Chickens, humans and other animals produce cholesterol, a waxy substance that helps build and maintain healthy cells. Your body needs a certain level of cholesterol to create vitamin D, manufacture bile acids that digest your food and produce hormones that regulate sexual function and other body processes. Too much cholesterol, however, increases your risk of developing coronary heart disease. Saturated fats from meat, poultry and dairy products raise your cholesterol level.
Since chickens produce and store cholesterol in their livers, chicken liver and pates made from liver are particularly high in cholesterol. A 100 g serving, or about 3.5 oz., of pan-fried chicken livers contains 564 mg of cholesterol. When you eat dark chicken meat, you ingest a significant amount of cholesterol.
A 100 g serving of roasted, skinless thigh meat has 95 mg of cholesterol, compared to 85 mg in the same size portion of roasted, skinless white meat. When it comes to cholesterol, the cooking method doesn''t make a big difference. You get 87 mg of cholesterol from 100 g of fried and battered chicken with the skin attached, and 84 mg from the same amount of roasted chicken and skin.
Chicken liver is relatively low in saturated fat, with 2 g of fat in a 100 g serving. Cooking methods make a difference. A serving of roasted whole chicken meat with skin has 2 g of saturated fat, while fried and battered chicken delivers 4.6 g, or more than twice the amount. Depending upon the cut of chicken you select, you can cut the fat content by up to 44 percent simply by removing the skin. The best chicken entrée in terms of saturated fat content is roasted, skinless white meat, at 4.5 g in a 100 g serving.
Make smart choices about the calorie content of various chicken entrees. A 100 g serving of fried and battered chicken has a whopping 289 calories, the same amount of roasted thigh meat holds 209 calories, roasted chicken meat and skin has 197 calories, and roasted white meat comes in the lowest at 173 calories in 100 g, or about a 3.5-oz. portion.
When you have too much cholesterol in your blood, the excess low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol combines with saturated fats to create hard plaques on the lining of the arteries serving your heart. Over time, these plaques reduce the flow of oxygen and other nutrients to your heart muscle, and you develop coronary heart disease. A diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol helps prevent plaque formation and improves your heart health.