Is Turkey Healthy?

For many, the holiday headliner is a turkey dinner. Countless families top off their Thanksgiving with the big bird and then do it all again about a month later.

Holiday eating certainly gets a bad rep, but is it really deserved? And is it possible that Turkey can be the centerpiece of what could be a very healthy meal?


Your holiday meal, and turkey, in particular, doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Turkey itself is quite good for you and easily fits into a healthy diet. It is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and even antioxidants.

Turkey boasts a high assortment of B-vitamins, including niacin, B6, and B12. It is also a good source of choline. It supplies a decent amount of magnesium and phosphorous, and offers iron, potassium, and zinc. It is also relatively high in selenium, which may help boost immune strength.

The health value of turkey can wane depending on how you cook and eat it. Deep frying is a popular cooking method, but it might not be the healthiest option. That said, using canola or peanut oil to fry it and not allowing it to sit in the oil after cooking can alleviate some of the additional calories.

You can also cut back on turkey fat by not eating the skin. If you deep fry and don’t let it sit in the oil, most of the fat is absorbed by the skin. Even if you roast your turkey, virtually all the fat is held in the skin.

If you’re concerned about white or dark meat, don’t be. The fat/calorie difference is negligible.

So, turkey is healthy stuff. It’s what you eat alongside it that may detract from the value of your overall meal.


Try avoiding sugary and starchy sides. Instead, focus on the veggies at your table. How will you know if you ate too much? You’re sleepy.

Although turkey features tryptophan and often gets blamed for after-meal fatigue, consider this: turkey has about much tryptophan per serving as roast beef and canned tuna and less than cheddar cheese.

If you need a nap, it’s probably because you went too deep on starchy sides!

Author Bio

About eight years ago, Mat Lecompte had an epiphany. He’d been ignoring his health and suddenly realized he needed to do something about it. Since then, through hard work, determination and plenty of education, he has transformed his life. He’s changed his body composition by learning the ins and outs of nutrition, exercise, and fitness and wants to share his knowledge with you. Starting as a journalist over 10 years ago, Mat has not only honed his belief system and approach with practical experience, but he has also worked closely with nutritionists, dieticians, athletes, and fitness professionals. He embraces natural healing methods and believes that diet, exercise and willpower are the foundation of a healthy, happy, and drug-free existence.