26 - 2010

Eat Fatty, Inhumanely Raised Chicken To Stop Cancer?

This is just painful. One of the nation’s large fast-food chains, which makes a living from helping people stay addicted to food that tastes good, yes, but is unfortunately loaded with fat, sodium and chemicals, and certainly doesn’t follow any of the food rules, has launched a huge campaign: For every bucket of fried chicken purchased through May 23, the chain will donate 50 cents to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which raises funds to conduct research to eradicate breast cancer.

It’s not that anyone wants to support breast cancer. It’s just that spending $15 on food that is in no way good for you so that the company will give half a dollar to researching a cure seems counterproductive.

What’s wrong with this promotion?

An article about the promotion on ABC News’s website, which includes the gross subhead “eat a breast to save a breast,” quotes the pros:

According to medical experts, there is an established connection between eating fatty, high caloric food and the risk for breast cancer.

“The number one most important guideline for cancer prevention is to maintain a healthy weight,” says Cheryl Rock, who researches the connection between diet and breast cancer at University of California, San Diego. Because of this link, Brenner says Komen’s campaign may “undercut the cause.”

Not to mention that fatty fried foods can increase heart disease risk by raising cholesterol, adding excessive fat and providing way too much sodium. Breast cancer killed 40,000 U.S. women last year. But in 2006, cardiovascular disease (heart disease) killed nearly 433,000 U.S. women.

Just how unhealthy is fried chicken?

I’m not a KFC fan, myself — I remember thinking it seemed delish when I was a kid, but underneath the crust there would be a layer of mushy white fat. But one of my pregnancy cravings was fried chicken, and so I’ve hit up Popeye’s a time or two. If you want to know the nutritional content of KFC foods versus that of Popeye’s, click those links. Here’s a primer:

KFC spicy crispy (note they do not call it “fried”) chicken breast – ONE PIECE: 420 calories and 25 grams of fat (220 calories); 5 grams saturated fat. 0 grams trans fat. 110 milligrams cholesterol (more than 1/3 of the recommended daily intake for most people). 1,250 mg sodium (more than 50% of the typical recommended daily limit of 2,400 mg). But 38 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber!

Popeye’s spicy chicken breast – ONE PIECE: 360 calories and 22 grams of fat (190 calories); 8 grams saturated fat. 0.5 grams trans fat. 170 milligrams cholesterol (more than HALF the recommended daily intake). 760 mg sodium (almost 1/3 the RDA). 31 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber.

Eww, eww, eww.

As for how the chicken are treated … PETA has always had a beef — er, chicken? — with KFC because of how its poultry are raised, but the activist group is even more irked now that KFC has launched the “Double-Down,” a “sandwich” that is made of two chunks of fried chicken with bacon, mayo and cheese between them.  (Arguably, though, the “breading,” is bread enough, especially when you take into account the “the whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead” rule and the pasty-white state of fast-food bread.)

What can you do?

If you MUST have fried chicken, the best bet might be to follow Pollan’s rule about making it yourself — and remove the skin before battering and frying it. You won’t come out ahead on calories, but check out the rest of the details, according to Fitday.com:

Homemade fried chicken breast – ONE PIECE: 409 calories and 17 grams of fat (153 calories and 32 percent less than KFC’s); 4 grams saturated fat. 115 milligrams cholesterol (still 1/3 of the recommended daily intake). 477 mg sodium (20% of the RDA, or use less salt to lower it). 44 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber.

If you make it at home, you can choose organic chicken, and you could serve it up with a crispy slaw (without the weird mayo dressing), skip the biscuits and have fruit for dessert, which would make it OK for an occasional indulgence.

And if you want to help cancer research? Just send them the money you would have spent on that sorry chicken.

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