With dishes like pecan pie, stuffing, and gravy on the menu, Thanksgiving Day can be a nightmare for anyone who is trying to follow a healthy diet.
Fortunately, the main course, turkey, has a variety of health benefits. Read on to learn about five reasons to eat turkey this Thanksgiving.
#1 High Protein Content
Turkey is an excellent source of protein. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a 3-ounce serving of roasted turkey breast packs 24 grams of protein, which might just keep you full and prevent you from overindulging in high-calorie Thanksgiving fare. In a 2014 study in the European Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that high-protein meals increased feelings of fullness. Load your plate with turkey to make it easier to pass up a second helping of buttery dinner rolls.
#2 Source of Selenium
Turkey provides the body with selenium. As the authors of a 2000 report in The Lancet have explained, this trace mineral is vital for health. Per the authors, selenium is an antioxidant, and it is needed to produce thyroid hormones, maintain the immune system, and fight against infections.
#3 Fatty Acids
The fatty acids in turkey could be good for your health. In 2013, scientists for the journal Nutrition found that eating more poultry was associated with a lower risk of depression. The scientists speculated that this could be due to the presence of certain fatty acids in turkey, as some research has shown that they are protective against depression. There are additional benefits associated with these fatty acids; according to the authors of a 2014 report in the Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science, the fatty acids in poultry could provide protection against heart disease.
#4 Tryptophan in Turkey
Turkey is a known source of the amino acid tryptophan, which has a variety of benefits. According to authors for a 2006 publication of Alternative Medicine Review, the research has shown that tryptophan can treat seasonal affective disorder and sleep disorders; it can also alleviate symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome in women. These effects are likely due to tryptophan’s role in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
#5 Overall Calorie Content
Compared to other Thanksgiving dishes, turkey, especially the breast, is low in calories. Three ounces of roasted turkey breast contain just 160 calories, per the USDA. You can pile your plate high with turkey without packing too many extra calories into your Thanksgiving meal.
Fill up on turkey this Thanksgiving, and you will consume far fewer calories than if you load your plate with pumpkin pie and green bean casserole. With turkey providing other benefits, such as high protein and selenium content, you can indulge guilt-free during your Thanksgiving dinner.
– Contributed by Jenni Jacobsen
Editor’s Note: Indulge in the turkey, the other stuff may kill you!