Roasted turkey is a classic protein option. Whether you prefer light or dark meat, it can be a tasty and nutrient-dense addition to any holiday meal.
A 3-ounce serving of roasted turkey is packed full of zinc, important for wound healing and boosting immunity, and vitamin B6 and selenium for your metabolism.(1-4) Turkey also has niacin, which may promote healthy blood flow, and phosphorus for bone health.(5, 6)
It’s a common misconception that you should only enjoy skinless, light meat turkey to get the most health benefits. Although light meat has less fat and calories, dark meat tends to be higher in certain nutrients like zinc and selenium. And the skin contains some saturated fat but also packs heart-healthy fats, protein and important nutrition.
Some pre-cooked turkeys and sliced deli turkey may contain added salt to preserve them and enhance flavor. If you’re watching your sodium intake, make note of the sodium content of the turkey you’re buying. And for more info about reducing the sodium in your diet, check out our article about Added Salt.
(1) USDA Food Composition Databases
(2) Roohani N, Hurrell R, Kelishadi R, Schulin R. Zinc and its importance for human health: An integrative review. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences: The Official Journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. 2013;18(2):144-157.
(3) Roman M, et al. Selenium biochemistry and its role for human health. Metallomics. 2014 Jan;6(1):25-54. doi: 10.1039/c3mt00185g.
(4) Hellmann H, et al. Vitamin B6: A Molecule for Human Health?. Molecules 2010, 15(1), 442-459; doi:10.3390/molecules15010442
(5) Bays HE, Rader DJ. Does nicotinic acid (niacin) lower blood pressure? International Journal of Clinical Practice. 2009;63(1):151-159. doi:10.1111/j.1742-1241.2008.01934.x.
(6) Takeda E, Yamamoto H, Yamanaka-Okumura H, Taketani Y. Dietary Phosphorus in bone health and quality of life. Nutr Rev. 2012;70(6):311-21.