How much fat is really in your grilled chicken?

  • By
    Jenni Muir - Food writer

As common on our shopping lists as toilet roll and tea bags, chicken is a low-fat, lean, healthy choice - right? Not necessarily, says Jenni.

How much fat is really in your grilled chicken?

My husband can remember when chicken was an occasional treat. His family didn't even have it once a week when he was growing up. And as it was an occasional treat, they wouldn't give its fat content a second thought. (Mind you, they didn't give the fat content of their weekly Cornish pasties a second thought either!)
 

Grilled chickenBut these days, don't many of us buy chicken as our default healthy protein for midweek suppers? And maybe choose it over cheese, ham or beef in the sandwich chains because we assume it is low in fat? After all, for years we've been hearing nutrition advice to choose white poultry as the lean option, and we've come to love it. You might even say we've come to rely on it.


Yet research by the highly regarded Professor Michael Crawford and colleagues at London Metropolitan University has shown that chicken - whether battery farmed or organic - is no longer a lean choice. They compared 52 chickens from various supermarkets and found that there were three times the calories coming from fat as from protein.
 

Nutrition information''Consumers, and many nutritionists, still think chicken is a protein-rich product. But now it is a fat-rich product,'' says Crawford. Which makes me wonder how long before this will be reflected in the calorie and fat counts used by the food industry on packaging, and by nutritionists in recipe calculations.
 

Or is it time we stopped listening to nutritional advice altogether? There is an interesting new book by American scientific journalist Michael Pollan regarded Michael Pollan called 'In Defence of Food' in which he argues that 'Thirty years of official nutritional advice has only made us sicker and fatter while ruining countless numbers of meals.' His advice is: 'Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognise as food'.
 

My great-grandmother certainly recognised chickens. What she wouldn't understand is why they weren't reared in a coop in the back yard.