Protein Primer, Part 4: Turkey is THE Power Protein
By Shannon Crocker MSc RD, Vibrant Nutrition Communications
This is the last in a four-part series on protein; so far, we’ve reviewed what protein is, why we need it and how protein benefits health. We’ve also highlighted how turkey is packed with protein; but it’s so much more than that!
Let’s take a closer look at the whole package of goodness that Canadian Turkey provides, making it THE power protein!
It’s worth repeating…turkey is packed with high quality protein.
Every bite of turkey is an excellent source of high quality protein. It’s recommended that you aim for about 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal to help you feel energized and satisfied, to build and maintain muscle, and to help manage a healthy weight.
Each 100-gram serving of turkey has about 30 grams of high quality protein; enjoying turkey at your meals is an easy and delicious way to help meet your protein needs.
Dark or light meat, turkey is a lean protein.
Dietitians recommend lean protein as part of a healthy diet. All fresh cuts of turkey (without the skin) are lean:
- Dark turkey meat is lean, with just 8 grams of fat per a 100-gram serving. And, dark meat is especially rich in iron, selenium and zinc. Dark meat lovers rejoice!
- White turkey meat is a low fat choice. Each 100-gram serving of white turkey meat is extra lean with just 3 grams of fat.
- Ground turkey is extra lean with just 8.7 grams of fat per 100-gram serving. Ground turkey has just over half the fat of lean ground beef, making turkey an ideal choice for your healthy barbecued burgers!
Even though lean protein is recommended, you still need some fat in your diet for good health. For example, the small amount of fat in a serving of turkey can help your body absorb some vitamins and antioxidants (e.g. vitamin E and beta carotene) found in veggies and fruit.
Good to know: Almost half the fat in turkey is monounsaturated – that’s the same type of fat found in heart healthy olive oil!
Turkey provides a whole package of health-boosting nutrients.
Turkey is nutrient-rich; that means that turkey has a lot of nutrients per calorie, such as:
- Vitamin B12. All cuts of fresh turkey are an excellent source* of vitamin B12, which we need to keep our nervous system – the body’s electrical wiring – working well. You need foods rich in vitamin B12 daily (it’s not stored in your body); that’s another great reason to eat turkey any day, not just holidays!
- Selenium: Selenium works as an antioxidant that helps protect all your cells from damage and as such, plays a role in healthy skin. Selenium is also needed to keep your immune system and your thyroid working at their best. Both white and dark meat provide selenium, but dark meat is even richer in this skin-loving mineral.
- Zinc: Think of the mineral zinc like your immune system’s inner boxer; it helps your body fight off infections and heal wounds. All cuts of turkey will provide you with some body-boosting zinc, but ground turkey and dark turkey meat have the most.
An added bonus: turkey contains zinc that your body can easily absorb. Although you can get zinc from plant foods (e.g. whole grains), your body absorbs the zinc found in animal foods, like turkey, more easily.
* per 100 gram serving
Turkey is tops in flavour!
Not only does turkey deliver a powerful nutrient package, but turkey is also a clear winner when it comes to taste! Turkey pairs well with all sorts of flavourful ingredients to make delicious meals that you can enjoy any time of the year.
With grilling in mind for summer, here are five mouth-watering Canadian Turkey grilling recipes that feature scrumptious flavour combinations:
Canadian Turkey, Bacon and Pineapple Skewers
Grilled Turkey Panzanella Salad
Chimichurri Turkey Breast on the Grill
Grilled Turkey Sausage and Summer Greens Pizza
Turkey Sliders with Chipotle Mayo and Avocado Relish
Institute of Medicine. Dietary reference intakes: the essential guide to nutrient requirements. Washington: National Academies Press, 2006. Gilbert JA et al. Effects of proteins from different sources on body composition. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Sep;21 Suppl 2:B16-31.
Phillips SM, Chevalier S, Leidy HJ. Protein « requirements » beyond the RDA: implications for https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23939686 http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Heart-Health/Facts-on-Fats.aspx
Canadian Nutrient File, version 2015:
- Turkey, hen, light meat only, roasted (code 765)
- Turkey, hen, dark meat only, roasted (code 767)