Turkey facts and health benefits

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Turkey facts and health benefits

Turkey Quick Facts
Name: Turkey
Scientific Name: Meleagris gallopavo
Origin North America
Colors Dark brownish-grey to blackish, with an lustrous sheen to the feathers
Shapes Length: 110 - 115 cm
Wingspan: 125 - 144 cm
Calories 135 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Lysine (60.94%)
Tryptophan (60.00%)
Histidine (54.38%)
Threonine (50.97%)
Vitamin B3 (50.47%)
Health benefits Cancer Prevention, Good for the Immune System, For Thyroid Problem, Bodybuilding, Lower Your Cholesterol and Maintain Your Brain Power, Enhances mood, Beneficial for men,Good for Diabetic, IBS, Gout, Increases Red Blood Cells, Lose Weight, Good Source of Protein, Insomnia, Pregnancy
More facts about Turkey
Meleagris gallopavo commonly known as the domestic turkey or wild turkey is one of the largest and most distinctive members of the Galliformes (a group of game birds which includes grouse, pheasants and partridges). Turkeys are large, ground-dwelling birds with long legs, long necks and large fan-shaped tails and normally 36-44 inches in length. The tip of the tail is usually chestnut-brown or white, depending on the subspecies. Generally, the wild turkey is dark brownish-grey to blackish, with an iridescent sheen to the feathers. The iridescence varies from copper, bronze and gold to green or red. Wing and tail feathers have alternating dark and light bands and the wings are rounded, with large quill-like feathers. The head and neck are usually featherless, and are covered a series of raised bumps, called ‘caruncles’, which appear more prominent on the male. The long bill is curved slightly downwards.

Male turkey is normally called a gobbler or tom and has black tips to the feathers often making it appear almost metallic black. The head and neck are usually varying shades of blue, red or white, and are adorned with fleshy growths, called wattles. The male wild turkey also has spurs on the legs, and a coarse group of bristles on the chest, forming a ‘beard’.

Female wild turkeys commonly known as hens are smaller and duller than males. Most females do not have a breast tuft. Females have a grayish head and a feathered neck. The tips of the female’s feathers are often buff, brown, grey, rusty or white, and the head is usually blue-grey, sometimes covered with small, sparse brown feathers. The hen does not usually have a ‘beard’.

Adult male turkey (or “tom”) normally weighs from 5 to 11 kg (11 to 24 lb.) and measures 100–125 cm (39–49 in) in length whereas adult female turkey (or “hen”) is typically much smaller at 2.5–5.4 kg (5.5–11.9 lb.) and is 76 to 95 cm (30 to 37 in) long. Weight may vary considerably with time of year and resource availability. They are swift runners and fast fliers. Turkeys have been recorded flying at 88.5 km/h. Wild turkeys are normally omnivorous. They mostly eat vegetable matter like acorns, nuts, seeds, buds, leaves and fern fronds. They also eat ground-dwelling insects and salamanders, which account for about 10% of their diet. The young turkey is called polts and is able to fly in three or four weeks, but they stay with their mother up to four months.

Turkey meat is sold in numerous forms, including whole, prepackaged slices, breast, thighs, mince, cutlets and tenderloin. Being nidifugous, these young chicks quickly learn how to feed themselves and leave the nest between 12-24 hours later.


Turkey is native to the forests of North America, from Mexico, throughout the mid-west and eastern United States, and into southeastern Canada. The other living species is Meleagris ocellata or the ocellated turkey, native to the forests of the Yucatán Peninsula. Wild turkeys are one of the most widely distributed game bird species in North America. They are found throughout most of the eastern United States, and in pockets throughout the western United States. They are also found in parts of northern Mexico, particularly in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Wild turkeys have been introduced to Germany and New Zealand. It is nowadays found throughout the world.

Nutritional Value

Apart from their wonderful taste, whole roasted turkey is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Consuming 85 gram of roasted turkey offers 8.075 mg of Vitamin B3, 24.7 g of Protein, 26.1 µg of Selenium, 0.547 mg of Vitamin B6, 0.8 µg of Vitamin B-12, 189 mg of Phosphorus, 2.13 mg of Zinc, 0.238 mg of Vitamin B2 and 0.808 mg of Vitamin B5. Moreover many Amino acids 0.264 g of Tryptophan, 0.897 g of Threonine, 0.708 g of Isoleucine, 1.712 g of Leucine, 2.038 g of Lysine, 0.646 g of Methionine and 0.233 g of Cystine are also found in 85 gram of roasted Turkey.

Health benefits of Turkey

Meat is actually a valuable source of protein as well as other nutrients like vitamins, iron, calcium and minerals. However, when it comes to a healthy and well-balanced diet, it’s significant to select the right kind of meat and eat that in a correct portion size. It is said that from the many meats humans love, turkey is considered to be the best and the healthiest too. By consuming a meal of turkey meat, you are providing your body with vitamins B6 and B12, niacin, choline, selenium and zinc. Along with these many components, you are also pampering your body with less calories and fats. Here are some health benefits of having turkey meat.

1. Cancer Prevention

Turkey consists of trace minerals that are supposed to aid in cancer prevention. Turkey contains selenium, which is important for the healthy function of the thyroid and immune system. Apart from that Selenium also has an essential role to play in your antioxidant defense system, helping to remove cancer-friendly free radicals in the body.

2. Good for the Immune System

This lean meat consists of amino acid tryptophan, which produces serotonin and plays an important role in strengthening the immune system. Thus, this meat helps to keep you away from common winter illnesses.

3. For Thyroid Problem

Turkey meat is extremely healthy for thyroid patients, as it has a high source of selenium that is essential for the thyroid hormone metabolism. Therefore, consume small portions of this lean meat to keep yourself healthy.

4. Bodybuilding

Many fitness experts recommend turkey for bodybuilding, particularly turkey burgers. They are rich in protein and contain a small quantity of carbohydrates and fat. A 4 ounce turkey burger has nearly 200-250 calories and 30 grams of protein which helps to build and maintain lean muscle. This helps to fulfill the daily requirement of calories and protein for a bodybuilder. Due to the additional nutrients found in turkey such as vitamins and minerals, a bodybuilder is also able to recover properly after workouts. A good intake of nutrients even helps to reduce the risk of injuries.

5. Lower Your Cholesterol and Maintain Your Brain Power

The wonderful Niacin present in turkey may help increase your HDL cholesterol, the good kind, while also helping to reduce your LDL cholesterol, the bad kind. You can’t go wrong with that! Turkey is an excellent source of B12, which helps decrease levels of homocysteine that can contribute to cognitive decline.

6. Enhances mood

Amino acids present in Turkey are responsible for making neurotransmitters and serotonin is produced from tryptophan. Serotonin assists to enhance mood and thus consuming foods like turkey can considerably enhance your mood. People with anxiety and also depression are advised to consume turkey due this particular benefit.

7. Beneficial for men

Turkey also benefits men as its high protein content assists to maintain optimal levels of testosterone. This action protects men from a weakening in sexual desire. Testosterone is also vital in ensuring that there is no bone density loss and high testosterone levels usually result in increased sexual function, particularly in old men.

8. Good for Diabetic

If you are a diabetic individual, doctors would have told you to consume small portions of non-vegetarian foods. The best health benefit of eating turkey meat is that it has low glycaemic index and therefore can help keep insulin levels stable.

9. IBS

White meat turkey is safe for ibs. However it is advisable to remove the skin before cooking. Also choose for organic turkey since it is less likely to lead to digestive problems.

10. Gout

Turkey is one of the healthiest foods, however it can be damaging for individuals with gout. Turkey comprises high amounts of purines which can trigger gout attacks. Some people with gout are able to eat turkey but cannot tolerate other purine-rich foods.

11. Increases Red Blood Cells

For women, turkey meat is extremely beneficial. It has a rich source of iron, potassium, phosphorus and zinc that help in increasing the quantity of red blood cells in our body. This in turn helps to keep the body warm during winter and safeguards you from winter sicknesses.

12. Lose Weight

A serving of turkey meat has 36% of the daily allowance of B3 and 27 percent of your recommended intake of B6. This does miracles for your metabolism and can prove to be awfully effective for those who are chronically constipated as B vitamins help peristaltic contractions, which pass waste through the intestines.

13. Good Source of Protein

Turkey benefits are so great due to the fact that this meat offers 65% of the recommended daily allowance of protein in just one serving. Infants who have behavioral disorders could lack muscle tone, it’s mainly crucial to ensure kids with developmental problems have an adequate amount of protein in their diet. Lack of protein can cause lack of energy, spiciness, jitteriness, the feeling of weakness, and poor pallor. If you are experiencing this, you could calculate your daily protein requirements by taking the weight and separating it by 2.2. – It will give you your weight in kg. Next, take the weight in kilos and then multiply by 8 and you will have your daily protein needs in grams.

14. Insomnia

Turkey meat consists of good amount of Tryptophan, which is used by the brain to produce serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which calms the mood and leads to a sense of well-being which is helpful for those who suffer from insomnia. Selenium is another nutrient found in turkey which encourages sleep and boosts immunity. Many people also eat turkey for insomnia because it contains the vitamins B3 and B6 which are helpful in controlling the condition.

15. Pregnancy

Eating turkey during pregnancy is safe. However pregnant women should avoid eating deli meats as they can lead to a type of food poisoning. Avoid eating meats that are not refrigerated properly or have passed their expiry date.


How to Store

Uncooked turkey should be kept in the coldest part of your refrigerator and can be stored for up to two days. Cooked turkey can be kept in the refrigerator for up to four days. Uncooked turkey that will not be used within 48 hours should be frozen.

Turkey Preparation Tips

To ensure the turkey you cook is perfectly safe, these are some guidelines you need to keep in mind:

  • Steady cooking is the best option.
  • Cooking at a lower temperature means cooking for long.
  • To get the best results, roast the meat at 300 degree Fahrenheit.
  • Once the oven temperature reaches 140 degree, you can increase the temperature to 400 Fahrenheit to brown the meat.
  • To make sure the meat is cooked well, you can use an instant- reading thermometer.
  • Best temperature to remove the turkey is from 155-160 degrees.
  • While testing temperatures, make sure the thermometer does not touch the bone, as you will get wrong results this way.
  • Keep the turkey in standby mode for 20 minutes so that it is done perfectly.

How to Eat

  • Replace the ground beef in chili or meatloaf with ground turkey.
  • Put some ground turkey burgers on the BBQ or grill instead of hamburgers.
  • Toss cubed leftover turkey on your favorite salad for a tasty treat.
  • Instead of chicken salad for lunch, make a turkey salad. Add almonds or walnuts for crunch and chopped apricots or raisins to up the sweetness.
  • Cut boneless turkey into cubes, marinate and create skewers of turkey and veggies to put on the grill or BBQ.
  • Try turkey cutlets for a change of taste.

Side Effects of Turkey

Turkey is a healthy food which is safe for consumption. In fact, it is often suggested for those who wish to lose weight. There may be some side effects though. Turkey health risks may arise in people who are intolerant or allergic to the meat. This may lead to abdominal cramps and pain. Some of the milder side effects of eating turkey include the following:

  • Since turkey consists of tryptophan, consuming it may lead to drowsiness. Tryptophan is an amino acid which passes into the blood from the digestive system and reaches the nervous system. It is then turned into serotonin, a neurotransmitter which can lead to a feeling of sleepiness and tiredness.
  • Consumption of deli meats should be avoided throughout pregnancy and this includes turkey. It can lead to a form of food poisoning which can be damaging for the pregnancy. Food poisoning from turkey can lead to flu like symptoms and even meningitis in severe cases. It is important to consult a doctor if such symptoms occur.
  • Weight gain can occur if turkey is consumed along with the skin. There are plenty of calories and a high amount of fat found in turkey skin. Even consuming a small piece of skin can supply your body with up to 70 calories.
  • If eaten in large quantities, turkey can lead to vomiting and a feeling of sickness. Vomiting may also occur if you eat turkey that is not cooked properly as this can lead to a stomach infection.



















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