15 Health Benefits of Eating Chicken Feet

By Simi
15 Health Benefits of Eating Chicken Feet

Eating chicken feet may sound unappealing to some but for Koreans, Chinese, Vietnamese and Filipinos, they are a culinary delicacy. South Africans, Jamaicans, Trinidadians and South Americans also include chicken feet in their diets. Even if you don’t regard chicken feet as a delicacy, you cannot ignore the fact that eating them offers many health benefits. They supply your body with calcium and other trace minerals, vitamins and collagen. The benefit of the collagen is top of the list.

Collagen is a structural protein, and it contributes to the integrity and function of multiple bodily systems. The human body contains 25 different types of collagen found all over the body, including in the bones, muscles, skin, tendons, digestive system and blood vessels. Collagen is what replaces dead skin cells and gives the skin its elasticity. As we age, collagen production decreases, and we start to develop sagging skin, wrinkles, fragile bones and aching joints. Chicken feet provide an excellent and cheap source of collagen and supplementing our diets with them helps to keep our bodies healthy.

When chicken feet are included in a bone broth, the nutrients are slowly pulled from the bones and cartilage, forming a nutritious liquid. Many other recipes use it for preparing chicken feet, giving them a gelatinous texture. They can have a chewy texture too, depending on whether they are fried, boiled or stewed.

Collagen is the word used for the substance found in the body. Gelatine is what you get when you cook the bones and tissue down to become digestible.  Bone broth, for instance, produces rubbery gelatin once it cools down. Whether you talk about collagen or gelatin, the health benefits are similar. 

1. Healthy, younger looking skin

The Dept. of Animal Science at National Chung-Hsing University in Taiwan conducted research that indicated generous amounts of collagen in chicken feet. Collagen maintains elasticity of the skin so when collagen production declines, sagging, dryness and wrinkles are the results.

Collagen supplements are expensive. Some of the collagen pills available at drugstores simply ground up chicken feet. It makes no sense to pay for these supplements when chicken feet are cheap and readily available as a good source of collagen. Some research shows that the collagen in a food source like a bone broth is absorbed more readily by the body than pills.

In studies investigating the anti-aging properties of collagen, women aged 35-55 using collagen once daily for eight weeks improved the elasticity of their skin, suffered less dryness, and their skin was smoother. Collagen appears to be one of the most effective, natural skin care ingredients.

The doctors of Chinese traditional medicine have said for hundreds of years that the skin mirrors what’s happening inside your body – especially what’s happening in your digestive system. Chronic digestive problems have the potential to cause various inflammatory skin issues. As collagen improves the health of the gut, it can also improve the appearance of your skin. Sometimes all the work of slathering creams and potions on the outside works less well than addressing your skin problems from the inside.

2. Stronger Bones

Your body continually reabsorbs old bone and creates new bone. Every ten years or so, your whole skeletal system gets replaced.  Your bones remain strong and healthy when there is a balance between the old bone and the new bone being created. Problems result when this balance no longer exists. With less formation of new bone and this means that more old bone gets reabsorbed.

As you grow older, the body reabsorbs calcium and phosphate from your bones, and they become more fragile. You need to eat enough foods high in these minerals to make new bone. Another issue that can cause fragile bones are when the body is getting enough calcium, but it is unable to absorb it. Collagen plays a role in helping the body to absorb calcium.

Eating chicken feet containing collagen can help reduce the risk of developing brittle bones. Many studies have shown collagen can stimulate the cells that create bone (osteoblasts) and help to maintain the healthy bone structure.

Chondroitin and glucosamine are two of the nutrients found in a chicken feet broth that support healthy bone. It also contains chondroitin sulfate which is good for osteoarthritis. Instead of buying expensive supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin, using chicken feet in a bowl of soup or broth offers a much cheaper option that can be very effective.

 3. Repairs joints’

Many elderly people look as though they find it painful to walk – this is often due to a lack of collagen which causes stiffness of the joints. Studies show that collagen can reduce joint pain and inflammation and even promote healing in some degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis. The amino acids contained in the collagen can play an essential role in the repair of cartilage in the joints.

The cartilage in the joints provides cushioning for the bones, and when it gets compromised, the bones rub together, causing pain and inflammation. Two of the substances in collagen that can help to build up the cartilage in the joints are chondroitin sulfates and glucosamine. These substances help the body to grow new cartilage and connective tissue.

Athletes often sustain repetitive strain injuries. They can take time to heal, and collagen has been found to work on repairing the tissue effectively. A study published in 2008 found that collagen improved the mobility of stiff joints and eased the pain in injured athletes. Athletes are impatient when it comes to dealing with injuries and often want to return to action sooner rather than later. A healing chicken broth made from chicken feet may be the answer to speed up healing.

Injecting Hyaluronic acid into knee joints acts as a temporary treatment for osteoarthritis. You can increase your hyaluronic acid intake by making a bone broth with chicken feet. It will also give you various minerals, proteins, and other compounds necessary for proper joint health.

4. Maintains healthy body weight

The collagen in chicken feet can help to maintain muscle mass and healthy body weight. Of course, this will only occur in conjunction with eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular exercise. Collagen is a natural protein that is carb free and, so it is ideal for including in a healthy diet. Collagen can also help to raise energy levels and boost metabolism.

Collagen has an unusual amino acid profile that helps to suppress appetite. This results in a decreased energy intake which in turn can result in weight loss. Eating chicken feet can provide a greater feeling of fullness than other protein types in the same quantity. One clinical trial found that collagen was 40% more filling than the same amount of casein, soy or whey.

Another study conducted on older women found that supplementing their diets with collagen helped them to retain their muscle mass and nitrogen balance. The amino acid called glycine in the collagen helps with the transfer of sugar to the tissue which boosts muscle development. Muscles burn far more calories than fat, and a higher muscle mass means the body burns calories faster.

Not many studies are available researching collagen and weight loss, but it makes sense that when appetite gets reduced, you feel full for longer and your metabolism increases, it should naturally be more comfortable to lose weight.

5. Reduces inflammation

Collagen is not only crucial for local inflammation, but it may minimize system levels of inflammation. This is more serious that localized inflammation because it results in tissue damage all over the body and contributes to many health conditions. Dysfunction of the thyroid is just one of the problems which can cause other issues such as fatigue and weight gain.

The gelatin in cooked chicken feet has excellent anti-inflammatory qualities. It helps to balance the amino acid (building blocks of proteins) intake. Standard Western diets tend to be high in muscle meats like beef, chicken, and lamb. Muscle meats contain high levels of certain amino acids. Gelatin includes two anti-inflammatory amino acids, arginine, and glycine that help to create a complete balance of proteins in the diet.

The amino acids in collagen include glycine, hydroxyproline, glutamic acid, proline, and alanine.  The high levels of glycine and proline get associated with many health benefits.  Your body can make these amino acids, so they are non-essential. However, when the liver is overstressed and undernourished, it is not able to manufacture all the non-essential amino acids in the amounts the body needs. The body is unable to detoxify properly, and inflammation can occur.

Inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis or eczema will benefit from more collagen in the diet as its anti-inflammatory amino acids may help to reduce the severity, frequency, and pain of flare-ups.

6. Improves blood circulation

Blood circulation is an essential function in the body because it’s necessary for supplying all parts of the body with oxygen and nutrients. Poor circulation can be caused by various factors such as lack of exercise, sitting in one place for too long, smoking and blood clots.

The arginine in collagen helps to produce nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a tiny molecule that can move in and between cells, and one of its essential functions is to cause the smooth muscle cells to relax.  These smooth muscle cells are found all over the body in the blood vessels. When the blood vessels relax, blood pressure drops and better circulation can take place. When more blood reaches the tissues, they are better nourished.

The collagen found in chicken feet also helps to strengthen the blood vessels. The proline found in the collagen protects their integrity and improves their elasticity. The proline helps the body to break down the proteins that are needed for building healthy cells.

Proline is important because it can prevent hardening of the arteries. This occurs when the arteries carrying oxygen and nutrients from the heart to the rest of the body become stiff and thick from the fact that builds up on the walls. Proline helps the walls to release this fat buildup into the bloodstream so that blockages decreases and the arteries can expand and contract properly.

7. Accelerates healing of wounds

Collagen appears to play a vital role in all the phase of healing wounds, including helping to reduce the associated inflammation and pain. The proline in collagen is an essential compound when it comes to healing of wounds. A lack of proline in the body can result in healing being slower than average.

The production of proline in the body increases when injuries occur. Medical dressings often contain proline fragments that help to stimulate the healing of wounds. Muscle or tendon injuries, severe burns and soft tissue injuries all heal quicker when there is enough proline in the body.

Eating chicken feet introduces more proline into the body speeds up your recovery from any traumatic injury. Skin injuries in particular, such as severe burns, benefit from the proline which breaks down the protein that’s vital for cells to regenerate.

A lack of proline in the body not only results in slow healing but may even be responsible for tears and strains in soft tissue. Poor healing of wounds that often attributes to a lack of vitamin C but underlying this is a lack of collagen because vitamin C is necessary to synthesize collagen. Vitamin C and collagen are both essential when it comes to healing of wounds.

8. Relieves anxiety and promotes sleep

Modern life can be extremely stressful. Anxiety and a lack of sleep are commonly experienced, and they can cause serious health problems. Collagen has anti-anxiety properties due to its high concentration of glycine. This amino acid is one that many of us lack. It may be a non-essential amino acid, but in times of high stress, the body may battle to produce it.

Glycine helps with anxiety because it is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that supports the central nervous system.  This is because of the way it helps to regulate the metabolic synthesis of nutrients. It balances electrolyte levels and helps to control the nerve impulses all over the body.

Getting enough sleep is key to everything from mental health to metabolic function. Research done by the Japanese Society of Sleep Research shows that glycine can improve the quality of sleep. It can also improve daytime drowsiness and fatigue in those who experience insomnia as well as improve the performance of tasks involving memory recognition.

While some meat and dairy products contain some glycine, the best source is those animal parts that people tend to throw away. Chicken feet is one of the best sources of glycine. A bone broth made with chicken feet is inexpensive, easy to make at home and can benefit both your anxiety levels and the quality of your sleep.

9. Improves digestive function

Modern medicine is just beginning to discover how much the gut influences health. Many serious health conditions can be traced back to problems in the gut. Gelatin has been found to help heal the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract. These membranes become chronically inflamed in conditions such as ‘leaky gut’ syndrome or irritable bowel syndrome “.

A ‘leaky gut’ occurs when germs and toxins leak through the lining of the gut and into the bloodstream. They travel all over the body and cause all kinds of damage. The leakage occurs because the intestinal walls have become compromised. The tiny folds in the intestinal ‘villi’ are made of collagen. Collagen can help to prevent and reverse the weakness by building up the collagen in the intestinal walls.

 A chicken feet broth can help to aid digestion, reduce stomach pain and discomfort. People suffering from celiac disease (gluten intolerance) who have various digestive problems often find that a chicken broth is tolerated and can help to heal the gut. The damaged intestinal lining can be repaired by eating the food without causing digestive discomfort and resulting in their immune system going on the attack.

Various studies made of gelatin show that it can increase digestion and utilization of dietary proteins such milk, milk products and meat. The glycine in collagen stimulates the production of stomach acids. Increasing stomach acid production helps to protect against many illnesses.

10. Keeps nails healthy

Healthy nails can be attributed to many different factors. Their health can be affected by aging, dietary lacks, long-term exposure to wet conditions and frequent use of nail polish. If you have fingernails that tend to break and split, this is a sure sign that you may need to boost your collagen levels.

The way nails grow is by cells forming in the root and then hardening as they extend. Getting in enough amino acids in your diet is vital for the formation of these cells, and it is present in the collagen in chicken feet. Nails comprises of collagen, keratin, and minerals, so your body has to have the necessary nutrients to keep them healthy.

The arginine found in collagen is one of the essential amino acids, necessary for nail growth. The fact that it produces nitric oxide which helps improve blood circulation helps with the health of your nails. With proper blood supply, the nails receive all the nutrients they need at the root. Arginine, therefore, helps to improve the first stages of growth of the nails.

There have been few studies related to the effects of collagen on the nails. In a recent trial, 25 women consume a daily supplement of a collagen peptide powder dissolved in water. It was found that this increased the growth of their fingernails by 12% and reduced broken nails by 42%. Their nails also became less brittle.

11. Keeps gums healthy

Oral health is vital to overall health. Collagen and other nutrients are necessary for healthy gums. Many people spend money on trying to create a healthy smile from the outside by teeth whitening, wearing braces and even undergoing surgery. A healthy smile does not come just from the outside but from the inside too. Proper nutrition is the way to make sure the inside is fit.

Many indigenous tribes have beautiful white teeth and healthy gums. They usually eat very little sugar which probably has much to do with a lack of decay. However, they also eat plenty of bone broth containing things like chicken feet. This provides them with the collagen they need to keep their gums healthy, and their teeth shine. Our modern diets are very different, containing many unhealthy foods that contribute to gum disease and teeth decay.

Gum disease occurs when the gums and bones supporting the teeth become chronically infected. The gums are no longer able to help the teeth properly, and they become unstable and may even start falling out.

Research has revealed that collagen is vital for just about every aspect of teeth and gum health. If you can boost your collagen intake, you will help to improve the bone density in your jaw, make sure that your gums are strong and healthy. Also, it ensures that your teeth remain right where they should be.

12. Maintains hormonal balance

To live a long and healthy life, it is very important for our hormones to be balanced and functioning well. Many factors can affect hormonal balance such as stress, lack of sleep and the medications we take. When our hormones are out of whack, they can wreak havoc on our health, causing issues such as weight gain, depression, anxiety, fatigue, digestive problems, insomnia and much more. They are chemical messengers that control processes such as growth, metabolism, and reproduction.

Collagen helps to balance the hormones such as insulin, estrogen, cortisol, melatonin, and progesterone.  The body needs the amino acids found in collagen to balance these hormones. The equilibrium of amino acids in the body plays a large part in controlling function of the thyroid, metabolic rate as well as hormone production.

Consuming the gelatin found in chicken feet gives your body a protein that contains no tryptophan. Eating other types of proteins that contain tryptophan can result indirectly in the increase in cortisol, the stress hormone. Tryptophan itself can contribute to the suppression of thyroid function. If you eat a large serving of meat, it probably helps to take in gelatin at the same time, so that a healthy balance of amino acids enters the body.

13. Good for your heart

Hardening of the arteries is one of the significant risks when it comes to cardiovascular disease. Narrowing of the arteries is believed to be due to excess cholesterol which forms plaque inside the artery. The heart has to work harder to pump the blood which raises the blood pressure and increases the risk of a heart attack. It also causes the blood vessels to become stiffer.

The good news is that eating chicken feet can boost your cardiovascular health and help manage your heart rate.  The proline in collagen breaks down protein needed for cell regeneration and repair.

Proline also helps the walls of the artery to release the build-up of fats and prevent it from accumulating in the arteries and causing blockages. When blockages take place, blood flow is restricted, and the necessary oxygen and nutrients are unable to reach the parts of the body where they are needed.

The arginine in gelatin also helps to control blood pressure, another factor which is very important for cardiovascular health. It produces nitric oxide which causes smooth muscles to relax. When the smooth muscles in the blood vessels relax (vasodilation), this causes the blood pressure to drop and circulation to improve.

14. Improves liver health

Our livers take a beating when they try to get rid of all the toxins we put into our bodies. Over-processed foods, pesticides on fruits and vegetables and alcohol are some of the toxins that can put a strain on the liver. The liver has the job of processing whatever you drink or eat, preparing it for use or getting rid of it.

When the body is able to detoxify properly, overall health improves. When it is not functioning well, toxins are not broken down and eliminated. When excessive toxins build up, this causes inflammation to occur, and this can manifest in many ways. The liver needs an abundance of amino acids to keep it functioning at a high level.

The glycine in collagen can help to reduce liver damage and minimize the damage caused by any toxic substances. Many experts recommend eating a 3-day bone broth diet to detoxify the body. Adding some chicken feet to the bone broth will help to build up your health and help your body to detoxify.

Studies related to Glycine takes place in many animal trials as a potential compound for decreasing liver damage caused by alcohol and other factors. It has been found to help repair liver damage and is even able to lower the effects of alcohol on the liver. It does this by increasing the metabolism of the alcohol in the stomach.

15. Reduces cellulite and prevents stretch marks

Genetics play a part in the onset of stretch marks and cellulite, but collagen levels also have a role. When collagen levels drop, the skin becomes thinner and loses its elasticity.  Stretch marks and cellulite can happen as a result of genetics, your age, the fluctuations of your hormones but also because of the decline of collagen production in your body. When skin contains a healthy amount of collagen, it is firm and less prone to cellulite.

Once you have cellulite, it is tough to get rid of it. Cellulite is a result of lack of collagen in the dermal layer of the skin that helps to support the fat. Cellulite can result from a combination of too little collagen and too much fat. Adding collagen to your diet can help to stimulate collagen production at a cellular level.

As per a study in 2010 of 105 middle-aged women suffering from moderate cellulite, noted that supplementing their diet with hydrolyzed collagen improved the overall appearance of the skin and the cellulite on the thighs. What happens is that as collagen levels increase, the skin walls strengthen. As a result, it retains more moisture making it look firmer, this changes the appearance of the cellulite bumps and makes them less noticeable.

Who knew that eating chicken feet could have so many benefits? Most of these benefits come from getting enough collagen which benefits the skin, cartilage, ligaments, muscles, growth of cells and much more. It not only keeps you healthy but helps you to look younger for longer.

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