Chicken breast is one of the most popular cuts of poultry to cook with in the U.S. We use it in tons of classic favorites – from fried chicken to chicken tikka masala, chicken breast is always a vital part of the American menu.
Often times, chicken breast is seen as healthy, cheap, lean and a good source of protein, however, thanks to factory farming and industrial scaling of chicken production, that concept has changed in a lot of meat.
Unlike the truly lean chicken breasts pictured above, many of the chicken breasts you buy in stores nowadays contain thick white stripes. Those white stripes are actual fat that has accumulated in the chicken as a result of disease that many factory chickens now have.
According to a study published last year in the Journal of Poultry Science, this white striping effect has harmful effects on the quality of the chicken meat. These negative effects include water holding capacity, meaning that chicken can’t taken on marinades as well and will shrivel up more during cooking.
The disease known as myopathy results when fat infiltrates degenerating muscle fibers. Basically, chickens lose muscle/the ability to stand or move as they gets replaced with fat.
The white stripes also mean a lot more fat accumulates in the chicken, leading to an almost tripling of fat content from 7% of calories to 21% of calories, according to a study published in the Italian Journal of Animal Science. So not only is the quality of the chicken getting worse – it’s also getting much more fatty and nutritionally harmful.
Since this happens most with factory-raised chickens, if you want to avoid this elevated fat content, stick with naturally raised chickens (as a safe bet, Jidori chicken is one of the best breeds you can purchase in the market).
Unfortunately, factory-farmed poultry tends to dominate the market, but at least the white striping is a clear indicator of the chicken breast’s nutritional quality. If you want to avoid the high amount of fat, steer clear of white-striped chicken breasts.