Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey Is Nutritious!

You don't have to break your diet to enjoy Thanksgiving. Just watch your portions. 2-3 ounces of turkey is a healthy source of necessary vitamins and minerals, as well as protein.

Roast turkey. CC2.0 license. Source

Turkey, like other types of meat, contains protein, which is a necessary component of a balanced diet, along with fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Turkey also contains fats, vitamins, and minerals recommended for daily dietary intake. Like most things, though, moderation is key. For calorie conscious eaters, the skinless breast is the least worrisome of all the bird’s parts.

Vitamins and minerals in turkey

A single serving of turkey is considered to be 2 to 3 ounces, and 2 to 3 servings of meat is recommended per day. In this portion is iron, zinc, phosphorous, potassium, and B vitamins. Iron is important for the transport of oxygen by red blood cells. A deficiency of iron can result in anemia. Zinc is important for immune function, reproductive function, and is a component of many cellular proteins. Phosphorous is important for cellular metabolism and energy use. Potassium is important for blood pressure regulation. B vitamins are important for the immune system and have roles in cellular metabolism.

The caloric composition of turkey

The portions of the turkey with the least amount of calories are the breast and the dark meat without skin. Protein, fat (both saturated and unsaturated), and carbohydrates (or sugars) make up the caloric, or energy producing, composition of a food. Each gram of fat is 9 cal, protein is 4 cal, and carbohydrates is 3 cal. There are no carbohydrates in unprocessed turkey based on several sources, including the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. Turkey contains more protein than the same size serving of chicken or beefsteak.

A single serving of turkey breast without skin contains approximately 160 calories from 30 grams of protein and 4 grams of fat; very little of this is saturated fat (less than a half gram). Breast with skin has about 30 more calories because there is less protein and twice as much fat. Dark meat without skin is similar to breast with skin. Fresh roasted turkey is also relatively low in sodium, containing less than 50 mg per 3 ounce serving.

A healthy Thanksgiving meal

It is known that many people gorge during the holidays, putting their diets and shame aside. This can lead to guilt, self-anger, and even sleepiness. The simple act of having a traditional turkey does not have to result in bad habits or feelings. When eaten with sensible side dishes, or moderate portions of once-a-year favorites, the Thanksgiving turkey can be enjoyable and not ruin your diet.

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