Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cooking Light: What They're Stickin' in the Chicken

"Poultry's Salty Little Secret" - Jan/Feb 2011

According to the article, "about one-third of the fresh chicken found in supermarket meat cases has been synthetically saturated with a mix of water, salt, and other additives via needle injections and high-pressure vacuum tumbling." Designed to make the meat juicier and more tender, it also increases the sodium content by nearly 1000%. (Yes, that's one thousand.)

While some sodium is naturally-occurring in chicken (which never occurred to me...), it's minimal - often less than 75 mg per 4-oz. serving. "Enhanced" chicken can have as high as 440 mg per 4-oz. serving. This is still significantly lower than the RDA of 2,300 mg of sodium, but is it necessary?

I rarely buy fresh chicken from the meat counter. Instead I buy a large bag of individually frozen, skinless, boneless chicken breasts. I don't know if they're available without the added "broth solution", as some companies call it. I checked the two bags in my freezer (from different companies) and they both have additional sodium, about 200 mg per 4-oz. serving.

Now that I'm aware of it, I can reduce the amount of salt I add to my chicken dishes. I know most prepackaged foods have higher sodium contents than making similar dishes from scratch, and I typically stay away from them. Still, I want to keep my sodium intake lower. I can always tell when I've had too much because my hands swell. (That's typical after eating out, as opposed cooking my own food.)

Next time I'm shopping for chicken, I'll be sure to read the label closely to make sure the chicken I'm getting has just a small amount of extra sodium added, if any at all.

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