Eating Turkey This Thanksgiving? Here’s What You Should Know
Some love the side dishes, while others can’t wait for the leftover breakfast. But there’s only one star for one of the most popular American holidays: the turkey.
Since most Thanksgiving meals usually turn into feasts that leave you fuller than you’ve ever been (every year), they’re not seen as the healthiest dinner option. Luckily, though, you don’t have to feel that guilty about enjoying a good piece of turkey.
Why? This type of lean meat is extremely rich in nutrients and protein which keep you healthy in the long run.
Today, we’re going to have a look at the main health benefits provided by turkey and why you should enjoy this food more than once a year!
A great source of protein
Perhaps one of the most important benefits provided by turkey lays in its high protein content.
Protein is a macronutrient also known as the building block for muscles, as it helps the muscle tissue grow and recover faster. It’s also an important ally for weight loss since it provides satiety and helps you avoid giving in to unhealthy cravings.
Only 2 slices (84 grams) of turkey offer 24 grams of protein, which is no less than 48% of your Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)!
Note that turkey may also be a healthier alternative to red meat, another well-known source of protein. Studies such as this one have found that eating red meat constantly can increase the long-term risk of heart disease and colon cancer, so it might be good to alternate the two.
Rich in B vitamins
Aside from being a good source of protein, your Thanksgiving turkey also provides you with a valuable dose of B vitamins.
In fact, two slices (84 grams) of turkey offer the following:
- 61% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin B3, an essential nutrient for energy production and improved cell communication in your body;
- 49% of the DV for vitamin B6, which is responsible for amino acid formation as well as boosting the production of neurotransmitters;
- 29% of the DV for vitamin B12, a crucial component required for DNA and red blood cells productions.
Loaded with minerals
Turkey is packed with valuable amounts of minerals including zinc, selenium and phosphorus.
Not impressed yet? Let me explain.
Selenium is a mineral that boosts the production of thyroid hormones – an essential process to regulate your metabolism. (You can read more on how the thyroid works in my post right here)
Meanwhile, zinc is involved in a wide range of bodily functions and processes; the most notable ones are protein synthesis, enzyme reactions and even gene expression.
As for phosphorus, this mineral is crucial to keep your bones strong and healthy in the long run.
Careful with processed options!
By now, we’ve learned that even small servings of turkey consumed regularly can help us reach the recommended values for essential nutrients that keep us healthy.
Unfortunately, though, not every turkey meat is equally beneficial. In fact, some processed varieties can do more harm then good! Why?
Almost every time, processed meats such as turkey sausages, nuggets or ham are loaded with outstandingly high amounts of sodium (salt). This ingredient is used in processed varieties to preserve the meat and enhance its flavor.
However, excessive consumption of salt is extremely harmful in the long run. For example, this study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition proved that eating foods high in salt can increase your risk for developing stomach cancer. Meanwhile, reducing your daily sodium intake can bring multiple benefits such as reducing high blood pressure.
If you still think there’s nothing bad about processed varieties, think again.
Turkey salami and pastrami, for instance, offer up to 75% of your DV for sodium – and that’s in a single 100-gram serving. By comparison, the same 100-gram serving of unprocessed turkey meat has only 31% of your DV for sodium.
Of course, we can all give in to our cravings once in a while, so if you’d like to enjoy a bit of turkey ham every now and then, it will probably not harm your health or diet. As with all things in life, balance is key to living a happy, healthy lifestyle in the long run.
Looking for more useful nutrition content? Try one of our posts:
- What Happens If You Eat Mold by Accident?
- 5 Side-Effects of Soy You Should Know About
- Coffee Vs. Tea: Which One Is Healthier for You?
What’s your favorite way of enjoying turkey? Share your recipes in the comment section and let’s help each other enjoy food in a healthy way!