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Turkey Health Benefits, Nutrition

Turkey is often included in low fat diets. It has a very low fat content with just 1gram of fat per ounce of turkey flesh. Turkey benefits include reduced cholesterol levels and improved strength of the immune system. It is known for its high protein content. Turkey is also a good source of niacin, vitamin B6 and selenium.
These nutrients help in energy production and metabolism of the thyroid hormone. Selenium also serves as an antioxidant and helps to boost immunity. Turkey meat also contains potassium, phosphorus, zinc and iron. Two other important nutrients found in turkey include tryptophan and serotonin which aid in enhancing immunity. Health benefits of turkey also include balanced insulin levels. More on calories in turkey

Turkey Nutrition Facts

There are several nutrients in turkey and therefore consuming this lean meat improves health in various ways. Here are some turkey nutrition facts.
  • Each 100 grams serving of turkey contains 160 calories. 72 of these calories are contained in the fat.
  • One serving of turkey also contains vitamins B6, B12, niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.
  • Minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus and selenium are also obtained from a turkey serving.


Many fitness experts recommend turkey for bodybuilding, especially turkey burgers. They are rich in protein and contain a small quantity of carbohydrates and fat. A 4 ounce turkey burger has approximately 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.


Some health experts recommend turkey for diabetics because it helps in controlling blood sugar levels.


Turkey is one of the healthiest foods, however it can be damaging for individuals with gout. Turkey contains 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.

High Cholesterol

The amount of cholesterol in turkey depends on the darkness of the meat. Turkey breast which is white meat contains a lower level of cholesterol as compared to dark meat. Therefore, it is best to avoid dark turkey meat for high cholesterol. You can reduce the fat levels by removing the skin from turkey meat.


Tryptophan, which is found in turkey meat, 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 beneficial for those who suffer from insomnia. Selenium is another nutrient found in turkey which promotes 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.


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


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.

Upset Stomach

Some people may experience stomach trouble after eating turkey. This may be due to meat allergy or meat intolerance. Food poisoning may also be the cause of an upset stomach. In case the symptoms occur every time you eat turkey, you may be allergic to turkey. Isolated incidents of stomach cramps may be due to food poisoning. It is best to seek a doctor’s advice.

Weight Loss

It is often recommended to eat turkey for weight loss because it is rich in protein. Protein fills you up and also slows down digestion, thereby making you feel satiated long after the meal. This means that you will be less likely to overeat during your next meal. If you wish to include turkey in your weight loss diet, opt for low fat white meat turkey which is low in calories. Skinless turkey breast is also a good option. Portion size is highly important and it is advisable to eat only up to 3 ounces of turkey at a single meal.

Side Effects Of Turkey

Turkey is a healthy food which is safe for consumption. In fact, it is often recommended 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 contains 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 during 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 eating 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.

Tips for Eating Turkey:

There are no restrictions on when to eat turkey and it can be consumed in meals or as a snack. There are, however, some limitations on how much to eat, since overeating can lead to nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. Eating too much turkey can also make you feel drowsy. It is advisable to apply the 3 ounce rule when eating turkey. Three ounces of turkey is equal to a couple of slices, a lean breast, half a leg or one-third of a thigh.

  • When buying turkey, look for meat that is fresh and without blemishes. Do not buy any bird that is discolored, torn or bruised. Avoid meat that has a peculiar odor. If you are buying pre-packaged birds, make sure that the package is not torn or leaking. Frozen turkey should be checked for freezer burns which appear as brown or grey patches on the flesh. It is also important to avoid buying birds that have been injected with fat.
  • Grass-fed organic turkey is the best option as the health benefits are more as compared to birds injected with antibiotics or raised in the absence of natural pasture. It is a good idea to shop at grass-based poultry farms.
Submitted on January 16, 2014