Chicken meat is the flesh of chickens used for food. The meat of adult chickens is light pink, with firm and moist flesh. It is composed of roughly 75% water, 20% protein, and 5% fat (table). Chicken breast meat is a popular item in many menu items in the West.
Chicken meat is produced from whole chicken carcasses, which have been eviscerated and subjected to inspection by a United States Department of Agriculture inspector. Typically, the chicken carcass is broken down into large pieces, all or part of the bones are removed, and the remaining meat and skin chopped up. Portions cut away from the carcass at this time are often used when producing canned chicken broth or frozen chicken. It can also be used for grinding into food items such as "turkey roll" and pet food.
Chicken meat is a popular form of poultry in many countries, however, the bone density in standard whole birds is very high due to the skin and tendons, which are most of the weight. Some modifications have been developed to allow chicken with less bone, however the texture is compromised with these preparations.
Owing to its low cost, chicken is commonly used in fast-food restaurants. Chicken meat can be cooked or eaten alone, but it can also be used as a convenience food component in processed foods. It is commonly used as an ingredient in such prepared foods as chicken cacciatore, chicken soup, chicken salad, and poached chicken that may be served hot or cold. Chicken meat (usually dark meat) can also be shredded to make buffalo wings. Deep-fried chicken skin is eaten as a snack and poultry sausage is available in many prepared varieties.
Chicken meat is widely considered to be very healthy, and it is a major form of protein in most parts of the world. Proteins are essential for maintaining muscle and tissue health as well as generating the enzymes necessary for the immune system to fight infection. However, according to nutritionists at Kansas State University, there has been much debate about whether chicken meat truly is healthier than beef, pork, or other meats. For example, it has been argued that the fat content in chicken might be higher than all other forms of protein. Nevertheless, experts at Kansas State University report that most nutritionists consider lean cuts of chicken to be as healthy as fish and possibly even leaner than beef. The American Dietetic Association suggests that for adults trying to keep their cholesterol levels in check, lean chicken may be a smarter choice than lean beef or pork.