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Posted on 11-09-2015

Turkey is a healthy food that should be enjoyed all year and not just restricted to Thanksgiving and the holiday season. According to the National Turkey Federation, 88% of us will eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day!

Turkey (white meat without skin) contains roughly 34 calories and only 1 gram of fat per ounce. Dark meat is higher in fat (2 grams of fat per ounce) and calories than white meat. The average turkey is 70% white meat and 30% dark meat.  Turkey is low in saturated fat and is lower in fat then beef and pork. It is also a wonderful source of protein. In fact, a 4 ounce serving of turkey provides 65 percent of a person’s recommended daily intake of protein. Protein is an important nutrient in that it helps fuel the body, helps build muscle, and keeps us feeling full longer.

Turkey contains many other important nutrients including selenium, which helps promote healthy function of the thyroid gland and helps boost our immune systems. It also contains potassium which plays a central role in energy production in cells throughout the body.  Turkey also contains the mineral zinc which is important in a healthy immune response, is an important antioxidant, and is important in cell growth.

For those looking to increase their B vitamins, turkey fits the bill! A serving of turkey has 36% of the daily recommendation for vitamin B3 (niacin), which helps with blood sugar regulation, helps increase the good levels of HDL cholesterol, and helps process fats. It also contains 27% of the daily recommendation for B6, which is vital for maintaining healthy blood glucose levels, and is essential for the formation of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine (the feel good neurotransmitters)!

Remember that while turkey is healthy, the way it is prepared can affect its health benefits in one’s diet. Turkey is best roasted or grilled as opposed to being deep fried. Use fresh herbs and a citrus marinade. Use a roasting rack so any fat will drain to the bottom of the pan. Stuffing is best cooked outside the turkey to decrease the potential of bacterial contamination. Use a thermometer to make sure the turkey is cooked to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees.

Turkey is great in left overs such as sandwiches, stews, soups, chili, casseroles, or ground in turkey burgers. Dark meat is more favorable then white meat in soups and stews.

Some fun turkey facts:

Domesticated turkeys can’t fly but wild turkeys can fly for short distances up to 55 mph and can run 20 mph.

 Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the official bird of the United States.

Only the male turkey (tom) gobbles. Female turkeys (hens) make a clicking noise.

Turkeys have distinct voices and that is how they recognize each other. In addition, they have over 20 different vocalizations. 

The average turkey has between 5000 and 6000 feathers.

Turkeys originated in North and Central America, and it is believed they have been around for over 10 million years.         

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