The relationship between the consumption of meat and health is multifaceted, and it needs to be analyzed in detail, with specific attention to the relevant differences that characterize the effects of the different meat types, as yet considered by only a limited literature. A variable but moderate energy content, highly digestible proteins (with low levels of collagen) of good nutritional quality, unsaturated lipids (mainly found in the skin and easily removed), B-group vitamins (mainly thiamin, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid), and minerals (like iron, zinc, and copper) make poultry meat a valuable food. Epidemiological studies performed across the world, in highly diverse populations with different food preferences and nutritional habits, provide solid information on the association between poultry consumption, within a balanced diet, and good health. Consumption of poultry meat, as part of a vegetable-rich diet, is associated with a risk reduction of developing overweight and obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Also, white meat (and poultry in particular) is considered moderately protective or neutral on cancer risk. The relevance of poultry meat for humans also has been recognized by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), who considers this widely available, relatively inexpensive food to be particularly useful in developing countries, where it can help to meet shortfalls in essential nutrients. Moreover, poultry meat consumption also contributes to the overall quality of the diet in specific ages and conditions (prior to conception, during pregnancy up to the end of breastfeeding, during growth, and in the geriatric age) and is suitable for those who have an increased need for calorie and protein compared to the general population.
Keywords: balanced diet; human nutrition; poultry meat composition; poultry meat consumption.