Nutritional Benefits of Turkey

When I think of Thanksgiving I think of turkey. Ever since I was a little girl, I went to the store, stared at the turkeys in the cooler, waited for one to “speak to me”, named it, and went home with it. It was actually a tradition in my family until this year.

Turkey is very healthy for you, even the dark meat. Turkey has high protein value, vitamins B6 and B12, niacin, choline, selenium, and zinc. Though the dark meat contains more fat and calories, it tends to have more vitamins and minerals than the white meat. Turkey also contains an amino acid called tryptophan. Your body will use tryptophan and turn it into niacin which plays a key role in creating serotonin. This is where the saying, “turkey makes you sleepy” comes into play. However, it does not contain enough tryptophan to cause sleepiness.

84 grams of turkey approximately has 117 calories, 24 grams of protein, and 0 carbs. 84 grams also has approximately the recommended daily value of 61% of niacin or vitamin B3, 49% of vitamin B6, 29% of B12, 46% of selenium, 12% of zinc, 26% of sodium, 28% of phosphorus, 12% of choline, 6% of magnesium, and 4% of potassium.

The overall nutrients in the turkey do depend on the cut. Because dark meat is more fatty than white meat it will have more calories. Also, the turkey’s skin is high in fat, so cuts with the skin will have more calories too but the difference in calories is rather small.