Chicken, Why Art Thou So Mediocre?

Chicken is the most popular meat in the United States; in 2010, 8.6 billion chickens were killed to provide Americans with 37.2 billion pounds of chicken, compared to 26.4 billion pounds of beef, 22.5 billlion pounds of pork, 5.8 billion pounds of turkey, and only 0.3 billion pounds of veal, lamb, and mutton.

The popularity of chicken has grown steadily over the last century. Here is a chart from the USDA Economic Research Service:

Increasing chicken consumption followed the development of cheaper chickens in the 1940s, which led to greater use of chicken into prepared and fast foods. It was further encouraged in the 1970s by the widely promulgated idea that red meat might be unhealthful and that chickens were comparatively healthful.

Yet in fact chicken may be the least healthful of the popular meats!

In our book (p 171) we give industrially raised chickens and their eggs a grade of C, eggs and meat from organically raised heritage chickens a B+/B. By comparison, beef gets an A. Why the difference?

Unhealthy Chickens

The methods that created cheaper chicken meat do not produce healthy chickens. Chickens were bred for rapid growth, but the modern Cornish Rock hens develop arthritis around age ten weeks, are often infertile, and prefer not to walk. (See “Local Farming and The Fight for Quality Food,” October 25, 2011.)

Factory farmed chickens are also fed arsenic, antibiotics, antihistamines, and, in China, antidepressants. [1] [2] (See Chapter 23 of the book.) It has recently been realized that these compounds may remain present at low levels in chicken meat. UPDATE: In the comments, Rachel Virden points out flaws in the studies cited above; chicken meat may be more healthful than these studies would suggest.

Omega-6 Fats and Obesity

Chicken have a moderately high omega-6 content; a whole chicken provides about 13% of all calories (about 20% of fat calories) as omega-6 fats. Because omega-6 toxicity begins at about 4% of energy (see chapter 11 of the book), replacing low-omega-6 foods like beef and seafood with chicken can help generate toxic levels of omega-6 in the body.

This has a variety of unfortunate consequences, including obesity. In my recent Q&A with Latest in Paleo readers, I gave six reasons why omega-6 fats promote weight gain. The last reason was that “omega-6 fats are precursors to endocannibinoids which increase appetite (see this article).”

The article in question shows an interesting figure which notes that chicken consumption is, after vegetable oils and with pork, the major contributor of omega-6 fats to the American diet, and is correlated with obesity prevalence (Figure 5):

Omega-6 Fats and Cancer

Omega-6 fats promote cancer growth and metastasis, and so we might expect that chicken consumption will also promote cancer.

It may. A study of men in remission from prostate cancer found that, “Intakes of processed and unprocessed red meat, fish, … and skinless poultry were not associated with prostate cancer recurrence or progression.” [3] However, the fatty parts of chickens – the skin and the eggs – were:

Greater consumption of eggs and poultry with skin was associated with 2-fold increases in risk in a comparison of extreme quantiles: eggs [hazard ratio (HR): 2.02; 95% CI: 1.10, 3.72; P for trend = 0.05] and poultry with skin (HR: 2.26; 95% CI: 1.36, 3.76; P for trend = 0.003)…. Men with high prognostic risk and a high poultry intake had a 4-fold increased risk of recurrence or progression compared with men with low/intermediate prognostic risk and a low poultry intake (P for interaction = 0.003).

Our results suggest that the postdiagnostic consumption of processed or unprocessed red meat, fish, or skinless poultry is not associated with prostate cancer recurrence or progression, whereas consumption of eggs and poultry with skin may increase the risk. [3]

We recommend three egg yolks per day for their nutrition, but the poor quality of industrial chickens is a real concern. If you can find a place in your budget for only one naturally raised food, make it your eggs.

Badly Cooked Chicken

Much chicken is bought in industrially produced forms or as fried chicken cooked in vegetable oils at high temperatures. High temperatures and peroxidizable vegetable oils are not a good way to treat any meat; as we note in the book (Chap 23), harsh cooking methods increase the toxicity of foods.

It seems to work that way with chicken. Another cancer study found that fried chicken consumption was associated with higher prostate cancer risk. They write:

Potential mechanisms include the formation of potentially carcinogenic agents such as aldehydes, acrolein, heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and acrylamide. [4]

Conclusion

I think most of the health problems with chicken are probably attributable to its omega-6 content, and in the context of a low omega-6 diet there is probably little harm to consuming gently cooked chicken or eggs. So I think most of the known concerns with chicken consumption should not frighten Perfect Health Dieters. Ironically, what makes chicken healthful is consuming red meat or seafood most of the week!

However, because eggs are such a significant part of our micronutrient recommendations, I think it is desirable to find an egg producer who lets the hens roam and eat insects and other natural chicken foods. Healthy chickens produce more healthful eggs; healthful eggs produce healthy people.

References

[1] Nachman KE et al. Arsenic species in poultry feather meal. Science of the Total Environment 2012 Feb 15;417–418:183–8, http://pmid.us/2224435.

[2] Love DC et al. Feather meal: a previously unrecognized route for reentry into the food supply of multiple pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs). Environmental Science & Technology 2012 Apr 3;46(7):3795–802, http://pmid.us/2243597.

[3] Richman EL et al. Intakes of meat, fish, poultry, and eggs and risk of prostate cancer progression. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):712-21. http://pmid.us/20042525.

[4] Stott-Miller M et al. Consumption of deep-fried foods and risk of prostate cancer. Prostate. 2013 Jan 17. doi: 10.1002/pros.22643. [Epub ahead of print]  http://pmid.us/23335051.

 

Leave a comment ?

126 Comments.

  1. I don’t eat a lot of industrially raised chicken due to cruelty concerns. I do however have a good supply of pasture raised chicken plus the ability to afford it. Would you still recommend limiting intake to once or twice a week (assume beef, lamb, and seafood the rest of the week) or are the health concerns mostly mitigated for pasture raised chicken?

    • Hi David,

      I think given that we eat eggs daily or almost daily, one or two days a week for chicken meat should be sufficient. The health concerns are mitigated for pasture raised chicken, but they still have a bit more omega-6 than we would like in an every day food.

  2. Great article. I’ve long been flummoxed by the “healthy” reputation of chicken, and like you believe that poultry’s major downfall is the linoleic content. Unfortunately, just buying pastured chicken is not enough to make chicken healthy, as raising Cornish crosses on grass does little to affect their diet (they still eat a ton of grain, they just do it while sitting on grass). I rarely buy chicken, but if I do I make an effort to buy heritage breeds that do well on pasture. I raised a batch of K-22 broilers and while they did eat grass and catch bugs (as well as run around and act like chickens unlike comatose Cornish crosses) they still eat a lot of grain.

  3. Sufficient omega-3 fatty acid intake prevents the oversynthesis of endocannabinoids, it’s not an omega-6 bad, omega-3 good thing, it’s yet another case of a deficiency causing dysregulation http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22334255

    Although I’m still of the opinion that omega-6 shouldn’t be more than 4% of calories, or something like that, so not eating tons of fatty chicken is still important for that.

    My main nutritional reason why I don’t prefer chicken is that it’s simply not as nutritious as red meat, it doesn’t have as much carnitine, carnosine or various other semi-essential nutrients, so it looks like we agree for many reasons that chicken shouldn’t be a major source of protein.

  4. typo? “…replacing low-omega-6 foods like beef and seafood with chicken can help generate toxic levels of omega-6 in the body.”

    • I think it’s just worded funny. Basically, it says that by adding more chicken to the diet which is high in omega-6 we take away from beef and sea-food which are much lower in omega-6. That, in turn, contributes to toxic levels of omega-6s in the body.

  5. never mind, I read that wrong

  6. I eat a fair amount of chicken, but only breast meat — basically no fat. Then I couple the breast meat with coconut oil, butter, egg yolks, etc.: the ‘A’ or ‘B’ fats you mention.

    It seems to me that this mitigates at least the omega-6 concerns. Am I crazy?

    My chicken meat is not from pastured chicken though, so that’s still in play.

  7. What qualifies as “gentle cooking”?

    Is frying chicken in a pan considered “gentle” cooking?

  8. “Badly Cooked Chicken” No kidding, I used to love cast-iron-charred chicken cooked to a crisp super high-temp in olive oil. Looking back, that wasn’t too smart. At least I wasn’t a bodybuilder getting 80g chicken protein per day.

    I find low-PUFA warm water fish makes an okay substitute for chicken; similar nutrition but low o-6 (also low o-3 is desirable, since already reaching that quota via salmon/sardines) and more selenium. PUFA content seems to depend on the brand/source.

    We don’t even have pastured eggs up here (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/food-trends/why-you-cant-find-heritage-poultry/article1357436/). I already pay the premium for free-range or organic eggs (no antibiotics at least), and I would pay more for pastured, but it’s not even a product – not even in summer.

    • Actually, you can buy “pastured” small flock eggs from a farm directly. They just aren’t allowed to sell commercially at stores/farmers markets in Ontario.

  9. What would you recommend to someone who, due to food intolerances, is limited to consuming mostly poultry for her protein? Some beef and bison is ok but she tolerates no seafood or lamb, very little egg, and mostly eats chicken or turkey. Would this be a situation where omega-3 supplementation makes sense?

    • Hi Grace,

      If she really can’t eat seafood then omega-3 supplementation would make sense. Are you sure seafood is out of the question?

      • @Grace,

        such a large scale intolerance/allergy could be a sign of leaky gut. just a thought.

        i prefer red meat anyway. chicken breastis pretty bland & dry to me (unless one uses tons of butter or bacon or cheese) + it is more $$$ for the nutritional values.

        + chickens condition in general is poorest among all animals we raised for food.

        regards,

        • Yes, we are aware this is a very advanced case of leaky gut (and Lyme and “fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue,” Hashimoto’s and many other issues), hence the importance of PHD measures to aid in healing. Unfortunately, seafood is indeed out of the question. In the case of supplementing omega 3s, the next question would be dosage. Assuming she’s using a very fresh and high quality fish oil, would the goal of supplementing be to “balance out” the PUFA consumption in the chicken/turkey (if this is even possible)? Or just enough to get the minimum necessary Omega-3s/EPA/DHA, since she gets so little in her diet?

          I’ve encountered the idea of “balancing out” n-6 PUFA consumption with copious fish oil supplementation, but if I understood what was presented in PHD it seemed that excess fish oil beyond our modest EFA needs would just add to PUFA oxidation issues. So, not sure if taking extra would be doing anything to “balance” chicken PUFAs?

          • Hi Grace,

            I’d be inclined to give a fairly minimal dose. DHA in particular is easily oxidized and she will have a lot of oxidative stress. In fact she might do better eating flaxseed or flaxseed oil and let the omega-3s be lengthened in situ in her cell membranes, that will minimize peroxidation risk. Some people in her situation have strong negative reactions to fish oil.

  10. Modern chickens prefer not to walk? Sounds like a case of “you are what you eat”.

  11. Hi Paul,

    I hear a lot of talk about Omega-6 and how bad they are for our diets, but I’m not sure if we are looking at it the right way. Aren’t most of the studies on Omega-6 done with vegetable oils? Oils that took a once whole food and extracted just a part of it, removing most of the vitamins and other beneficial nutrients? Couldn’t the effect of vegetable oil on obesity be caused, in part, by the goitrogenic effect of soybean oil? Couldn’t the inflammatory effect be caused by it’s complete lack of anti-oxidants? Or that many of the oils studied have already begun to oxidize?

    At least with high Omega-6 tree nuts, they appear to be anti-inflammatory as a whole (if the inflammatory index is any good). Probably because of their Vitamin E content reducing oxidation and thus reducing inflammation. Vegetable oil on the other hand seems to be pro-inflammatory.

    The Dobe !Kung, a present day hunter-gatherer society in Africa, eat over 50% of their calories from Mongongo nuts, according to Richard B Lee’s book “The Dobe !Kung”. Marjorie Shostak also mentions that “The staple of the !Kung nutrition is the abundant mongongo nut, which constitutes more than half of the vegetable diet.” in her book Nisa. These nuts have 2x the amount of PUFAs (mostly linoleic acid) as almonds but 20x the amount of Vitamin E. That’s nearly 25% of their calories coming from Omega 6! It is noted that they may not be the best representation of our paleolithic ancestors since they have been pushed into a less hospitable area, but they are (were, as of the 70s) mostly free of western diseases. To be fair, this doesn’t mean their general health was good. More quotes from Nisa: “50% of the children die before the age of 15, and 20% die in their first year, mostly from gastrointestinal infections.” […] “Life expectancy at birth is only thirty years, while average life expectancy at age fifteen is fifty-five” […] “10 percent of the population is over 60 years old” and “Respiratory infections and malaria are major killers of adults”. I imagine this is similar to other hunter-gatherer societies, but it would seem that the symptoms of a diet high in Omega 6 fats aren’t present in this heavy omega-6 consuming population. It also appears as though their diet was very low in seafood, and the ate a decent amount of “snare birds” which also had a considerable amount of Omega 6 fats.

    Is it possible that Vegetable oil is the culprit, and not whole foods containing Omega 6? Perhaps it’s just the life style of exercise, sunlight, and an anti-inflammatory diet that is protective of the effects of Omega 6. Maybe they just don’t live long enough to be susceptible to these diseases? Either way, I don’t think there are many studies which show high nut consumption causing Omega 6 overload symptoms, or high Omega 6 meats being bad for us, instead I believe it’s almost entirely vegetable oil studies.

    What are your thoughts?

    • Hi Jake,

      It’s certain that omega-6 fats interact with other aspects of the diet, eg high-carb and high-fructose diets are worse for omega-6 than low-carb low-fructose diets. Also low vitamin E diets probably make the omega-6 more harmful.

      On the other hand, we have evidence like that in this post that omega-6 in chicken may be producing the same harmful effects as omega-6 in vegetable oils. So that argues the other way.

      • Eggs don’t provide much omega-6 in absolute terms. What they do provide at higher levels than anything else in the diet is arachidonic acid.

        Do you think it’s possible the arachidonic acid content of eggs could be responsible for harm rather than their overall omega-6 content which is insignificant in the context of average diets? I’m inclined to think so.

  12. I looked at this a while back, and mongongos are seasonal and I think roasted to make them last. It may be that consuming lots of omega 6 seasonally, then using up any stored lipids in between, is consistent with health in ways that constant exposure isn’t. There are also genetic variations in the way different populations process PUFAs, in some areas of Africa quite low ALA omega-3 intakes are adequate to maintain EPA and DHA levels that they would not support in many other populations.

    This is a very interesting post on San ethnography written by a zoologist who lived there:
    http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2011/1/5/guest-post-professor-gumby-essay-001.html

  13. Since I read in your book that chicken often contains Benadryl and Tylenol 😯 I significantly cut back on my chicken consumption.

    My dad refused to let my mom serve chicken. He used to have to kill them on the farm when he was a kid and that put him off.

    Its ironic because I grew up on beef and potatoes, and later became a vegetarian and abandoned my “unhealthy” childhood diet. Now it looks like beef and potatoes was the right way to eat afterall! I wrote about this & plugged your book 😀 in my post “Mom Was Right – Why “Meat & Potatoes” Diet May Be Best”
    http://bebrainfit.com/lifestyle/nutrition/mom-was-right-why-meat-potatoes-diet-may-be-the-best/

    • Hi Deane,

      Nice post, thank you for the plug!

    • Chickens are NEVER fed Benadryl or Tylenol. Take out health, legal, and moral concerns – do you think chicken companies can really afford to feed every chicken (26,000 or more per house) drugs or inject them with hormones? In a good year chicken producers are only making a max of 1.50 wholesale per lb of white meat. Given the current grain prices etc they are under 1.00 per lb. Drugs and Hormones would eat up any margin and then some. Plus just think of the logistics of getting these things into the birds.

      • Hi Rachel,

        the book quotes from the New York Times. The article is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/05/opinion/kristof-arsenic-in-our-chicken.html?_r=0

        the article says “The same study also found that one-third of feather-meal samples contained an antihistamine that is the active ingredient of Benadryl. The great majority of feather meal contained acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol.” The study he’s writing about is http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es203970e

        So while I agree that chicken companies can’t afford to feed their chickens Tylenol, the fact remains that it was detected in their feathers. The study is not free though, and the abstract doesn’t mention the levels found, so exactly how the acetaminophen got in the feathers, or if it is even problematic, is unknown.

        All in all this makes me weary of eating commercially raised chicken without knowing more about the producer and their methods.

        (not Paul but I really care about the scientific correctness in the comments)

        • My husband has a phd in Animal Nutrition and specifically works as a Poultry Nutritionist. There are only about 60 Poultry Nutritonists in the US. Consequently I can make these claims with 100% certainty (at least for US operations) as my husband works to feed chickens day in and day out. While the full article is not available (as you say) there are two comment/response to the article that in part raises many of my immediate questions about the study.

          http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es303433s

          Where was the feather meal from that was included in the study? You cannot test feather meal from China (which apparently was done) and use that as a basis for US produced feather meal. Current chicken producers are vertically integrated and strive to use everything they already have on hand. Why would they purchase feather meal from China when they already have the stuff on hand from their own chickens? In fact the US produces much more feather meal than is ever used in the US so we are a net exporter of approx 75% of the ingredient produced – not an importer.

          Additionally according to another comment on the article (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es303510z) it appears that only (3) 2.5gm samples from the US were used for research to make inferences about .5billion kgs of feather meal produced in the US. Also, two of these samples were procured from areas of the US where there is essentially no commercial poultry production (so why did the samples come from here)?

          This comment also suggests a very plausible source for the contamination of the feather meal – municipal water.

          Basically it sounds like the experimental design for the study was completely flawed as it did not account for outlying variables nor were the samples representative of the whole population or even enough samples taken to project the findings to the industry as a whole. This type of research would have never based the peer review process my husband was subject to when he was doing poultry nutrition research for his phd (over 20 published papers) and now as a peer reviewer he would not have passed this article.

          I agree people should know what is being fed to commercial agriculture but you need to find a credible source for this information (such as an actual poultry/animal nutritionist) and not rely on poorly designed and executed research as the basis for the information.

          • Hi Rachel,

            Thank you for pointing out the flaws in the study and correcting the record. I appreciate your taking the time to do so. I have added an UPDATE to the post with a link to your comments.

          • Also, if you are going to cite research as your basis for a claim you should make sure you have access to the full article and not just the abstract. Two different sayings come to mind:

            1. You can’t judge a book [study] by its cover [abstract].

            2. You can’t put anything on the internet that not’s true (current State Farm commercial).

            Based on what I can infer from the article abstract, position title of author(s), and the article comments the author did not have a complete understanding of commercial poultry operations, geographic location of poultry operations, vertical integration, rendering methodology of feed ingredients (feather meal)or inclusion of various feed ingredients into traditional poultry rations. All these issues would have had an effect on detecting extraneous variables to account for and control in the experimental design and also to help determine appropriate sample sizes and locations where samples should be secured.

            One of the responses from the author to one of the comments openly admits that their access to feather meal was much more limited than that of the industry. Consequently, they could not get typical industry samples so they used [potentially] sub par samples and ones from other countries (since that is all the could get) and then used the results to make broad claims against the industry as a whole. This alone should have put the brakes on the research or at least publishing it. If these were the findings and the author felt so compelled he should have used this as a reason/evidence to secure typical industry samples and repeat the testing – then publish the results if the trend/findings held. Of course if the same experimental design was used there is likely still a whole host of other issues to be concerned about with the results of the research. Don’t you think?

  14. How does this apply to bone broth? I use chicken bone broth far more than beef.

    Thanks

    • Hi Heidi,

      Beef bone broths definitely taste much better from grass-fed animals, and given what Eugenia tells us about the differences in chickens, I would suspect the same would be true of chicken bone broths.

      The conventional chickens will be less nourishing and tasty, but except for high omega-6 levels I do not think that they are likely to be outright toxic unless their feed is polluted,

      • From experience, I can tell you that making chicken broth with chickens will lead to a lot of fluoride in your broth. Conventional chickens are fed grains, I believe. I think some grains can be sprayed with fluoride-based pesticides. What is sprayed on the feed then accumulate in the fat of chicken and bones – the smaller the animal, the more fluoride can accumulate in their bones.

        I read, but would be interested to hear from Rachel about this. My understanding is that the chicken breasts are tested for fluoride, but not the skin, bones, or fatty parts.

        of course, for the average person, I’m sure once in a while wouldn’t hurt, but if you’re sick or have a condition, it might be best to avoid it as fluorides could cause skin conditions or perhaps issues in your gut.

        • I have forwarded your question on to my husband for comment but it may be a few days. Right now is the International Poultry Exposition which includes one of the biggest scientific meetings of the year for poultry and as expected he is in attendance.

        • I discussed this with my husband. He only works on the “live” side of poultry production so he is not positive if the testing happens on the processing side. He does know, however, that they do not account for Fluoride in the feeding matrix programs used to develop poultry rations. They track 40+ amino acids, vitamins, minerals, etc and have target minimum inclusion rates for each. There is also continual testing of feed ingredients (corn, soy bean meal, etc) for amino acid density and other factors. These factors along with feed ingredient pricing are combined in the matrix programs to generate the “mix” to meet the nutritional requirements of the bird at the best (lowest) price possible.

  15. Please allow me to share my Greek grand mother’s chicken with you. Look at the link below how red the meat is (looks like duck meat), how yellow the fat is (as it’s supposed to be). My mom had to use an ax to cut the chicken in portions, because its bones were not easily breakable with a normal meat knife (as with a duck).

    Except the fact that my grandma’s hens are pasture raised and organic, and free to run around all day, the TRICK to get the best quality meat out of a hen is to not eat them if they’re not at least 2 years old in age. We have a saying in Greece: “the older hen is the juicy one”, meaning that it’s the most nutritious one.

    I have been telling Paleo people to not make bone broth out of the US chickens, since most of these chickens are unhealthy and have never walked in their lives, but nobody listens. I tried to find older hens in my farmer’s market (Bay Area), with no luck. There’s one seller that has them occasionally, but she told me that the Chinese people are pre-ordering them a long time ago, so she has none to sell at the actual market.

    Here’s a pic of my grandma’s chicken on how real hen meat should look like, and there’s one more pic on my FlickR of that same meat, cooked (notice how it resembles game when cooked).

    When I see my grandma’s hens, and then I see the US chickens (even with the best quality, from the farmer’s market), they just don’t compare. Day and night.

    • Here’s the second pic. Notice how white the bone is because of the high amounts of calcium in it, and how red the meat is (consider that the meat is plainly boiled at that point).

      • Man – looks like I never ate real chicken!

      • Terrific pictures Eugenia. Wish we could find some healthy birds to eat!

      • Beautiful pics Eugenia! Thank you for sharing.

      • Reminds me of our chickens on the farm when I was a kid.

        We would keep our laying hens for two years and then eat them. We also had ducks, and I can remember one time having store bought chicken, and thinking how unlike our chicken it was – the duck was a better comparison.

        I think “normal” chicken meat – the ten week old stuff – is the poultry equivalent of veal. yes it is meat, and has a tender texture, but not as tasty (or nutritious) as the older stuff. Add in that industrial chicken is fed a nutrient (and iron) deficient diet and its no wonder it is almost transparent!

        • What do you mean my nutrient (and iron) deficient diet? Extensive research has been done on the nutritional requirements of a chicken. The more exactly the ration meets the nutritional requirements of the bird the less time it will take the bird to grow to the desired weight and with less feed needed to do so. Not meeting the nutrient requirements of the bird is counterproductive for commercial producers.

          • Hi Brad,
            It doesn’t destroy omega-3s. The concern would be aluminum or BPA from the can. It’s probably fine.

      • Coloring differences in the chicken meat and fat are nothing more than an indication of the amount of xanthophyll (pigmentation) found in the chicken’s diet. Commercial poultry producers can manipulate the color of the meat/fat by adding marigold petals to the chicken rations – this is done in certain areas where the local culture feels that chicken should look like ____. The pigmentation is NEVER an indication of nutritional quality of the meat. The same is also true of the color of egg yolks.

      • How do you know that chickens “have never walked in their lives”? Have you actually walked into a commercial poultry house? This could not be farther from the truth – assuming you are talking about broiler chickens (ones you eat – NOT layers – ones that lay eggs). If you were to walk into a commercial broiler house it would be one very large open space with feeding troughs and water nipples running down through the house. The chickens would be moving around and in fact there would be vast open spaces of floor in the house.

  16. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the great post.

    I’m currently living in southern China. I buy meat from the local market. Its either Chicken, Pork, Seafood or Beef.

    The beef is poor quality. Chicken and Pork seem to be poor choices of meat in general, let alone coming from probably poor raising here in China. Seafood is available and quite abundant.

    Questions:
    1. I think seafood should make up majority of my meat intake, do you agree?
    2. If so, do you have a list of fish that would be safe/healthy to eat on a regular basis?
    3. Will a higher intake of fish be ok for building muscle (bulking?)

    Thanks Paul

    John

  17. Paul, what are your thoughts on the food combining method to separate starches from proteine, etc? Thanks, Mark

  18. I finally figured out that my ‘mood crashes’ the day after eating even pastured chickens and pastured eggs was due to the soy in the farmers feed. The same thing happens to a lesser degree if I have soy-fed pork. (I can tolerate only well-fermented soy, and not very often.)

    Even ‘pastured chickens’ are fed some kind of soy in their supplemental grain feed unless the farmer makes a large effort to avoid it. Much of the phytoestrogens in the feed makes its way into the chicken and eggs.

    ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15374616 )

    When I can get our hands on a soy free bird (and when our soy free backyard hens are laying) I have no problem with melodramatic crying spells, etc the next day.

    I’d encourage anyone who feels a bit ‘off’ after eating chicken/eggs to source out non soy-fed versions to see if it makes a difference for them as well. What our food eats is of huge importance.

    • Very interesting Elizabeth! Thanks for that.

      • Kaayla Daniel – a nutritionist who writes for the Weston A Price Foundation, has written extensively about problems from soy, and this great article about getting “second hand soy” from eggs.

        I have no trouble believing this. when I was growing ip on the farm, we could tell the differences in eggs from what the chickens were eating. /Springtime on grass and bugs, sweet eggs, feed them fish scraps, and “fishy” eggs (but probably very healthy). On wheat in winter, very bland eggs, and so on.

        I have no doubt that the industrial feedstocks used for chickens have bad ingredients to start with – PUFA’s are likely oxidised already, and the chickens just aren;t in healthy conditions = unhealthy meat and eggs.

        I agree with Eugenia’s comments on older chickens – you have to know how to cook them, but they are great!

      • wow, soy -> depression for those who’re sensitive.

        our local Whole Foods has both pastured eggs & “soy free eggs”
        (am not sure which one is better).

      • Yes. It’s nearly impossible to find an egg producer who doesn’t use soy. Even “organic fed, pasture-raised” eggs are given lots of soy.

        Kaayla Daniel wrote about the problem here:

        http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert/the-soy-ling-of-america-second-hand-soy-from-animal-feeds

        See also:

        Vargas Galdos, Dante Miguel Marcial. Quantification of Soy Isoflavones in commercial eggs and their transfer from poultry feed into eggs and tissues. Thesis. Ohio State University, Food Science and Technology Graduate Program, 2009

        (FYI: The server that hosts this paper is currently offline today)

        It used to be that you fed your chickens table scraps and leftover food refuse. But, if you are selling eggs to many people, you can’t easily do that and still make money. So, the problem for any egg producer is that it’s really difficult to get a chicken to lay eggs when your chicken feed doesn’t have soy in it. The chickens just won’t find enough protein in a typical fenced-in pasture. This is why almost all chicken feed is full of soy — as a protein source. Any farmer who has more than a dozen or so hens will not go through the trouble of feeding scraps to its hens. Though pasture access helps improve the nutrition, but it can’t really be done during the winter and it still doesn’t provide the hens with enough protein.

        I found a local farmer who is using sprouted barley for his feed instead of soy. Sprouting improves the nutrition of the barley significantly, and one can save a lot of money by sprouting the grain versus using an expensive feed. I have no idea if sprouting lowers Omega 6s or not (my guess is not).

        In any case, I’m convinced that “pasture-raised” eggs is the equivalent of “natural” in terms of food labeling. Yes, during the summer a “pasture-raised” chicken will get access to some insects and worms, but as the paper listed above shows us, they will still be fed lots of soy 95% of the time in order to get them to lay eggs. And, during the Winter in the northern US, I don’t see how it’s possible for most egg producers to avoid soy unless they resort to table scraps. Right now, most chickens in the US are likely eating 90%-100% feed whether they are “pasture raised” or not.

        In any case, according to Vargas Galdos’s paper I linked to, the eggs with the lowest levels of soy are those fed “Omega-3” diets based on flax seed and fish meal. Whether or not it’s a good idea to expose a high Omega-3 egg to heat or not is beyond my expertise. My sense is that it’s best to barely heat the yolks, or eat them raw, but how safe is the raw yolk from a non-organic hen fed potentially-polluted/toxic fish meal?

        Another option to avoid soy in eggs is to give the chickens “cocofeed” — the feed is based on coconut pulp (very low in Omega 6 and no soy) — but it’s too expensive and only a handful of people currently use it.

        It seems raising your own chickens — fed mostly table scraps and given access to pasture — would be the best option for nutritious eggs. But, I fail to see how realistic that is in today’s modern world.

        My wife seems to get headaches more often when she eats eggs that are fed higher amounts of soy. And I can’t help but wonder if 3 eggs a day will give us too much Omega-6 or not, since the hens are still eating a lot of soy-based feed even when they are “pasture raised”.

        I’m certainly not an expert eggspert, but I’m still eating three eggs per day. So I’d love it if Paul looked into this further!

        • The o-3 eggs do seem to be the lesser of these evils. I also eat 3/day as per PHD. Having no pastured eggs in stores here I tried various brands (organic, local commercial), but some I felt consistently awful after eating – but not the flax-fed o-3 eggs. I doubt the o-3 itself is much a factor since these are mostly ALA and offsetting the non-o-3 consumption with sardines didn’t help (then again maybe ALA has some mysterious benefit for all I know).

          They’re not that much total o-6… 0.8g for an extra large egg is most I’ve seen. The nutrients far outweigh the detriments of o-6 total content if considered alone (I think Dr. Jaminet has said the same elsewhere… correct if wrong). It’s more about these other concerns such as soy byproducts and – for me anyhow – the unusually high AA makeup as Shawn Bald brought up above.

        • Elizabeth Craig

          We have 3 backyard chickens, and thankfully we’re near people who own a feed mill and think like we do about soy…

          We purchase a soy-free layer blend that they make up. (They’re rather particular about their feed as one of the owners feeds his own soy-free chickens the blend, our chickens have done well on that + scraps + outdoor bugs)

          Chickens are *easy* to keep in ones backyard. Build a chicken ark! It’s fun to do and gives them functional move-able housing (and it’s kinda pretty too)

        • Hi Dan,

          It’s a very important issue and thank you for assembling this information, also for framing the discussion so well. It is good to know that the omega-3 diets are lower in soy.

          In writing the book, our thought was that the main problem in eggs was the omega-6 and that in the context of a low omega-6 diet that was acceptable in exchange for the nutrients found in yolks. However, the presence of soy and other toxins in the egg may change that calculus, especially for people like your wife who are sensitive to them.

          Does your wife have the same reaction if she eats yolks only?

          It is really frustrating trying to design an implementation of PHD around a food production system that uses unhealthy methods.

          • Paul,

            Thanks for the reply. My wife’s headaches are too sporadic for me to really know if they are actually caused by soy or not. My wife doesn’t really enjoy eating egg yolks alone, so it would be hard to experiment. And we suspect there may be a completely unrelated, underlying cause for the headaches (seasonal allergies, hormones, etc). Perhaps soy is just an additional trigger. Additionally, I believe the soy isoflavones tends to be present in the yolks, so if her headaches are related to soy, I’m not sure that only eating egg yolks would help. Nevertheless, we are eating eggs every day and we do enjoy them.

            I had originally settled on a specific local farm that sold rather expensive fully pastured and organic eggs. At the time my wife was getting 4 headaches a week. By the end of the summer, I came across information regarding soy in eggs and I decided to email the farmer who was producing the fancy eggs. They were proud to tell me that they used Green Mountain Feeds from Vermont and the feed contained “roasted organic soybeans.”

            After researching I found that some people with soy allergies do a bit better from the expensive pasture-raised Vital Farms eggs that are available throughout the US — despite the fact that they use some soy in their eggs (see their website FAQ). However, I suspect people that are very sensitive to soy would still have issues. When we switched to the other brand of eggs, her headaches dropped significantly (one or two a week, or less). But, for all we know, it actually had something to do with seasonal allergies, as we were going into Fall at the time. I have no idea. She is more likely to get a headache on the days we run out of good eggs and use a different farm/brand — but again, it’s very unscientific.

            In any case, we have more recently settled on a local farmer who does not use soy — he uses sprouted barley — but it turns out that he is having trouble getting his hens to produce many eggs and they were very slow to start laying. Though, this may have something to do with the fact that there is snow on the ground and the hens don’t have access to bugs/worms right now. It’s been very frustrating for him.

            So, I’m left wondering if soy is really a big deal or not. I have no idea if the amount of soy isoflavones in eggs are “high” or not. And I suppose it just depends on the feed that is being used and who is eating the eggs and how many eggs are being eaten and how much additional pasture foraging takes place.

            Today, as I look at the Green Mountain Feeds website, I’m noticing that they have a layer feed without soy. Whether it’s any good or not, who knows. But, maybe people are slowly realizing that soy isn’t the best thing to be feeding chickens — unless, of course, your main goal is you want your hens to lay a lot of eggs. (On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder how many more people would be able to eat eggs if they didn’t have soy in them. There’s a big supply/demand Catch-22 there).

            Ultimately, I think there needs to be a campaign to educate farmers and come up with a better solution than soy — whether the solution is sprouting or table scraps, or home-grown eggs I don’t know. I believe WAPF has made this one of their talking points. I really have no idea, but I feel better knowing that you are giving it some thought.

            If you have concerns about this, my recommendation would be to contact Kaayla Daniel, as she is really the soy expert. And I think it’s worth keeping in mind that Dante Miguel Marcial Vargas Galdos’s paper may have some flaws for all we know. I’m not a scientist, so this is all really beyond my expertise. If you are having trouble getting a copy of the Vargas Galdos paper (referenced above) you can contact contact OhioLINK at 614-485-6751 and request them to send the PDF to you.

            Finally, for what it’s worth, here is the WAPF position on pastured eggs (from their Soy FAQ):

            Q. Will the phytoestrogens get into the eggs of chicken fed soy?

            A. Yes, the phytoestrogens can end up in the yolks–not as high as in commercial eggs, but they will be there. However, eggs are such a good food that we still recommend them.

            One of our goals is to get farmers away from using soy for their chickens. But this is going to be difficult as the practice is almost universal–even for pastured poultry. We’d like to see chickens given whey, skim milk and bugs as their protein source. But without soy (which contains growth-stimulating estrogens), chickens grow much slower. Consumers must be prepared to pay more for soy-less chicken and eggs.

            So, this leads me to believe that the benefits of eggs outweight the harmful effects of soy. But, again, I’m not an expert, so I’m just going by what I’m reading. We still eat eggs and I personally seem to be doing well on them.

          • Talked to my local farmer today, who does not feed his hens soy. He’s been feeding the chickens sprouted barley, plus all the grass fed whey they want as well as a few table scraps for their protein. Still, his hens are still not producing a lot of eggs.

            Turns out, other farmers — even those who feed their hens soy — are having the same problem. Seems to be an issue with cold weather, short daylight hours and molting schedules — apparently this can all affect egg production.

            The good news is that feeding the hens a non-soy diet does not seem to be the underlying cause of the lower egg production. Other factors seem to be at play at this time of year.

  19. Hi Paul, I don’t speak english very well, sorry. My question is: I’m eating a can of cod liver weekly (only 1 can, in their own oil, the product is: “canned cod liver”). It gives me 60,000 units of vitamin A and 6,000 units of vitamin D (and about 10 grams of omega 3.. the label says). Do you think I’m doing well?
    See the content of vitamins of cod liver in this old paper: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/38/4/489.full.pdf

    • Hi Jesus,

      That’s a lot of vitamin A especially, and a substantial amount of omega-3 fat. If you eat that then you pretty much have to purge the rest of your diet of A and EPA/DHA. It might be better to eat it every other week. We recommend fish and animal livers for omega-3 and vitamin A.

  20. Aaron Ashmann (halotek)

    Paul, I can agree with you that we don’t want omega 6 intake to be too high with most individuals. Here is my question, if you are a male at 6-9% body fat, are you really going to be accumulating omega 6 fat in tissue in a way that is going to be as bad as someone who has 15-20% body fat (we know that omegas accumulate in people who carry extra body fat)? We know from studies that caloric restriction lessens the content of omegas in our tissues. I’m starting to think that as long as you are thin,and get a little bit of omega 3 DHA, you don’t have to worry about omega 6 intakes as much because I bet it is burned. If you have other studies to prove otherwise, please share.

    • Hi Aaron,

      If you are physically active then you have a greater ability to burn it than someone who is not active. That said, it can still do harm in excess. It’s not possible to sustain a caloric deficit so that’s not a long term solution. The best way is still to eat a low omega-6 diet.

      • Aaron Ashmann (halotek)

        I still want to know if there are any studies that show what you are saying in thin individuals. It is only conjecture that omega 6 would be bad if these individuals do not show heavy accumulations of omega 6 in their tissues (at their low weight).

        I just want people to know that most of the studies showing omega 6 problems are in people who have the usual fat reserves (and accumulations of omega 6).

  21. Hi Paul:

    I want to breifly get your opinion from a scientific standpoint on Dr. Burzynski/Antineoplastons.

    • Don’t forget that your cell membranes are still composed of lipids, no matter how lean you are. My assumption would be dietary intake would have some affect on your total cell membrane lipid composition, so it’s not just a matter of fat being stored. Although being active and leaner is generally beneficial in most areas, so you are likely right in some degree.

  22. I have one question for you Paul.

    I’ve been eating a diet very high in omega-6 for most of my life(food cooked with sunflower oil). Two years ago I started eating low carb paleo diet, and one year ago the PHD diet, giving importance to omega 6 content. How much time is necessary to decrease the concentration of omega 6 in my tissues?

    Thanks

    • Hi Gaizka,

      It depends on whether you were obese/overweight or not. If you are lean then you should have fixed it by now. If you are overweight then your adipose tissue may still contain an excess of omega-6. In clinical trials it took 4 years for adipose tissue fatty acids to normalize.

  23. If I can’t afford or find grass fed beef where I live, is conventional lean red meat with any visible fat trimmed off a somewhat acceptable solution for minimizing levels of omega 6?
    I will also increase my seafood intake in lieu of decreased chicken consumption.
    I am having a devil of a time loosing weight and I need to lose about 50lbs.

  24. So what if you’ve got hemochromatosis, and also can’t really afford to eat fish on a daily basis. Seems like I’m screwed either way. I usually just buy the chicken breasts, slow cook them naked in the crock pot, then grab them and throw them on salads, with eggs, pair with yams and veggies throughout the week. I still have my weekly liver and donate blood often. I have successfully kept my iron levels low thanks to this method. It allows me to afford wild caught salmon once a week. Since I’m active, I need the higher protein.

    Is an alright method?

  25. so do i have to change from bottoms to tops?
    I thought bottoms are healthier since they have fat with protein and the tops are the ones that get the needle shots.

  26. Hi Paul, the author of this article also has a PhD and he claims that omega 6’s are not bad. Can you respond to some of the claims he presents?

    http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_nutrition/are_omega6_fats_really_that_bad

  27. Great article Paul. Check out my insight on why Grass-Fed beef dominates poultry in nutrient density: http://www.naturalnews.com/034445_grass-fed_beef_nutrients_poultry.html

    • Aaron Ashmann (halotek)

      I know the nutrient density argument gets passed around a lot in the paleo community, but one can also say beef has an excess of nutrients we don’t need (too many to list in this little post). The protein in beef is very similar to our own makeup and seems to cause psoriasis like conditions in people without them really knowing.

      Basically, I am saying we should view red meat as a treat once in a while. Not something we should have every day.

      • Hi Aaron,

        If you re-read your post I hope you will realize you are just spreading uncertainty without even a hint at facts that may back up your claims. We like facts here, especially when you’re proposing strong concerns like psoriasis symptoms from red meat consumption.

      • A Pubmed search for “beef psoriasis” turns up only one paper, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=beef%20psoriasis, and it is a short Brazilian pilot trial in which they gave a wide range of advice to psoriasis patients including avoidance of red meat. Their reasoning was that excess iron might be a problem, and that Brazilians often grill beef at high temperatures creating toxins. We recommend blood donation to control iron and gentle cooking, so those considerations wouldn’t apply to us.

        I think it’s fair to say there’s no known connection between eating beef and psoriasis.

        • I was inspired by this as I know a person -whole loves a good steak or lamb roast – who resolved their psoriasis not by cutting out meat, but by cutting out (what else?) wheat!

          A pubmed search came up with over a hundred references of psoriasis and gluten, and many reporting positive associations of gliadin antiboidies with psoriasis.

          This study, which looked at nutritional ways to manage psoriasis, found that vit A, D, n-3, and positive effects of UV-B phototherapy, B12, selenium *and* a gluten free diet.
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21034986

          And finally, there was a study done that looked at “red meat” and psoriasis. Five chronic psoriasis patients ate a diet according to Edgar Cayce,
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15387720

          ” included a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, small amounts of protein from fish and fowl, fiber supplements, olive oil, and avoidance of red meat, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates. Saffron tea and slippery elm bark water were consumed daily. The five psoriasis cases, ranging from mild to severe at the study onset, improved on all measured outcomes over a six-month period”

          If I had to bet my next year’s income on it being the elimination of gluten or red meat that made the difference, I know which one I’d put my money on.

      • @ Aaron,
        I think to say “an excess of nutrients we don’t need” is very ambiguous.
        Are you saying it has nutrients we don’t need, or that it has an excess of stuff we do need?
        Assuming the latter, this can only be the case if the diet is getting all these nutrients from other sources. If not beef/red meat then it is likely to be fish/seafood.

        A recent study found that an astonishing 68% of vegetarians and 83% of vegans are B12 deficient (<a href="http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/1/131.long"<link compared to 5% of omnivores
        [From new write up about B12 by Chris Kresser]

        I am yet to see any evidence of “excessive B12”, though I guess that is theoretically possible, though would be hard to do from food sources.

        I think we should view chocolate as a treat – red meat is real nutrition and there is nothing wrong with eating some every day.

        Interesting aside – adding red meat to the diet of 4 month old babies for the next 4 months produces better results than an iron fortified cereal food – as measured by “head circumference” and “behaviour index”
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16456417

        Manufactured baby food has to be one of the worst inventions ever!

        • @Paul N,

          i also think red meat should be of no problem since it impossible to overeat (for me,
          cause it’s not “rewarding” also pretty “bland” haha XD)

          & chocolate should be a treat
          chocolate.

          i also don’t know why nature would not provide us way to rid of excessive iron, except by loosing blood. maybe there is a mechanism to be found?

          regards,

        • Aaron Ashmann (halotek)

          I’ll admit I was not that rigorous in defending my comments above.

          Is it even possible to prove that people who are eating 4-8 oz of red meat every day are healthier than people who do not? There have been many epistemological studies linking red meat to an earlier death (just throw out my comment on psoriasis because that was just happening to me when i was consuming grass fed beef almost every day). Now, maybe those studies (on increased death rate from red meat) are complete bull as some have said, but I like to error on the side of “caution” because I have never seen real convincing arguments besides glorifying the nutrients in red meat that it would be healthy to eat it EVERY day.

          I stand by my statement that at this time we probably don’t want to eat red meat more than 1-2 times a week if you are consuming 4-8oz at a time.

          I would like more data before I label it “the health food” the paleo community has labeled it.

  28. Hi Paul – great article! Do you have similar concerns about pasture-raised turkey?

    • Hi Michelle, I think naturally raised birds are great foods to eat up to several days per week, so I support eating pasture-raised turkeys. It is soy & grain feeds and lack of exercise from confined birds (or genetic breeds that don’t like to move) that worry me.

  29. That’s it! I’m done w/ chickens. They are dirty birds.

    • if you want to have “poultry” occasionally, and want it to be “good” I’d recommend having duck (or goose, if you can find it). You usually have to buy them frozen, but they usually come from “real” farms.

      Plus there is the bonus that, unlike chicken, the duck or goose fat is stuff you want to keep and use. Try sauteing potato or sweet potato in duck fat – amazing!

      • I’d be willing to try a duck.
        Thanks for the suggestion. 😛

        • Here’s a great way to do duck, from the inimitable Gordon Ramsay I had come to his conclusions also – to treat duck more like steak than chicken – otherwise it becomes tough and stringy.

          Also, his honey roasted duck with green beans and hazelnuts – an almost perfect PHD meal.
          I say almost as it is missing the safe starch – saute those potatoes in the duck fat and you are done!

        • Aaron Ashmann (halotek)

          How dirty is chicken breast without skin? Something tells me there isn’t that much omega 6 there. Of course, you still have to pay attention to the horrible conditions from which they are raised.

          • It will depend on what that chicken ate. Industrially raised chicken fed soy – awful.
            “real farm” or backyard chicken- amazing!
            It’s that simple
            Industrial production, even with “organic” ingredients, is just awful.

    • dirty indeed. chickens usually have the worst living condition than pigs & cows for factory farming.

      duck tastes better to me too.

      but doesn’t duck fat also high O6? (it surely tastes good tho).

      • Actually, duck fat is mostly MUFA and SAFA than PUFA (I can’t believe I am using so many acronyms!)

        And, if the ducks eat a low O6 diet, so is their meat (and eggs)

  30. 2 words – eat pastured.

    We shouldn’t even be looking at industrial CAFO animals as food anymore. They aren’t. Support your local grass-based farmer, or grow your own!

  31. Hi Paul,

    I’d like to make salmon stock with the head. I know classical recipe texts do not recommend oily fish for stock because of the strong smell or the oxidation of omega 3’s. Would the omega 3’s still be damaged if I simmer under low heat and for only 2 hours? What if I cool the stock and skim off the fat to still take advantage of all the other glandular goodies in the stock. What strategies would you recommend for salmon head stock?

  32. Friday 130125 | CrossFit NYC - pingback on January 25, 2013 at 1:08 am
  33. Weekend Link Love - Edition 227 | Mark's Daily Apple - pingback on January 27, 2013 at 10:59 am
  34. “Chickens were bred for rapid growth, but the modern Cornish Rock hens develop arthritis around age ten weeks, are often infertile, and prefer not to walk.”

    While this may be true commercially raised broiler chickens only live between 42 and 60 days (6-8.5 weeks) before they are processed so I am not sure how this is an issue. They are not raised to produce eggs so not sure why infertility is an issue – that is what layers are raised to do. Broiler breeders will have issues walking only if they are overfed.

    “Factory farmed chickens are also fed arsenic, antibiotics, antihistamines, and, in China, antidepressants.”

    Arsenic has been outlawed in poultry feed since last year. Prior to that is was included because all animals including humans actually have a nutritional requirement for arsenic – it is only when you exceed that requirement you have problems.

    Antihistamines are not used in poultry rations. Why would poultry producers be interested in controlling the allergic responses of the chickens?

    While some of the other information in this article may be correct there are some gross inaccuracies in one of the opening sections of the article.

    • Hi Rachel,

      Paul didn’t infer anything from the Cornish Rock hens – he merely stated a rather sad and correct fact.

      The second statement is also completely correct if outdated by a year. You cannot have antihistamines in feathers if the chickens were not fed them somehow. Furthermore, why was arsenic outlawed? Was the rationing often too much?

      So I think it’s unfair to say that these are inaccuracies. In his conclusion Paul explicitly states that the biggest concern is Omega-6 and that will certainly not change any time soon. Omega-6 rich feeds are simply too cheap.

    • Regarding the infertility comment you made:

      Is is that they aren’t living long enough to become fertile, or would they never become fertile no matter how long they lived?

      If the latter, that would seem to me a situation for concern.

      • The statement does not really give enough information to make any inferences from it regarding commercial poultry production. “Cornish Rock Hens” are not specifically used in the majority of commercial poultry production. The large majority of Broilers chickens are either “Cobb 500” or “Ross 308” and there are also a few specific varieties of chickens used for layers the majority of the time (each have been bred through selective breeding practices for specific traits; broilers were bred to be able to put on meat efficiently and quickly; layers were bred to excel at reproduction/egg production; I am not referring to genetic modification but instead selective breeding; this is similar to the fact the yorkies and bull mastifs are both the same breed-dog- even though they are very different in appearance). Commercially raised Layers (chickens raised to lay eggs) do not reach sexual maturity until 21 weeks of age (they can start as early as 18 weeks but 21 is preferred and commercial producers will try to prevent sexual maturity until 21 weeks of age).

  35. The most common/popular broilers used in commercial production are either the Cobb 400 or the Ross 308 and they only live between 42 and 60 days.

    3-Nitro is an arsenic-based animal drug. It was approved to help prevent coccidiosis when used in combination with certain animal drugs. Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease that infects the intestinal tracts in poultry and can lead to death in poultry. 3-Nitro was also approved for weight gain, feed efficiency and improved pigmentation in chickens.

    Arsenic is in the environment as a naturally occurring substance or as a contaminant and is found in water, air, soil, and food. Published scientific reports have indicated that organic arsenic, a less toxic form of arsenic and the form present in 3-Nitro® (roxarsone), an approved animal drug, could transform into inorganic arsenic. In response, scientists from the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition developed an analytical method capable of detecting very low levels of inorganic arsenic in edible tissue.

    Using the new method, FDA scientists found that the levels of inorganic arsenic in the livers of chickens treated with 3-Nitro® were increased relative to levels in the livers of the untreated control chickens.

    Alpharma, a subsidiary of Pfizer, Inc., decided to voluntarily suspend sale of 3-Nitro® and to facilitate an orderly process for suspending use of the product in the United States. Alpharma’s plan provides for continued sales of 3-Nitro® for 30 days from June 8, 2011. The company stated that allowing sales for this period will provide time for animal producers to transition to other treatment strategies and will help ensure that animal health and welfare needs are met. FDA officials stress that the levels of inorganic arsenic detected were very low and that continuing to eat chicken as 3-Nitro® is suspended from the market does not pose a health risk.

    http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/ProductSafetyInformation/ucm257540.htm

    Regarding the statement about antihistamines – see my response to another comment above – the study cited as the source for this information is flawed and poorly designed. It should not be used as a basis for these claims.

    • Hi Rachel,

      Thanks for your responses! I think it’s great that this level of scrutiny is given to industrially produced chicken. Science at work!

      For me this provides hope that we can produce healthful foods at large scale. All that may be required is more awareness about what is healthful and market forces should do the rest, just like they did when saturated fat was declared evil and whole grains divine.

  36. Hello Paul,

    What are you thoughts on bone broth from free-range chickens (this coming from someone living outside the US)? I always skim the fat off before drinking/using it. I usually use some pieces with meat in it (thighs, etc) and usually shred leftover meat when the broth is done – do you think the meat still holds some nutrition?

    Like others in the comments, I eat chicken once per week (if at all), and usually go for skinless breast, which I then “fat up” with coconut milk for curries or some other specific dishes (xacuti, a traditional dish from Goa, is a favorite and it calls for quite some shredded coconut).

  37. Paul, lately I’ve been trying to increase my omega three consumption from whole foods by eating more canned wild sockeye (‘red’) salmon. Canned salmon is apparently boiled in the can as part of the production process. Do you think this is destroying the Omega 3 content of the salmon?

    Unfortunately, I can’t handle the taste of sardines and anchovies, and wild fresh salmon is quite expensive. I had thought the canned red salmon was a good compromise. Do you agree?

    If not, any ideas for increasing Omega 3 consumption via whole foods?

    Thanks for your work.

  38. My suggestion would be to stop using automated tools to spam people’s blogs.

  39. Live Below the Line: Day 4 - pingback on May 3, 2013 at 7:12 am
  40. Links of the week 25 January 2013 - pingback on May 20, 2013 at 4:45 am
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  42. FYI.. Those two comments, above are spam — those comments are meaningless and could have appeared on any website.

  43. Paleo Chicken Wings | Blue Cheese Dressing | Byrd House Paleo - pingback on June 19, 2016 at 11:14 am

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