Fried Chicken > Are fried chicken gizzards bad for you

Are Fried Chicken Gizzards Bad for You?

Chicken gizzards are a staple of soul food menus and barbecue joints across the American South. These oddly-shaped, tough-textured chicken organs have a distinct, mineral-y flavor that gizzard enthusiasts can’t get enough of.

But just because they taste good doesn’t mean fried chicken gizzards are necessarily good for you. Should you be indulging in fried gizzards with abandon, or is it better to enjoy them in moderation? Let’s peck through the health effects of this crispy treat.

What the Chicken Gizzard Actually Is?

Before we dive into nutrition, it helps to understand exactly what a chicken gizzard is. Gizzards are part of the digestive system of chickens and other birds. Located between the crop and stomach, the gizzard is essentially a muscular grinding mill that chickens use to pulverize their food, since they don’t have teeth. Composed almost entirely of smooth muscle, gizzards contract to mash up grains, seeds, and insects into digestible pieces.

So in essence, we are eating pre-chewed chicken food when we bite into fried gizzards! But while the concept may not sound appetizing, fans of the unique texture and rich, irony taste of gizzards will attest this muscular organ meat makes for finger-lickin’ good eatin’.

Are fried chicken gizzards bad for you?

Fried chicken gizzards can be unhealthy when eaten in excess, but enjoyed occasionally in moderation can be part of a balanced diet for most people. Here are some key points on the health impacts of fried chicken gizzards:

    • Gizzards are high in protein, iron, zinc and phosphorus – nutrients beneficial for building muscle, immunity, metabolism and bone health. 
    • However, the process of deep frying adds a large amount of saturated fat and cholesterol, about 4g and 137 mg respectively per 3 oz serving.
    • This fried preparation puts gizzards in conflict with heart health recommendations. The American Heart Association advises limiting daily saturated fat to 5-6% of calories (a single serving of fried gizzards provides over 20%) and restricting cholesterol consumption to less than 300mg per day.
    • Regularly consuming fried gizzards can therefore increase risk factors for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other conditions linked to excessive saturated fat and cholesterol intake.
    • Preparing gizzards by baking, grilling, sautéing or stewing significantly reduces the fat and cholesterol content compared to frying.

 

Overall, fried chicken gizzards are best enjoyed in moderation no more than 2-3 times per month, in portions of 3 oz or less. Emphasize healthier cooking methods for regular consumption to obtain the most nutritional benefits from gizzards while limiting harmful fats.

So in summary, fried chicken gizzards are not inherently bad, but the high fat and cholesterol resulting from frying makes them an unhealthy regular part of the diet. Practicing moderation and utilizing healthier cooking methods can allow you to enjoy their unique flavor and nutrients while avoiding potential negative effects on heart health.

Related post: Are fried chicken cutlets bad for you?

Are fried chicken gizzards good for you?

With ample protein and nutrients like iron and zinc, chicken gizzards can be part of a healthy diet when prepared properly. But the high fat and cholesterol content of fried gizzards mean they should only be an occasional treat.

Enjoy fried gizzards occasionally in moderation, but emphasize healthier preparations like baking, grilling, or sautéing for most meals. Limit portions to 3 oz and do not consume more than 2-3 times per month.

Nutritional Pros: Protein, Minerals and More

When prepared properly, chicken gizzards can actually be quite nutritious. Here’s a nutritional breakdown of 3 ounces of cooked, fried gizzards:

    • Calories: 223
    • Protein: 20g (40% DV)
    • Fat: 15g (23% DV)
    • Carbs: 0g
    • Iron: 2.4mg (13% DV)
    • Zinc: 2.2mg (20% DV)
    • Thiamin: 12% DV
    • Phosphorus: 15% DV

 

With 20 grams of protein in each serving, gizzards are an excellent source of this macronutrient. Getting enough protein promotes muscle growth and maintenance, wound healing, healthy hair, skin and nails, and immune function.

Gizzards also contain substantial amounts of the minerals iron and zinc. Iron carries oxygen throughout the body and supports energy levels, while zinc boosts immunity and wound healing. The B-vitamin thiamin and mineral phosphorus round out the nutritional profile with benefits for metabolism and bone health.

So in many regards, chicken gizzards deliver ample nutrition in each meaty mouthful. But there are some nutritional cons to keep in mind, too…

Nutritional Cons: Saturated Fat and Cholesterol

When it comes to the question “Are fried chicken gizzards bad for you?”, the preparation method really impacts the answer. Deep frying adds a significant amount of fat and calories:

    • Total fat: 15g (23% DV)
    • Saturated fat: 4g (20% DV)
    • Cholesterol: 137mg (46% DV)
    • Sodium: 203mg (9% DV)

 

The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to 5-6% of total daily calories. Just one serving of fried gizzards provides over 20% of this amount. Diets high in saturated fat raise levels of unhealthful LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, increasing risk of heart disease.

The cholesterol content of fried chicken gizzards is also concerning at 137 milligrams per serving. The AHA recommends consuming no more than 300 mg of cholesterol per day. Considering chicken gizzards already contain substantial cholesterol before frying, deep-frying them brings the numbers into dangerous territory.

Clearly, fried preparation drives up fat and cholesterol numbers substantially. From a heart health perspective, restraint is required when indulging in fried chicken gizzards.

Are fried chicken gizzards healthy?

While chicken gizzards supply nutrients like protein, iron, and zinc, frying them adds a lot of saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily saturated fat to 5-6% of calories, but one fried gizzard serving provides over 20%.

Fried gizzards also contain almost half of the recommended daily cholesterol intake. So while the gizzards themselves are relatively healthy, deep frying them negates many of the potential health benefits. It’s best to enjoy fried gizzards in moderation as an occasional treat.

Healthier Ways to Prepare Gizzards

Luckily, chicken gizzards don’t have to be fried for you to enjoy their rich, unique flavor. Healthier preparation methods include:

    • Grilling: Get a nice char while allowing excess fat to drip away
    • Baking: Crisp them up in the oven instead of oil
    • Sautéing/stir-frying: Use minimal healthy oil like avocado or olive oil
    • Stewing/slow-cooking: Braise gizzards in broth-based dishes like soup
    • Skewering: Alternate with veggies on kebabs for a balanced meal

 

These preparation methods significantly reduce the fat and cholesterol numbers compared to deep frying. Consuming gizzards this way allows you to enjoy both their great taste and nutritional benefits while keeping added oils and cholesterol in check.

Health Risks of Too Many Fried Gizzards

Studies suggest regularly consuming fried foods like gizzards can increase risk for:

    • Obesity: Fried foods promote weight gain and fat accumulation, especially belly fat.
    • Heart disease: Frying adds artery-clogging saturated fat, trans fats, and cholesterol.
    • Diabetes: Frequent fried food intake is linked to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
    • Cancer: Carcinogens like acrylamide and aldehyde form in oil during frying and may raise cancer risk.
    • Liver damage: Excess fried fat intake can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
    • Inflammation: Fried oil degrades into harmful oxidative and inflammatory byproducts in the body.

 

With all of these concerns, enjoying gizzards and other fried foods only occasionally is best. Those with high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity, or diabetes risk may want to avoid fried gizzards altogether to limit saturated fat and trans fat intake.

The Verdict: Occasional Indulgence Only

When it comes to the question “Are fried chicken gizzards good for you?”, moderation and proper portion sizes are key. While they can be an occasional treat, their high fat content can negatively impact heart health and waistlines when consumed regularly. Limit portions to 3 ounces and indulge no more than once or twice per month.

Preparing gizzards through healthier cooking methods allows you to enjoy their unique taste and stellar nutritional profile while avoiding the pitfalls of deep frying. Overall, savor fried gizzards in moderation as a special treat, and emphasize these Southern delicacies’ healthier side the rest of the time. Your body and your cardiologist will thank you!

FAQs

Are gizzards healthy for weight loss?

Chicken gizzards can support a healthy weight loss diet because they are low in calories and high in filling protein. However, fried gizzards are not the best option, as frying adds unnecessary saturated fat and calories. For weight loss, it is healthiest to prepare gizzards by baking, grilling, or sautéing lightly to avoid excess fats. Portion control is also key – a serving of 3 ounces of cooked gizzards 2-3 times per week can be part of a well-balanced, reduced calorie meal plan.

Is chicken gizzard good for kidneys?

Chicken gizzards are lower in phosphorus than other meat sources, so they can be a healthy choice for people with chronic kidney disease who need to limit dietary phosphorus. However, fried gizzards may be too high in fat, cholesterol, and salt to fit into a renal diet. It’s best to consult your doctor or dietitian before adding any new foods like gizzards to your individualized kidney-friendly diet.

Is chicken liver, gizzard, and heart healthy?

Chicken livers, gizzards, and hearts supply beneficial nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins to the diet. However, they are higher in cholesterol than chicken breast, and preparation methods like frying add a significant amount of unhealthy saturated fat.

It’s healthiest to eat these chicken organs baked, grilled, or sautéed in moderation as part of a varied diet. Limit portions to 3 ounces only 2-3 times per week. People with heart disease risk factors may want to avoid chicken organs due to their high cholesterol content.

 

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