Chicken legs and chicken thighs are often left behind by those following the weight loss surgery high protein diet who favor the leaner lighter breast meat. For years dark meat poultry has been rejected by dieters as too high in fat to play a beneficial role in a healthy weight management lifestyle. But this nutrient dense meat has a place in the bariatric diet and in these difficult economic times dark meat poultry is an affordable choice at the market.
A 3-ounce serving of dark meat chicken, skin removed, provides 166 calories, 21 grams protein, 8 grams of fat (2 grams saturated) and 76mg of cholesterol. But meat should not be judged on its nutritional profile alone: dark meat poultry is an excellent source of the B vitamins niacin and riboflavin and a good source of zinc. And bundle packages of chicken drumsticks and thighs are ridiculously affordable too, often priced less than $1 a pound. Many nutritionists say that the benefits of the nutrient dense dark meat make it the preferred choice to white meat poultry provided the skin is removed before eating and a low-fat cooking method is used to prepare the chicken.
Weight loss surgery patients are prone to B vitamin deficiencies. In addition to B vitamin supplementation patients should regularly include foods that are rich in B vitamins in their diet. Niacin, vitamin B3, is important in the body’s production of energy from food. Niacin helps keep the skin, nerves, and digestive system healthy and is required for normal growth and the synthesis of DNA. Riboflavin, vitamin B2, plays an essential role in the production of red blood cells, energy production, and growth. As we age it is believed we do not consume enough riboflavin and may become deficient in this important B vitamin.
At the market look for chicken thighs and drumsticks packaged separately. Thighs are available boneless and bone-in. My favorite piece is the whole chicken leg with the thigh and drumstick intact and the skin on. Ten-pound bags of chicken legs are available at most super-stores for around.75 cents a pound, a fine bargain when feeding a crowd. Chicken legs can be seasoned and roasted in the oven, skillet fried, or grilled outdoors. Poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. A meat thermometer is the best method for testing chicken for doneness. Without a thermometer to test for doneness pierce the skin and meat with a sharp knife or skewer allowing juices to run. If the juices run clear the meat is cooked.
Serve dark meat poultry with fresh vegetables and citrus fruit. When eaten with poultry, citrus fruits, cabbage, broccoli, red bell peppers, kale, strawberries, kiwifruit will enhance iron absorption from the poultry thus promoting overall health and wellness.