounts of pesticides (but that makes it less healthy in a way...) The vitamin content, they're saying, is the same with both. I agree that the taste sometimes differs greatly, too, between certain organic veggies and fruits and others. I find a marked difference in organic broccoli, for instance.

I've heard before (my husband recites this) that if you fry right it's not that fatty--it's when the oil isn't hot enough and gets soaked into the food that the fat content jumps. So I guess he's right! The central message I kind of take away from this whole list is that a big part of eating healthy is about eating in moderation. Fatty foods won't kill you, unless of course you eat them all the time and in large quantities.

Your husband knows his stuff! True about the oil not being hot enough.

What a great list! I'm always happy when people are encouraged to eat proper food- even the chicken skin.

especially the kind on fried chicken. But I don't think you're talking about that....

Okay, show of hands: how many people have had fights in the Thanksgiving kitchen over turkey skin as the bird rests? Be honest!

Interesting. I'm reminded of all those times when one study says one thing is bad for you only to find out from another study that it's good for you - or the other way around. Perhaps moderation is, truly, key?

Here's to the not-so-guilty pleasures of added sugar & chicken skin! Tee hee...what I really want to know is whether I need to avoid "inflammatory foods" from my diet -- um, sugar is up there -- which a holistic practitioner recently suggested.

Any thoughts?

I've read that there are some foods that are PRO-inflammatory, like junk foods, high-fat meats, sugar and of course, fast foods, that will increase inflammation in your body. Unhealthy fats like saturated fats are culprits, as are nitrites.

Here's an interesting piece I found on WebMD:

You definitely busted some of the myths I bought into. I'm so used to doctors and media saying "don't" or "remove" or "never." Maybe I'll hang this list in my kitchen!

I'm going to hide this from my husband...
It is hard for me to keep him from eating fry,crispy or greasy stuff. If he see this article hi'll has an excuse to dig in to the "healthy chiken skin"

Great article, like always! Thanks.

Great post! It is really important if we are concerned on our . Eating is one of our favorite activity. Choosing the right kind of food to eat is important. Not all foods are good for our health. Eating more than needed is bad for our health. I really thought that chicken skin is bad for our health. Thanks for this article I can now fully enjoy my chicken without being guilty.

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