Lets Talk Turkey

body + soul

19 December 2010

 

Turkey is often associated with Christmas, but should we be it eating more often? Words Tatyana Leonov.

Meat (including poultry) is a valuable source of protein and other nutrients. When it comes to a healthy diet it's important to choose the right kind of meat and eat the correct portion size. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends we eat one serving of meat per day, equal to 65 to 100 grams of cooked meat.

Turkey meat is a highly nutritious choice with numerous health benefits. In fact, turkey is a high-protein, low-GI food that can help keep insulin levels at a desirable range after eating.

Turkey meat comes in various forms; as Christmas nears you'll notice whole turkeys on display in supermarkets and butchers. Sliced turkey is readily available and you'll find it pre-packaged alongside the ham, chicken and roast beef sandwich varieties. Many supermarkets and butchers also stock other parts of the turkey throughout the year - breast and thigh pre-packaged roasts, uncooked breast, mince, cutlets and tenderloins are among some of the more popular choices.

Turkeys are not native to Australia (today's domestic turkey is a descendant of the wild turkey local to northern Mexico and the Eastern United States) and farming them is significantly different to farming other poultry. However, consumption of turkey is growing; this year each Australians will have consumed 1.7kg of turkey meat on average, and this figure is estimated to grow to 2.5kg by 2011, according to the Australasian Turkey Federation. Why? Turkey meat is now becoming more widely available and is competitively priced alongside other meats such as beef, lamb and chicken. Plus it tastes pretty good too!

 

The Pros

Turkey is a rich source of protein.

Skinless turkey is low in fat - choose the white meat as it's lower in kilojoules and has less fat than the dark meat. (A typical turkey will consist of 70 per cent white meat and 30 per cent dark meat).

Turkey meat is a source of iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus.

Vitamin B6 and niacin, present in turkey meat, are essential for energy production in the body. Niacin also helps in converting fats, carbohydrates and proteins into energy.

Regular consumption of turkey can help lower cholesterol levels.

Turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, which produces serotonin and plays an important role in strengthening the immune system.

The selenium found in turkey is essential for the thyroid hormone metabolism. Plus it boosts immune health and acts as an antioxidant.

 

The Cons

Turkey can be high in sodium.

Some turkey meat, particularly pre-packaged slices, can be processed and can contain other substances.

Turkey skin is high in fat.

Research suggests that large amounts of tryptophan can make you sleepy.

 

Turkey Tips

If you can, buy organic. Turkeys raised organically will have been treated more humanely and the meat is less likely to contain pesticides and herbicides.

When buying turkey look for meat that is supple.

To ensure a turkey roast is cooked properly it needs to be piping hot all the way through.

Turkey dries out quickly so it's important not to overcook it.

If marinating turkey meat put it in the fridge straight after you've finished, as it is highly sensitive to heat.

Remember to store turkey away from any gravy, other stuffing or any raw food.

Refrigerated turkey will keep for about one or two days. If the turkey is already cooked it will keep for about four days.

 

Did you know?

The turkey bird was introduced to England in 16th century. Before that it was traditional to eat goose or the head of a boar for the Christmas meal.