Health Benefits Of Turkey, Recipes, And Possible Risks

Written by Aparna Mallampalli

It is often said that Thanksgiving is incomplete without turkey meat. Turkey is one of the majorly consumed forms of meat in the United States. It is believed to be among the best sources of protein. It is often a special treat on many occasions and special dinners.

This meat is taken from both domestic and wild turkeys. It is generally preserved by smoking or bottling to increase the shelf life.

Turkey meat is rich in other important nutrients and may offer certain health benefits. Keep reading to know more about them, how to use turkey meat in your diet, and its potential side effects.

What Is Turkey Meat?

Turkey meat is a popular dish in western culture. It typically consists of white or center breast muscles. Turkey meat usually contains less fat than dark meat. It is among the most preferred forms of lean protein.

Turkeys are usually preserved by curing, smoking, or freezing. While traditionally salts were used for curing, nitrites are becoming more common in the recent times.

Turkey meat is consumed usually during Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States. We have listed the calorific values of different types of turkey meat in the table below. These may help you choose the suitable type.

Meat TypeCalories
Breast with skin194
Breast without skin161
Leg with skin213
Skin only482

Know more about the nutrient profile* of turkey in the next section.

Nutrients In Turkey

One cup of turkey contains:

  •  Protein: 41.9 g
  •  Fat: 4.5 g
  •  Carbs: 0 g
  •  Sodium: 89.6 mg
  •  Potassium: 427 mg
  •  Iron: 1.9 mg
  •  Magnesium: 39.2 mg
  •  Calcium: 26.6 mg
  •  Selenium: 44.9 mcg
  •  Folate: 8.4 mcg
  •  Vitamin B12: 0.5 mcg

*All values are sourced from nutritiondata.self.com

Turkey is white meat and is a lean protein. It offers important health benefits. Keep reading to know more about them.

Health Benefits Of Turkey

1. May Exhibit Anti-Cancer Properties

While turkey may not be directly linked to fighting cancer, its selenium content may play a role. Turkey offers 64% of the daily requirement of selenium. Studies suggest that selenium may have anti-cancer properties. The nutrient may also reduce the rate of tumor growth and induce cancer cell death (apoptosis). This anti-cancer activity is observed against cancers of the colon, prostate, lung, bladder, skin, esophagus, and stomach. However, more direct research on the anti-cancer effects of turkey are warranted.

2. May Help Promote Muscle Mass

Turkey is rich in protein that is proven to play a major role in boosting muscle mass and strength when coupled with resistance exercise. Some studies even suggest that adequate protein in one’s diet may help the elderly overcome sarcopenia (a condition characterized by the loss of skeletal muscle mass and function).

Turkey meat is also thought to be digested easily, and could be the ideal meat variant for the elderly. However, more information is warranted in this regard.

3. May Help Manage Anemia

Turkey is rich in folate and vitamin B12 that may help manage anemia. Research shows that both are necessary for the proper formation and functioning of red blood cells. Cooked and roasted turkey may have higher amounts of folate and vitamin B12. These two may help combat iron deficiency and the associated anemia.

Turkey meat is not only nutritionally dense, but also has a great flavor and texture. You can try some of the following tasty turkey recipes.

Recipes With Turkey Meat

1. Creamy Turkey Salad

Creamy Turkey Salad

Shutterstock

What You Need

  •  4 cups sliced and cooked turkey
  •  ⅓ cup low-fat sour cream
  •  1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  •  1 tablespoon honey
  •  1 cup diced celery
  •  1 cup chopped broccoli
  •  1 cup shredded carrots
  •  ½ cup chopped lettuce
  •  ½ cup chopped cabbage
  •  ½ cup green peas
  •  ½ tablespoon salt

Method

  1.  Mix sour cream, lemon juice, and honey in a small bowl.
  2.  Once blended, store in the refrigerator for dressing.
  3.  Mix the cooked turkey, celery, broccoli, lettuce, carrots, green peas, and cabbage in a large bowl.
  4.  Sprinkle ½ tablespoon of salt and mix the salad gently.
  5.  Refrigerate this salad for an hour before serving.
  6.  Serve it with the sour cream.

2. Maple Apple Turkey Sausage

What You Need

  •  1 pound lean ground turkey
  •  1 finely chopped apple
  •  1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  •  ¼ teaspoon salt
  •  ½ teaspoon dried sage
  •  ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  •  ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram
  •  ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  2 ground cloves
  •  1 tablespoon olive oil

Method

  1.  Combine the turkey, apple pieces, maple syrup, salt, sage, and garlic powder in a large bowl. Mix them thoroughly.
  2.  Add black pepper, marjoram, cinnamon, and cloves. Squeeze gently and mix properly.
  3.  Mold the mixture into small patties and keep them aside.
  4.  Let the patties air dry for 15 minutes.
  5.  Heat a skillet over medium flame and brush olive oil on it.
  6.  Place the molded patties on the skillet and fry them slowly by turning them gently.
  7.  A perfectly fried patty will turn golden brown color and the pink shade of meat is no longer seen. It takes almost 15 minutes to get a completely fried patty.
  8.  Switch off the flame after 15 minutes and garnish with celery.
  9.  Serve hot. You can also serve the patties with maple syrup.

3. Herb Roasted Turkey

What You Need

  •  1 turkey (5 to 6 pounds, approx.)
  •  ½ cup salted butter
  •  2 teaspoons dried thyme
  •  2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  •  2 teaspoons dried parsley
  •  2 teaspoons garlic powder
  •  1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  •  ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  1 pound baby potatoes
  •  2 large onions, roughly chopped
  •  8 cloves garlic, minced
  •  1 drizzle olive oil
  •  1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method

  1.  Set the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2.  Mix butter with thyme, rosemary, parsley, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Keep it aside.
  3.  Sprinkle salt and pepper on turkey after patting dry with paper towels.
  4.  Season potatoes, onions, and garlic with olive oil.
  5.  Sprinkle the salt and pepper.
  6.  Place them on a baking sheet
  7.  Apply the prepared herb butter over the meat and under the skin of the turkey. Add lemon juice on the top.
  8.  Bake it for 30 minutes in a preheated oven.
  9.  Continue to bake the turkey, for about 30 minutes, until there is no pink in the centers any longer.
  10.  Take it out and serve hot after 30 minutes.

Storage And Food Safety

Turkey should be stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it. Avoid buying pre-stuffed turkeys as they may cause food-borne illnesses. Turkeys can be frozen indefinitely, but they are consumed best within a year.

The three safest ways to thaw a frozen turkey are in the refrigerator, cold water, or microwave. Turkeys should be thawed for a specified amount of time depending on their weight. Turkey should be generally cooked until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

Despite the benefits it offers, excess intake of turkey may also lead to some adverse effects. Read on to know more about them.

Risks Of Overconsuming Turkey

1. May Increase The Risk Of Obesity

Although turkey is white meat and a good source of many nutrients, there are chances that it may increase the risk of obesity. As per a study, meat consumption could be linked to obesity, central obesity, and an increased waist circumference.

2. May Increase The Risk Of Stroke

Although white meat is considered a good alternative for red meats, it may not be a perfect substitute if consumed in processed forms. Regular intake of processed white meat also increase the risk of stroke. However, more research is warranted in this regard.

Conclusion

Turkey is a concentrated source of protein. It is replete with other nutrients like selenium, folate, and vitamin B12. Consuming it in moderation may have many beneficial effects. However, moderation is advised. Also, avoid processed meat varieties as they tend to be high in sodium and may cause various chronic ailments.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Is turkey better for you than chicken?

Turkey has fewer calories than chicken and a decent amount of protein. Hence, turkey may be a better choice than chicken.

Who should not eat turkey?

People with digestive problems and with complaints of high cholesterol should avoid consuming turkey.

Is turkey considered pork?

No, turkey is not considered pork. Pork is red meat (coming from a pig) whereas turkey is white meat.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Nutrition and cancer: A review of the evidence for an anti-cancer diet
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC526387/
  2. Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6566799/#:~:text=Increased%20protein%20intake%20contributes%20to
  3. Nutrient-rich meat proteins in offsetting age-related muscle loss
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22632883/
  4. New insights into erythropoiesis: the roles of folate vitamin B12 and iron
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15189115/
  5. The role of vitamins in the prevention and control of anaemia
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10948381/
  6. Dietary recommendations in patients with deficiency anemia nutritional recommendations in patients with deficiency anemia
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0185106315000463
  7. Meat consumption is associated with obesity and central obesity among US adults
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC2697260/
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Aparna is a professor-turned-content writer with over 5 years of experience in life sciences. Her passion for writing and interest in the healthcare and wellness industry pushed her toward a career in content writing. She has a master’s in Microbiology and aims to use her knowledge of life sciences to break down complex information into easily understandable content for the readers. When she’s not working, Aparna loves cooking and collecting keychains.