Chicken hearts are a nutritious choice, despite being uncommonly eaten. They contain vital vitamins and minerals, benefiting heart health, providing iron and zinc, and being low in calories and fat. Their versatility in cooking adds to their nutrient density.
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1. High in Vitamin B12
One of the notable nutrients found in chicken hearts is Vitamin B12. This essential micronutrient plays a pivotal role in numerous bodily functions, including DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, and nerve health. A 3.5-ounce serving of cooked chicken hearts provides an astounding 304% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin B12.
According to the National Institutes of Health, Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and neurological changes such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. By including chicken hearts in your diet, you can ensure you’re getting an ample amount of this vital vitamin.
2. Rich in Zinc
Zinc is another essential mineral you’ll find abundantly in chicken hearts. A single serving contains 66% of the recommended daily value. This micronutrient plays a crucial role in cell growth, wound healing, and blood sugar management. Zinc deficiency can result in impaired immune function, hair loss, diarrhea, and delayed sexual maturation. Hence, incorporating zinc-rich foods like chicken hearts into your diet is a great way to meet your body’s zinc needs.
3. Good for Heart Health
Chicken hearts are a rich source of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a compound that helps generate energy in your cells. CoQ10 has been linked to improved heart health and is often used as a supplement to treat heart conditions. Moreover, they contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to support cardiovascular health by reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the risk of heart disease.4
4. Source of Iron
Chicken hearts are rich in iron, providing 50% of the recommended daily intake. This mineral is essential for producing healthy red blood cells and transporting oxygen in the body. Iron deficiency is a widespread nutritional issue affecting around 1.6 billion people worldwide, causing anemia, fatigue, and weakened immunity. Adding iron-rich foods like chicken hearts to your diet can prevent deficiencies.
5. Low in Calories and Fat
Despite their nutrient density, chicken hearts are relatively low in calories and fat. A 3.5-ounce serving contains just 185 calories and 8 grams of fat. This makes them an excellent choice for those seeking to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight. Furthermore, the fat in chicken hearts is primarily unsaturated fat, which is considered heart-healthy. Unsaturated fats can help reduce levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and increase “good” HDL cholesterol, further supporting heart health.
6. Nutrient Dense
Chicken hearts are a nutrient-dense food, meaning they’re packed with a wide array of essential nutrients relative to their calorie content. In addition to the nutrients already discussed, chicken hearts also provide substantial amounts of riboflavin, copper, pantothenic acid, folate, Vitamin B6, niacin, phosphorus, and selenium. The presence of these multiple nutrients makes chicken hearts a well-rounded food choice that can contribute to overall health and wellness when included as part of a balanced diet.
7. Versatile in Cooking
Apart from their nutritional benefits, chicken hearts are also versatile and easy to prepare. Their unique texture and flavor lend themselves well to various cooking methods and cuisines. They can be grilled, sautéed, stewed, or even incorporated into dishes like stir-fries and casseroles. Whether you’re an experienced home cook or a beginner in the kitchen, there’s a multitude of ways to enjoy this nutritious organ meat.