Role of poultry meat in human diet

Contributed by technical team of Rossari Biotech Limited AHN Division Dr. Shruti S., Dr. Aashaq Hussain, Dr. Sumanta De, Dr. Subrata Chowdhury, Dr. Nagarajan L., Dr.Vishal Surve, Dr. Anish Kumar & Mr. Edward Menezes

What constitutes the basis of a balanced diet?

A balanced diet is the one that provides adequate growth, development and health. It is necessary to include variety in the food to ensure the intake of all essential nutrients. No single food can supply all the nutrients that a human body needs. An adequate diet provides all necessary nutrients obtained by judicious combination of different foodstuffs from varying food groups, rich in different essential nutrients. For health we need to supply our body with energy, 20 amino acids and a plethora of different vitamins and minerals. This is the reason that every culture involves consumption of a combination diet (for maintaining proper balance of nutrient intake that can’t be obtained from consuming a single food ingredient). For instance, if a person decides to go on a complete ‘only potato’ diet, it would fulfil his need for the essential amino acids required to build protein, repair damaged cells/tissues and fight diseases; however, the body will experience mineral and vitamin deficiencies. Furthermore, potatoes being rich in carbohydrates, it will spike the blood glucose levels straining the insulin system.

A balanced diet must provide all the nutrients in required amounts and proper proportions. It can easily be achieved through a blend of the four basic food groups, viz.

  1. Cereals, millets & pulses
  2. Vegetables & fruits
  3. Milk & milk products, egg, meat, fish
  4. Oils & fats, nuts & oilseeds

A balanced diet would comprise of food from every food group providing around 50-60% of total calories from carbohydrates, preferably from complex carbohydrates, about 10-15% from proteins and 20-30% from both visible and invisible fat.

Role of poultry meat in balanced diet

The correlation between consumption of meat and human health is multifaceted. Poultry meat is an important component of a healthy and well balanced diet due to its nutritional richness with moderate energy content, highly digestible proteins of good nutritional quality, unsaturated lipids (mainly found in the skin and easily removed), B-group vitamins (mainly thiamin, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid), and minerals (like iron, zinc, and copper). Consumption of poultry meat as a part of a rich vegetarian diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disorders, type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity. The relevance of poultry meat in human diet has also been recognised by the FAO (UN Food & Agricultural organization). The FAO considers poultry meat as widely available, relatively inexpensive and of particular importance in developing countries that experience shortfalls in available nutrient contents due to food shortage or poor quality of foodstuff. Research conducted worldwide has proven that poultry meat consumption improves the overall quality of the diet, especially of those diets rationed for specific physiological stages like prior to conception, during pregnancy & breastfeeding, in geriatric age etc. It is the ideal food for people with a need for high caloric and protein diet (body builders, athletes etc).

Majority of the population in the world depend on cereal grains as their staple food. For instance, several countries have maize (corn) as their staple food. Maize is highly deficient in niacin & its consumption without niacin supplementation would lead to pellagra. Supplementing maize with chicken meat would balance the diet by countering the deficits. Invariable almost all cereal grains are deficient in one essential amino acid or the other which makes it imperative to include meat in a cereal based diet.

Nutrient Composition of Broiler meat

Mineral composition in Broiler meat (Stadelman et al., 1988)

Minerals mg/100g of edible meat portion
Calcium 11.00
Iron 0.90
Magnesium 20.00
Phosphorus 147.00
Potassium 189.00
Sodium 70.00
Zinc 1.31
Manganese 0.02
Copper 0.48

Vitamin Composition in Broiler meat (Stadelman et al., 1988)

Vitamins per 100g edible meat portion
Vitamin A IU 41
Vitamin C mg 1.60
Vitamin B1 mg 0.06
Vitamin B2 mg 0.12
Niacin mg 6.80
Pantothenic acid mg 0.91
Vitamin B6 mg 0.35
Folic acid µg 6.00
Vitamin B12 µg 0.31

Protein composition in poultry meat

The gross protein content in poultry meat is about 18.60g/100g of edible portion.

Amino Acid composition of Broiler meat (Mountney and Pankhurst, 1995)

Amino Acid % of protein
Arginine 6.7
Cysteine 1.8
Histidine 2.0
Isoleucine 4.1
Leucine 6.6
Lysine 7.5
Methionine 1.8
Phenylalanine 4.0
Threonine 4.0
Tryptophan 0.8
Tyrosine 2.5
Valine 6.7

The protein component in poultry meat is defined as ‘high quality’. Protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) is a method of evaluating the quality of a protein based on both the amino acid requirements of humans and their ability to digest it. Animal-derived foods have a Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) value equivalent to or slightly below one. Conversely, plant-based foods have a less favorable protein profile as they generally lack in one or more essential amino acids and are more difficult to digest. Thus, they have a substantially lower PDCAAS value (e.g. 0.75 for beans and 0.5 for wheat) when compared to meat.

Lipid composition of Broiler meat (Stadelman et al., 1988)

Lipids g/100g of edible meat portion
Saturated Fat 4.50
Monounsaturated Fat 6.73
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.16
PUFA/Saturated Fat ratio 0.28
Cholesterol 0.075

Poultry meat quality attributes

Quality is a relative term for instance, a seller will view the quality of product in terms of what attracts the buyers and how much people are willing to pay for it. A nutritionist on the other hand would measure quality of the meat based on its nutrient content. It is however he consumer’s perspective of quality that matters. Appearance is the key to initial consumer selection followed by texture as the second most important sensory characteristic that affects the consumers’ final assessment. Meat colour, skin colour of meat, pinkness of cooked meat and appearance defects like bruises and haemorrhages affect the consumers’ assessment of quality meat. For poultry meat to meet the consumer’s expectation, it is imperative to follow and maintain proper management conditions at every stage of the bird’s development, from fertilized egg through production and processing to consumption.


Freshness is the key to maintain/retain quality of meat. When compared with other animals reared for meat, chicken meat would always be fresh meat owing to its low body weight (less meat) promoting quicker consumption. On the other hand goat produces more meat which promotes storage of excess meat thereby losing its freshness. For this reason poultry meat is an important part of quality nutrition. For a consumer, quality meat is basically the presence of all desired characteristics acceptable for consumption. It is also rich in essential amino acids and has less saturated fats. Besides the meat, the organs of chicken are also rich in minerals and vitamins. Poultry meat has thus gained an important position in a balanced diet, both because of its nutrient quality and comparatively cheap source of  animal protein.


POULTRY PUNCH incorporated in 1984 and we are in poultry media since last 36 years and publish Poultry punch – English Monthly Magazine. Mr Balwant Singh Rana prior to laying the foundation of Poultry Punch magazine was still involved with renowned Indian poultry companies and It was there that he had the vision of doing something exceptional for the Indian poultry industry and then he stepped into the poultry media.

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