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The Underrated Reason You Actually Should Leave The Skin On Your Chicken

Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor
By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN
Expert review by
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN
mbg Vice President of Scientific Affairs
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN is Vice President of Scientific Affairs at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia.
Image by Jeff Wasserman / Stocksy
October 11, 2021

There are tons of foods that can help support and boost your natural collagen production (feel free to check out our list here), including a gorgeous mix of fruits and veggies. But in terms of delivering actual collagen to your cells (rather than using antioxidants to protect the collagen you have from oxidative stress wear and tear), well, you're looking at beef, chicken, or fish—you could also supplement with hydrolyzed collagen peptides.* These targeted products source collagen from the aforementioned animal trio as well. After all, collagen is not vegan, and believing otherwise is a big mistake

Another common mistake, it turns out, has to do with your poultry intake: To increase their dietary collagen, many people opt for boneless, skinless chicken breasts and call it a day. A major no: You should leave the skin on for its collagen-boosting benefits.

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Why you should leave the skin on your chicken.

Chicken skin is a good source of high-quality collagen, according to research. To break it down into specifics, the skin contains around 55% water, 35% connective tissue (mostly collagen), around 5 to 10% fat, and 0.5% ash (depending on how you cook it). Don't worry, "ash" means minerals (nutrients).

And let's not forget, collagen helps make up the structure of our own skin—we actually make our own supply via our cells' fibroblasts (although, our natural levels decrease with age), so it makes sense you'd find an abundance in animal skin as well. 

Tendons and ligaments are also very high in that connective tissue; in fact, one study used chicken cartilage as a collagen source to help with joint comfort.* Another study found that women who took collagen supplements made from chicken cartilage saw major improvements in aging skin, including reducing fine lines and wrinkles.*

This chicken anatomy lesson has a point (so stay with us, here): If you're eating boneless, skinless chicken breasts, you're not consuming that collagen-rich cartilage. They're still a good source of protein in their own right, no hate against chicken breasts, but if you are hoping to reap the benefits of collagen, don't omit the best part of the equation. Finally, no matter how you prepare your bird, organic, pasture-raised chicken is the way to go, if it's accessible to you. 

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The takeaway. 

Plenty of foods can help support your collagen production—just make sure you're not unknowingly tossing the richest source. With chicken, keeping the skin on can give you even more of a collagen boost.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.
Jamie Schneider
Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.