What is the nutritional value of Chitlins?

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Chitlins, often spelled as chitterlings, are basically a popular delicacy that is prepared from pig’s intestines. In the southern United States, they consider Chitlins as a soul food, though the preparation takes a good deal of time. Chitlins are particularly popular among  majority of  African American families and served during Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner parties.

Now a days, there are  many Chitlins festivals organised  across the  United States which  attract a huge crowd. It all began with the Chitlins Strut, in South Carolina. Now over 70,000 people grace this festival every year. They consume about 100,000 pounds (45,000 kilograms) of Chitlins each year. On stewing, Chitlins release somewhat a foul smell, and people find it quite unpleasant. Perhaps this led to the tradition of outdoor cooking for  Chitlins  to avoid the intense smell, overpowering small living spaces. Once cooked, Chitlins do not retain any peculiar smell. Most people hate the odor of cooking Chitlins but relish the end result.


What is the History behind Chitlins?  

In United States, during the winter, African slaves were served with various leftover foods and Chitlins were one among them. When hogs were slaughtered, African slaves were usually given the intestines to eat instead of the meat. This gradually led to a dependence on the food. Even post-slavery, Chitlins continued to be a beloved culinary tradition.


How Chitlins are served?

  • Chitlins are favored addition to stews or soups.
  • Some people like them cooked whereas others prefer to have them deep-fried. Chitlins are often dipped in mustard and other spicy condiments before deep frying.
  • Many people prefer to have fried Chitlins with salsa and tortillas.
  • Chitlins are also used  casings for  sausages. 
  • Chitlins can be baked until they become golden brown and crisp.


What are the nutritional values of Chitlins?

Chitlins are rich in a wide range of nutritional elements including proteins, vitamins, and trace minerals.

  • Chitlins are rich in selenium content. 3oz of Chitlins gives about 21 micrograms of selenium. The trace mineral controls proper functioning of thyroid glands and keeps the immune system healthy. Selenium also reduce the risk of heart disease and asthma as well.
  • Consuming 3oz of Chitlins gives about 10.6g of protein which aids in the building muscles.
  • Chitlins aslo contains iron. 3oz of Chitlins contains  1.25 mg of iron. Iron is the key element for red blood cell production.
  • Chitlins are very high in saturated fat(27%) and cholesterol(78%).  
  • Chitlins are very low in sodium content (1%).
  • Chitlins contain wide array of minerals including zinc, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium. These minerals are required to activate enzyme reactions necessary for physiological functions. Besides they help to build teeth and bone , regulate metabolism (carbohydrate, protein and fat), calcium absorption, maintenance of acid-base balance, nerve impulse condition, wound healing, collagen formation, and energy production.
  • Chitlins are an excellent source of vitamin B-12 which keeps eyes, skin, and hair healthy. Vitamin B-12 also aids in regulating the nervous system and
  • Chitlins have traces of Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Folate, Choline, Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), and Tocopherol, gamma.
  • Chitlins have no dietary fiber.


What are the side-effects of Chitlins?

  • As Chitlins are intestines of pigs, they need to be cleaned extensively before consumption. They might contain residual fecal matter, which can harbor several deadly bacteria and microorganisms including Yersinia, E. coli and Salmonella. On ingesting these parasites,  gastrointestinal complications may arise.  If you are buying uncooked Chitlins, you need to handpick any leftover fecal matter. The intestines have to be boiled for at least 3 hours until they become brown and fork tender.It is always better to buy frozen and consume Chitlins that have been cleaned and cooked with mildly seasoning. 
  • Chitlins are very rich in Saturated Fatty Acids . Hence, it must be avoided by people with heart ailments and high blood pressure complications.
  • Chitlins are very fattening and must be avoided by overweight people, diabetic patients and pregnant women.
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