This article is the answer to a question I’ve been asked many times – “But isn’t chicken full of PUFA?” So along with the answer, you also get a recipe for Baked Chicken Breast – so can you guess what my answer is going to be?!
One of the great things about Ray’s philosophy is that he wants you to think for yourself. Read the information, maybe do a little more reading on it from other sources, maybe test it out for yourself and see if it works. Maybe make a little tweak to the information so it suits you better.
Let’s think about it a bit…
Somewhere along the line he may have mentioned that chicken has PUFA and so everyone has repeated that now and follows along without much thought. But he wants you to think though, so let’s do that.
PUFAs are polyunsaturated fats. Just for those who don’t know. Read more about them here and why we are trying to avoid them in a Peaty diet.
Are all parts of the chicken fatty?
No. No they’re not. The legs, thighs, skin, wings are far more fatty than chicken breast. Which is why dieters and body builders used to do the ‘chicken and broccoli’ thing to keep weight off.
How much fat is in 1 cup of chicken breast?
Approximately 4g fat which is comprised of the following…
50% saturated fat
25% monosaturated fat
25% polyunsaturated fat
So when it comes to chicken breast in particular, high PUFA content is a myth.
For approx 30g of protein in this cup measure, it’s a pretty valuable low fat source of protein.
If you are talking about the other parts of the chicken, then yes it’s higher in fat and higher in polyunsaturated fat. So this is where detail and context is important.
Now is fat the only consideration when it comes to whether or not we should be eating chicken?
No it’s not.
Quality of the chicken is important.
Where it’s from, how it’s fed – grass or grain fed. How it’s processed – with chemicals or not. Added hormones?
The other factor too that Ray talks about is the dangers of only eating muscle meats.
It’s high in the mineral phosphorus. Which is why we have dairy in our diet to balance this out with calcium.
It’s also high in amino acids tryptophan, methionine, and cysteine. Which is why it’s recommended that the whole animal be eaten including the Gelatin from the bones to balance out the amino acids. But eating the whole animal in this case leads to higher unwanted total fat and more polyunsaturated fat than we would like.
The alternative is to make sure you have some gelatin with muscle meats to balance it instead. Also apparently eating tryptophan with enough carbs, along with Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6 and iron converts it to niacin in the body, which is pro metabolic.
So this is where knowing a bit about things really helps. Then you can have your low fat chicken and enjoy it too. (Not that I’m suggesting that you have it every day, but in your weekly protein choices along with the seafood, dairy and beef is fine.)
So here’s an easy Baked Chicken Breast recipe!
Baked Chicken Breast
- baking dish
- 2 chicken breasts
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- 2 tsp butter
- 2 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp salt/pepper
- Pre heat your oven to 220C (420 F) - yes we want it hot!
- Pull out an appropriate sized baking dish—mine is glass and approx. 20cm x 20cm (8 x 8 inches)
- Trim off any goobie bits off the chicken that you would rather not eat. (But otherwise it doesn’t need cutting up, just leave it whole.)
- Put the 2 tsp of coconut oil in the base of the dish. Place the chicken on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn it over and rub the oil into the chicken and salt and pepper the other side as well. (I use quite a bit of salt as I like it really salty.)
- Then put 1 tsp of butter on each chicken breast, then the sweet paprika on the top of each one. (Again I say 2 tsp of the paprika but I go a bit crazy with this too.)
- Place a sheet of foil over the top of the chicken and tuck in the edges. Then bake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, turn off the oven but leave the chicken in there for another 10 minutes as it keeps cooking for a while as the whole thing cools a little.
- Pull it out and slice to serve immediately when hot, dressing the chicken with some of the juices left behind in the dish.
- Allow remainder to cool, then refrigerate.
- Over the next 2-3 days either eat cold or may be reheated again.
- The additional fat—butter and coconut oil – is added to make the chicken tender and edible. Without the fat it becomes dry and yuk. This extra saturated fat helps to counter the minor amount of polyunsaturated fat in the chicken breast.
- Any of your favourite herbs can be used instead of sweet paprika, like the Cajun Spice we use for the fish (in the ZEN Beach Diet recipe) or you may prefer something like oregano or rosemary. All lovely.
- Foil – the foil goes on top as I don’t like the fat and juices of the chicken to splatter all over my nice oven. Also it allows the chicken to steam cook a bit too but the looseness of the foil allows some steam to escape so it ends up more roasted rather than boiled, which would happen if you had a firmer lid on it. Just enough moisture stays in to add to the tenderness of the final result.
- Servings – the recipe gives approximately 3 serves. Each serving is approximately Calories: 200 cal Protein: 30g Fat: 9g Carbs: 0g
It’s really important to have these easy to make protein options for a Ray Peat style diet to work, especially when you can’t have the full compliment of dairy for protein.
Happy easy cooking and no, baked chicken breast does NOT have too much PUFA!