Let’s Talk Turkey

chili

 

Ever throw turkey burgers on the grill because you think they’re automatically healthier than regular burgers? Ever make turkey chili to appease a spouse who’s trying to lose weight? If you substitute ground turkey for ground beef in order to reduce the fat in your diet, but you also need to be concerned about calories, sodium, and cholesterol, you may not be making the best choice.

These days, general wisdom assumes that any white meat is healthier for you than red meat. Let’s see if a nutritional comparison supports that wisdom(1):

 

 

Ground Turkey 3oz, cooked                        Ground Beef 90% Lean 10% Fat                   Ground Beef 85% Lean 15% Fat

200 calories                                                     148 calories                                                           181 Calories

50% fat, 50% protein, 0% carbs                     51%fat, 49% protein, 0%carbs                      63%fat, 37% protein, 0%carbs

Total Fat 11.18g = 17%                                      Total Fat 8.4g=13%                                              Total Fat 12.6g=19%

    Saturated Fat 2.883 = 14%                              Saturated Fat 3.409g=17%                                Saturated Fat 4.927g=25%

Polyunsaturated Fat 2.747g                             Polyunsaturated Fat .389g                                Polyunsaturated Fat .364g

Monounsaturated Fat 4.159g                         Monounsaturated Fat 3.657g                        Monounsaturated Fat 5.506g

Cholesterol 87mg = 29%                                  Cholesterol 55mg=18%                                   Cholesterol 57mg = 19%

Sodium 91mg = 4%                                          Sodium 55 mg 2%                                             Sodium 55 mg=2%

Potassium 230mg                                              Potassium 270mg                                            Potassium 248mg

      Total Carbs 0%                                            Total Carbohydrate 0%                                      Total Carbohydrate 0%

Dietary Fiber 0g                                                Dietary Fiber 0%                                                   Dietary Fiber 0%

Sugars 0g                                                             Sugars 0G                                                                  Sugars 0G

Protein 23.27g                                                      Protein 16.8g                                                         Protein 16.25g

Vitamin A 0                                                          Vitamin A 0                                                           Vitamin A 0

Vitamin C 0                                                           Vitamin C 0                                                           Vitamin C 0

Calcium 2%                                                           Calcium 1%                                                            Calcium 1%

Iron 9%                                                                 Iron 10%                                                                 Iron 10%

The first thing you may observe is that all beef blends are not created equal.  Because the cost of leaner beef tends to be higher than either less lean beef or turkey, we must also factor in cost.  If budget is your primary concern, ground turkey is probably your best bet.

If your budget allows you to purchase leaner beef, then there are other factors to consider. Three ounces of ground turkey contains more calories and total fat grams than three ounces of 90% lean ground beef. The turkey also contains twice the sodium, a bit less iron and potassium, and 10% more cholesterol. Surprisingly, ground beef has fewer calories than turkey, but that’s partially because it has fewer grams of protein per ounce.

It seems the best conclusion we can draw is that your personal priorities will determine whether beef or turkey is healthier for you. If you need to limit sodium and cholesterol and reduce calories, choose the leanest beef you can afford. If you want to limit overall fat, then turkey is a better choice. Turkey is also a good choice when you want to increase the protein in your diet without increasing the saturated fat. Turkey will also be easier on your pocketbook…which can reduce stress…which can increase your health.

Now that you’re informed, you can enjoy your burger knowing you’ve made the very best choice for you whether you choose beef or turkey!

 

1)”Ground Turkey (Cooked).” Calories in and Nutrition Facts. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2012. <http://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/usda/ground-turkey-(cooked)>.

Author: Cheri Thriver

Hello, Cheri Thriver here blogging about cooking, thriving, and the intersection of the two. I’ve been living a gluten-free lifestyle for over 15 years. I understand that it’s rarely a lack of knowledge or the availability of appropriate food that keeps us from making healthy choices. More often than not, it’s an emotional connection, previous trauma, or fear of social reprisal that keeps us stuck. My wish is that you’ll find something here that informs, entertains, or inspires you to change anything that needs to be changed for you to live fully and thrive.

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