Animal Nutrition

Nutrients, Benefits, Downsides, and More

Although chicken hearts may not be as popular as other types of meat, they can be a nutritious and flavorful addition to your diet.

With their chewy texture and sweet, slightly metallic flavor, chicken hearts are also versatile and easy to prepare.

Additionally, they’re rich in several key nutrients and may be linked to several health benefits.

This article discusses the potential benefits and downsides of chicken hearts, along with some simple ways to cook and enjoy them at home.

Chicken hearts are highly nutritious and provide a good amount of protein, zinc, copper, iron, and B vitamins in each serving.

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of cooked chicken heart contains the following nutrients (1):

  • Calories: 185
  • Protein: 26 grams
  • Fat: 8 grams
  • Carbs: 0.1 grams
  • Vitamin B12: 304{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Zinc: 66{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} of the DV
  • Riboflavin: 57{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} of the DV
  • Copper: 56{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} of the DV
  • Pantothenic acid: 53{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} of the DV
  • Iron: 50{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} of the DV
  • Folate: 20{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 19{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} of the DV
  • Niacin: 18{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 16{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} of the DV
  • Selenium: 15{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} of the DV

Chicken hearts are especially rich in vitamin B12, an essential micronutrient involved in DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, and nerve health (2, 3).

They’re also high in zinc, which is necessary for cell growth, wound healing, and blood sugar management (4).

Plus, they can boost your intake of riboflavin, a water-soluble B-vitamin that’s crucial for growth, development, and energy metabolism (5).

summary

Chicken hearts are low in calories and high in protein and many essential micronutrients, including zinc, iron, and B vitamins.

Chicken hearts may be linked to several potential health benefits.

Good source of protein

Chicken hearts are an excellent source of protein, boasting 26 grams in each 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving (1).

Protein is necessary for many aspects of health, including making and maintaining muscle mass, immune function, and growth (6).

Some research also suggests that increasing your protein intake could help regulate your appetite, reduce food cravings, and enhance feelings of fullness, which could be beneficial for weight loss (7).

Plus, high protein foods like chicken hearts can also increase muscle growth and strength when paired with resistance training (8, 9).

Rich in iron

Chicken hearts are jam-packed with iron, and a single serving can significantly boost your intake of this mineral.

Iron is not only essential for oxygen transport and DNA synthesis but also important for the production of healthy red blood cells (10).

Additionally, it’s estimated that around 1.6 billion people around the globe are deficient in iron, making it the most common nutritional deficiency in the world.

While iron deficiency is more prevalent in developing parts of the world, it affects 10{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} of toddlers, young girls, and women of childbearing age in the United States and Canada (11).

This can cause a wide range of symptoms, including weakness, fatigue, impaired immunity, and digestive issues (11).

Enjoying a variety of foods that are rich in iron, including chicken hearts, is one of the best ways to ensure you’re meeting your needs to protect against iron deficiency.

Fights food waste

Chicken hearts can be a sustainable, affordable, and eco-friendly addition to a healthy diet.

What’s more, adding chicken hearts to your diet is a great way to reduce food waste and minimize your environmental impact.

This is because eating all parts of the animal, including less popular cuts of meat or organ meats, can help ensure that nothing goes to waste.

This is based on a philosophy called nose-to-tail eating, which promotes eating every part of the animal to support sustainability.

summary

Chicken hearts are high in protein and important nutrients like iron. Adding chicken hearts to your diet can also help fight food waste by using every part of the animal.

Although chicken hearts can be a healthy and nutritious addition to the diet for most healthy adults, people with gout may need to moderate their intake.

This is because chicken hearts are high in purines, a compound found naturally in many foods, including organ meats.

When your body breaks down purines, it can increase levels of uric acid, which can accumulate in your joints and cause a gout flare-up (12).

For this reason, people with gout are sometimes advised to follow a low purine diet and limit their intake of foods like chicken hearts (13).

Many people are also concerned about the amount of cholesterol found in organ meats like chicken hearts, citing concerns about its potential impact on heart health.

Although chicken hearts contain 242 mg of cholesterol per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, research generally shows that dietary cholesterol is not associated with a higher risk of heart disease or stroke (1, 14).

Furthermore, it’s important to keep in mind that the liver produces about 75{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} of the cholesterol in the body, and only 25{c93c05115eae7b2853c4a44517667f24b04dafe21463d3cb653b86ff5269b0fa} is derived from food (15).

Therefore, when you eat foods high in cholesterol, your body can adjust the amount of cholesterol it produces to keep your blood cholesterol levels in check (16).

That said, people who have high blood cholesterol levels and are sensitive to dietary cholesterol may want to limit their intake of chicken hearts and other high cholesterol foods.

summary

People with gout may need to limit their intake of foods high in purine, including chicken hearts. Additionally, although chicken hearts are high in cholesterol, they’re unlikely to increase your heart disease or stroke risk.

Chicken hearts are available at many specialty stores and butcher shops.

They’re often packaged with other organ meats, such as gizzards, which are a muscle found in the stomach of chickens.

There are several ways to prepare chicken hearts, but one of the most popular methods is to panfry them.

To get started, simply toss chicken hearts with a bit of olive oil and your favorite seasonings, such as garlic powder, pepper, cumin, chili flakes, or sea salt.

Next, add them to a pan and cook them over medium-high heat for 5–10 minutes, or until they’re fully cooked and no longer pink in the middle.

Finally, serve them alongside your choice of veggies, such as mushrooms, onions, potatoes, or carrots, and enjoy.

summary

Chicken hearts are straightforward to prepare and can be seasoned, panfried, and paired with your favorite vegetables for a simple, quick, and healthy meal.

Chicken hearts are rich in several nutrients, including protein, zinc, iron, and B vitamins.

Eating organ meats like chicken hearts can also be a great way to promote sustainability and fight food waste.

Best of all, they’re easy to prepare at home and can be a flavorful addition to a well-rounded diet.