Choose chickpeas over chicken for a healthier life
WE were misled into believing that eating chicken is a healthy protein choice. It is certainly better than consuming red meat, but that does not mean that its consumption is beneficial.
An abundance of nutritional science demonstrates that we can make better choices for our health. One of the main reasons people think chicken is healthy is because it has less saturated fat than red meat. This type of fat raises blood cholesterol levels, the main risk factor for heart disease.
However, when this theory was put to the test, studies like the one published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that white meat and red meat are equally bad, raising blood cholesterol levels to a similar degree.
Replacing chicken with vegetable protein sources such as chickpeas actually lowers blood cholesterol levels. Vegans, who eat no animal foods, have the lowest cholesterol of any diet, and research has shown that removing meat from the diet can be as effective as drugs in lowering cholesterol. cholesterol level.
Similarly, studies have shown that eating chicken can lead to high blood pressure, increase the risk of developing heart attacks and strokes, and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, in part due to high blood pressure. excessive weight. It is important to note that replacing chicken with plant proteins such as chickpeas can significantly reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, kidney failure and the risk of premature death.
Red meat is generally considered a risk factor for developing cancer, while eating chicken has been linked to an increased risk of developing lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. But those who avoid eating chicken have a lower risk of blood and lymphatic cancer, and people who exclude meat from their diet have a lower risk of cancer overall.
The wider consequences for the planet of eating chicken also cannot be ignored. We are in the midst of a climate crisis. Broiled chickens make up 70% of all birds on Earth. Raising these animals not only means squeezing the animals into a living space – thus decimating wildlife – but it also produces excess nitrogen, which turns into ammonia and nitrates, burning the fragile cells of terrestrial plants and poisoning the soil. and the surrounding waters.
In contrast, growing legumes such as chickpeas not only replenish soil health as they fix nitrogen in their root nodules, but they also have a much lower impact on the environment, generating fewer carbon emissions. greenhouse gases and using fewer land and water resources. If we were all to switch to plant-based diets, we could free up 75% of agricultural land and reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60%.
Antibiotic-resistant infections led to almost 1.3 million deaths worldwide in 2019. One of the main causes of these infections is the widespread use of antibiotics in animal husbandry, including poultry farming. Globally, more than 70% of the antibiotics produced are used in animal husbandry. Poultry is one of the fastest growing livestock sectors and one of the most common sources of multi-resistant bacteria. A key part of the solution is to reduce our consumption of animals, switching to healthier plant-based protein sources, including chickpeas.
While we are still in the midst of this pandemic, preventing the next one is of paramount importance. Unless we address the fact that three out of four new and emerging infectious threats come from farming animals and destroying their habitats, we cannot return to “normal life”.
Intensive poultry farming continues to generate new influenza viruses capable of infecting humans. There have been 96 bird flu outbreaks since October 27, 2021, with new outbreaks constantly being reported and resulting in the culling of thousands of chickens.
We must not forget the harm we cause to our sentient animal companions. About 60 billion chickens are raised each year for food. The majority of them are raised on factory farms and kept in miserable conditions causing painful heart, skin, lung and bone problems, as well as disease. Before slaughter, factory-fed chickens live an average of 42 days. In the wild, they can live for several years. Due to the increased growth rate and shortened lifespan, chickens may appear adult on supermarket shelves, even though they are still chicks. Chickens also like dust baths to prevent disease and eliminate parasites, but factory chickens cannot do this and are therefore often in poor condition.
We should strive to support each other to make the best possible choices. When it comes to diet, replacing chicken with chickpeas is not only better for our health, but also for the planet and animals. – The Independent
Dr Shireen Kassam is the founder of Plant Based Health Professionals and is a consultant hematologist.