There are so many of you who don’t love chicken feet. I’m firmly in the other camp, a believer of eating chicken feet and other odd bits.
It’s fortunate that I like the gelatinous, sometimes chewy texture – depending on whether they are stewed, boiled or fried – but confess the sight of those fleshy “fingers” freaks me out every time.
They look like hands … too human-like for comfort. But they are not; get over it and get on, I tell myself.
There are just so many health benefits to eating chicken feet that if you are concerned about eating well, healing through food and doing the sustainable thing, you just can’t ignore them.
Top on the list is their collagen content. Collagen fills the body’s intercellular space and is the most abundant protein in animals, making up about 30% of our protein content – think of it as the cement that props up your house.
As the body ages, it becomes less efficient at replenishing collagen, leading to sagging skin and joint pain and osteoporosis. If you are concerned about wrinkles and mobility as I am, you may want to supplement the body’s collagen through diet, or a pill.
Some of the expensive collagen pills you buy at the drugstore are just groundup chicken feet. So it seems silly to pay so much for bird parts that are usually trashed.
And according to studies, collagen through a food source like bone broth is much more readily absorbed by the body than a pill.
Find collagen in animal parts such as skin, tendon, cartilage and offals, and vegetal sources such as seaweed and agar agar – basically all the food that have a squishy, gelatinous texture like sea cucumber, fish maw, bird’s nest (which you pay a king’s ransom for), pig’s trotters and skin, and chicken neck, wing and feet.
Among the many collagen, fish collagen – from fish head, bone and scale – is said to be the most beneficial to man as its structure is closest to ours and it is the most easily absorbed. But chicken feet come highly rated by experts too.
Collagen turns into gelatin after cooking. So gelatin is what we would be eating unless you have a plate of raw beef tendon seasoned with sambal.
Most people consume gelatin in the form of bone broth, a recently rediscovered superfood on account of its gelatin content, and chicken feet are a popular addition to bone broth.
Besides being important for skin, nail, hair and bone health, collagen and gelatin are crucial for maintaining gut health.
Modern medicine is just now rediscovering how the gut influences health and disease.
Collagen is found to protect and soothe the lining of the digestive tract and help prevent leaky gut syndrome – where toxins and germs leak through the gut lining – something blamed for a lot of today’s ailments, from autism and food allergies to chronic fatique.
It also balances out your meat intake. Muscle meats contain elevated levels of certain amino acids, which can be inflammatory over time. Gelatin’s two anti-inflammatory amino acids – glycine and arginine – help to balance, and complement meat.
More on bone health: Chicken feet are high in calcium and helps in reducing the risk of brittle bone and nail – 100g of boiled chicken feet provide 88mg or 9% of daily value of calcium.
You may have heard of pet owners who are religious about feeding their old arthritic dogs chicken feet as a source of chondroitin and glucosamine.
Chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine extracted from boiled down cartilage help reduce joint pain and inflammation.
So instead of having collagen injected in my face as wrinkle filler, I’d rather have weekly bowls of bone broth or chicken feet, which should help to reduce my glucosamine bills as well.