Chickens and turkeys have an organ not found in people. A chicken's gizzard is located right before its stomach in the digestive tract and functions as a mechanical stomach, helping grind up its food and start the digestive process, since these birds don't have any teeth. Like all meats, gizzards contain protein.
During digestion, the proteins you eat are broken down into amino acids, which are then combined into whichever proteins your body needs to function properly. Without getting enough protein in your diet, you body wouldn't be able to repair cell damage and make new cells. You should get between 10 and 35 percent of your calories from protein. The exact amount of protein you need depends on your age and whether you are healthy, but two servings of protein-rich foods are usually enough to meet your basic needs.
Protein in Gizzards
Animal-based proteins, like those found in gizzards, are complete proteins, since they provide sufficient amounts of all of the essential amino acids. Each 3-ounce serving of gizzards contains 15 grams of protein, which is about 30 percent of the daily value for protein of 50 grams for a person who eats 2,000 calories per day.
Broiling and boiling are two of the healthier ways to cook gizzards, although you can also fry them. Cook gizzards with onions as you would liver, mix them with wine and garlic to make a sauce for pasta or add them to chicken soup or stuffing. Some people use gizzards and other giblets to make stock, which can then be added to pan drippings to make gravy. However, it is healthier to cook gizzards with broth, flour and hard-cooked eggs to make gravy.
While gizzards are good sources of protein, iron, zinc, phosphorus and niacin, they also contain cholesterol. Each 3-ounce serving contains 304 milligrams of cholesterol, which is slightly more than the recommended daily limit of 300 milligrams. If you eat gizzards, limit the other foods you eat during the day that contain cholesterol, or eat a smaller portion so that you stick to the recommended levels. Since gizzards aren't high in fat or saturated fat, with each serving only supplying 2 grams of fat and 0.5 grams of saturated fat, they aren't likely to greatly impact your cholesterol levels if you eat them occasionally.
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Chicken, Gizzard, All Classes, Raw
- MedlinePlus: Protein in Diet
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- Food Safety and Inspection Service: Giblets and Food Safety
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: 14. Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.