Should We Eat Chicken? Or Not?

Terry Treadwell, MD, FACS


Wounds. 2018;30(9):A8 

Dear Readers,

Obviously, we all want to eat a healthy diet, at least as much as possible. One of the items we are often told to avoid is red meat; instead, we should eat mostly chicken and other white meat. But it seems there are those that do not agree with that advice. Recently, Sports Illustrated reported that Jim Harbaugh, the head football coach at the University of Michigan, has encouraged his players not to eat chicken[1] — his reason: the chicken is a nervous bird! He also wholly believes some illness has worked its way into humans due to consuming chicken rather than beef![1] Coach Harbaugh thinks eating white meat has caused problems with illness, but that pork is safe to eat — he must have overlooked the fact that pork is considered a white meat as well.

Perhaps it is just the connection between football and chicken that is the problem. A recent news story[2] tells of a man and his son who where watching an NFL football game and an argument started over the food — chicken wings. It escalated to the point in which the 77-year-old father shot the son in the chest. The son survived, but the father has been convicted of "domestic violence." The prosecuting district attorney said, "This must have been some really good chicken."[2]

In a more serious vein, a recent manuscript in a reputable wound journal has reported an association between chicken consumption and venous disease.[3] In 2016, Lishov and colleagues[4] found the chances of developing varicose veins are reduced by eating foods containing vitamins C, E, B6, and B12; the minerals copper, magnesium, and sodium; bioflavonoids; and fiber. Their study[4] compared a patient's consumption of beef, pork, chicken, fish, and eggs with the development and severity of varicose veins. A number of other risk factors were evaluated as well, but of the meats consumed, only chicken showed a relationship to venous disease. The more chicken people ate, the lower the risk of developing venous disease.[3]

In writing this editorial, I have learned a lot about chickens. I never knew that chickens were "nervous birds" or that they brought disease to mankind. I did not know a chicken could possibly incite violence when combined with NFL football. I was unaware that eating more chicken might protect my venous system from damage. In the end, I guess eating a "nervous bird" is reasonable if it will protect my health.


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