How Chicken Is Good for Diabetes: A Healthy Choice for Managing Blood Sugar

Reviewed by dietition Dt. SEEMA GOEL (Senior Dietitian) October 4, 2023

Diet plays a pivotal role in controlling blood sugar levels when it comes to managing diabetes. For individuals with diabetes, making informed food choices is essential to keep glucose levels stable and maintain overall health. One food that often raises questions in this context is chicken for diabetes. Is chicken safe and beneficial for diabetes management? Can individuals with diabetes enjoy chicken without worrying about their blood sugar?

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the relationship between chicken and diabetes, shedding light on why chicken is considered a healthy choice for those with this condition.

Understanding Chicken For Diabetes And Dietary Choices

Before we dive into the specifics of why chicken can be a valuable addition to a diabetes-friendly diet, let’s briefly recap what diabetes is and why diet matters in its management.

Diabetes is a long-term medical disorder defined by high blood glucose (sugar) levels. This happens when the body either produces insufficient amounts of the hormone insulin, which controls blood sugar, or when it uses insulin inefficiently. Diabetes that is not under control can cause a number of health issues, including heart disease, renal issues, and nerve damage.

Diet is a critical component of diabetes management because the foods we eat directly impact blood sugar levels. Monitoring carbohydrate intake, choosing low-glycemic foods, and maintaining a balanced diet are key strategies for keeping blood glucose in check. While carbohydrates are a primary focus, the type and quality of protein sources, like chicken, also play a significant role.

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Chicken For Diabetes

Chicken is often hailed as a diabetes-friendly protein source and for several good reasons. Let’s delve into why chicken is considered a valuable addition to the diets of individuals with diabetes.

Lean Protein Content

Chicken is renowned for being a lean source of protein. In fact, it’s one of the leanest animal proteins available. Skinless, boneless chicken breast is particularly low in saturated fats and a healthier option compared to fatty cuts of meat or processed meats. The American Diabetes Association recommends including lean protein sources like chicken for diabetes diets to help manage blood sugar levels.

Statistics: According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), skinless, boneless chicken breast contains just 165 calories, 31 grams of protein, and 3.6 grams of total fat per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving.

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Chicken For Diabetes: Low in Carbohydrates

Carbohydrate consumption is a crucial consideration for people with diabetes, as carbohydrates have the most significant impact on blood sugar levels. Chicken is naturally low in carbohydrates, making it an excellent choice for those aiming to control their carb intake. This means that individuals with diabetes can enjoy chicken without worrying about substantial spikes in blood sugar.

Statistics: A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of cooked, skinless, boneless chicken breast contains less than 1 gram of carbohydrates, according to the USDA’s National Nutrient Database.

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Rich in Essential Nutrients

In addition to being a great source of protein, chicken provides essential nutrients that are beneficial for overall health. These nutrients include vitamin B6, which is important for nerve function, and niacin, which supports heart health. Incorporating chicken into a diabetes diet can help individuals meet their nutritional needs while keeping their blood sugar in check.

Statistics: A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of chicken breast provides approximately 33% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B6, according to the USDA.

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Chicken In Diabetes: Preparation Matters

While the chicken in diabetes itself is considered healthy, it’s essential to pay attention to how it’s prepared and cooked. Certain cooking methods can add extra calories and unhealthy fats, which may counteract the benefits of chicken for diabetes. Here are some tips for healthy chicken preparation:

Skinless, Boneless Cuts

Opt for skinless, boneless chicken cuts to reduce saturated fat content. Chicken skin contains a significant amount of saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol levels. Removing the skin before cooking helps keep chicken a lean protein source.

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Grilling or Baking

Grilling or baking chicken is a healthier cooking method compared to frying. These methods require little to no added fats and help retain the chicken’s natural flavours. Plus, grilling or baking allows excess fat to drip away, resulting in a lower-fat meal and we can safely say that this preparation of chicken is good for diabetes.

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Seasoning and Marinades

Use herbs, spices, and marinades to flavour your chicken without adding excessive salt or sugar. Opt for homemade marinades with ingredients like olive oil, garlic, and herbs, which can enhance the taste without compromising your diabetes management.

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Chicken Recipes for Diabetes or Chicken Dishes For Diabetics

Chicken Dishes For Diabetics

Now that we’ve established why chicken for diabetes patients results in friendly protein into your diet, let’s explore some delicious and nutritious chicken recipes:

1. Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken


  • Skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Fresh herbs (e.g., rosemary, thyme, oregano)
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil


  • Mix lemon juice, herbs, minced garlic, and a touch of olive oil to create a marinade.
  • Marinate all the chicken breasts for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • Grill until fully cooked, with a slightly charred exterior for added flavour.

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2. Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry


  • Skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breast, should be thinly sliced
  • Assorted colourful vegetables (e.g., bell peppers, broccoli, carrots)
  • Low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • Fresh ginger and garlic
  • Olive oil


  • Stir-fry chicken until cooked through, then set aside.
  • In the same pan, stir-fry vegetables with minced ginger and garlic.
  • Add cooked chicken back to the pan, drizzle with low-sodium soy sauce or tamari, and toss until well combined.

Read More: Top 6 Dry Fruits For Diabetics.

3. Mediterranean Chicken Salad


  • Grilled or roasted chicken breast, diced
  • Fresh mixed greens (e.g., spinach, arugula, romaine)
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Kalamata olives
  • Feta cheese (use in moderation)


  • Assemble the salad with the diced chicken and a variety of fresh vegetables.
  • Top with a light vinaigrette dressing made from olive oil, vinegar, and herbs.

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Chicken is Good for Diabetes: A Delicious and Nutritious Choice

The relationship between diet and diabetes management is a subject of great importance and interest, and one particular protein source that deserves attention in this context is chicken. The question at the forefront of many minds is, “Is chicken good for diabetes?” The unequivocal answer is yes, and this isn’t just an opinion; it’s a statement supported by a wealth of scientific evidence and nutritional benefits. In this opinionated piece, we will explore why chicken is not only a safe but also an excellent choice for individuals with diabetes.

Debunking Misconceptions

Before we delve into the myriad reasons why chicken is a superb option for those managing diabetes, let’s confront some misconceptions that have created unwarranted doubt.

Misconception 1: Chicken Raises Blood Sugar Levels

One common myth is that consuming chicken can lead to elevated blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. This misconception likely arises from the belief that protein can have a significant impact on insulin responses. However, research consistently demonstrates that chicken, especially lean cuts like skinless, boneless breasts, has an inconsequential effect on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates, not protein, are the primary drivers of post-meal glucose fluctuations. Thus, chicken is good for diabetes.

Statistics: According to the American Diabetes Association, chicken is a protein source that can help stabilize blood sugar levels, preventing sharp post-meal spikes.

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Misconception 2: Chicken Is High in Unhealthy Fats

There is concern that chicken might be laden with unhealthy saturated fats. Thus meaning that chicken and diabetes could be detrimental to heart health. This is a vital consideration for individuals with diabetes, who are at more risks of cardiovascular problems. However, the key to mitigating this concern is opting for skinless, boneless chicken cuts, which significantly reduce saturated fat content.

Statistics: Data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reaffirms that skinless, boneless chicken breast is indeed low in saturated fat, making it a heart-healthy choice.

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The Science Behind Chicken and Diabetes

Now, let’s delve into the scientific evidence that makes a compelling case for chicken as a standout protein option for individuals managing diabetes.

Nutritional Benefits of Chicken for Diabetes

  1. Rich in Essential Vitamins and Minerals: Chicken is a nutrient powerhouse, providing essential vitamins and minerals vital for overall health and diabetes management:
  2. Vitamin B6: Chicken is a good source of vitamin B6, which supports nerve function and aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
  3. Niacin (Vitamin B3): Niacin, found in chicken, plays a role in maintaining healthy skin, nerves, and the digestive system. Thus, chicken is good for diabetes.
  4. Selenium: Chicken is a rich source of selenium, an antioxidant mineral that helps protect cells from damage and supports a healthy immune system.

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High-Quality Protein

Chicken is celebrated for being a high-quality protein source. It delivers all the essential amino acids required by the body for critical functions like muscle maintenance and immune system support. This characteristic positions it as an ideal choice for individuals with diabetes and diabetes patient can eat chicken. This is because the protein can aid in regulating blood sugar levels while fostering a sense of fullness that reduces the risk of overconsumption and weight gain.

Statistics: A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition underscores the advantages of integrating lean poultry, such as chicken, into a diabetes-conscious diet, improving glycemic control and promoting overall well-being.

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Absence of Rapidly Digestible Carbs

The Glycemic Index considers the type of carbohydrates in a food item, as well as the rate at which they are digested and absorbed. Chicken contains virtually no rapidly digestible carbohydrates, which are the ones that cause quick spikes in blood sugar. This lack of rapidly digestible carbs results in a GI of zero for chicken.

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Comparing Chicken’s GI to Other Foods

To put chicken’s GI of zero into perspective, let’s compare it to the GI values of some other common foods:

  • White Bread: White bread typically has a high GI, often exceeding 70. This means it causes a rapid increase in blood sugar levels after consumption.
  • Brown Rice: Brown rice has a moderate GI, usually around 50. While it doesn’t spike blood sugar as quickly as white bread, it still has a notable impact. Whereas, even sugar patient can eat chicken.
  • Potatoes: Potatoes, especially when boiled or mashed, can have a high GI, sometimes surpassing 80. They are known to cause significant blood sugar spikes.
  • Chickpeas: Chickpeas have a lower GI compared to potatoes and white bread, usually around 30-40, depending on how they’re prepared. This moderate GI makes them a better choice for blood sugar control.

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Glycemic Index Considerations: Why Chicken Is Good for Diabetes?

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a crucial concept in diabetes management that measures how quickly carbohydrates in foods are converted into glucose and enter the bloodstream. Understanding the GI of different foods is essential for individuals with diabetes, as it helps them make informed choices that can impact their blood sugar levels. When it comes to GI, chicken stands out as an exceptional option for individuals with diabetes which means, chicken is good for diabetes.

In this section, we’ll delve into the concept of the Glycemic Index and explain why chicken, despite being low in carbohydrates, has a GI of zero, making it an ideal choice for those actively managing their carbohydrate intake.

Read More: What are the Glycemic Index and ways to calculate the Gi Value of Food Items?

How Does the Glycemic Index Relate to Chicken?

Chicken is unique in the sense that it has a GI of zero. This means that despite containing small amounts of carbohydrates, the carbohydrates in chicken do not cause a significant spike in blood sugar levels when consumed. Here’s why chicken and diabetes has a GI of zero and how this relates to diabetes management:

Read More: Best Vegetable with Low Glycemic Index for Diabetics.

How Chicken Helps In Diabetes Management

How Chicken Helps in Diabetes Management

Given its GI of zero and low carbohydrate content, chicken is an excellent choice for individuals with diabetes who are actively managing their carbohydrate intake. Here are some key reasons why:

  • Stable Blood Sugar: Chicken’s minimal impact on blood sugar levels helps individuals with diabetes maintain stable glucose control.
  • Protein Power: Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein, which can aid in regulating blood sugar, promoting fullness, and supporting muscle health.
  • Versatility: Chicken’s versatility in cooking allows for a wide range of delicious, diabetes-friendly meal options.

Low Carbohydrate Profile

Dietary carbohydrate intake is of paramount importance in diabetes management, given its substantial influence on blood sugar levels. Chicken boasts a naturally low carbohydrate profile, rendering it a perfect protein selection for individuals who must be vigilant about their carbohydrate intake.

Statistics: As per the USDA’s National Nutrient Database, skinless, boneless chicken breast contains less than 1 gram of carbohydrates per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving.

In the ongoing discourse regarding whether chicken is beneficial for diabetes, the resounding answer is that it most certainly is. The scientific evidence firmly establishes chicken as a diabetes-friendly protein choice, offering an array of benefits, including blood sugar stability, support for weight management, and the provision of essential nutrients crucial for overall health.

In the pursuit of effective diabetes management, it is crucial to base dietary decisions on evidence-backed choices rather than unfounded scepticism or misconceptions. The inclusion of chicken in a well-balanced, diabetes-conscious diet can contribute significantly to better glycemic control and an enhanced sense of well-being.

Statistics: A comprehensive review featured in the journal Diabetes Care unequivocally affirms that lean protein sources like chicken for diabetes patients can be a highly effective component of healthy diets, assisting in blood sugar regulation and diminishing the risk of complications.

In summary, it’s not a matter of mere opinion but one grounded in concrete scientific research: chicken is an exceptional choice for individuals managing diabetes, and it should undoubtedly have a prominent place on their plates.

 Read More: 16 Best Fruits Juice For Diabetes.

Chicken and Diabetes: Final Thoughts

Incorporating chicken into a diabetes diet can be a smart and delicious choice. Its lean protein content, low carbohydrate profile, and essential nutrients make it an ideal protein source for individuals looking to manage their blood sugar levels effectively. However, as with any dietary choice, moderation and mindful preparation are key.

Remember to consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian for personalized dietary recommendations tailored to your specific needs and health status. Diabetes management is a complex journey, and professional guidance ensures that your diet aligns with your overall health goals and blood sugar targets.

By making informed food choices, such as including chicken in your meals, you can take positive steps toward better diabetes management and improved overall well-being.

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Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


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