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Turkey: Food of the Week

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Food of the Week: Turkey!

It's Thanksgiving this week so let's talk Turkey! For most of us, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a turkey and its trimmings. How healthy is turkey? Is the dark meat really fattening? Does Turkey get us tired because of tryptophan?

I am asked these questions often, so let's talk turkey!

Turkey breast meat is the leanest meat! Remove the skin and 3 1/2 ounces has about 135 calories with 1 g of fat.This is even slightly less than skinned boneless chicken meat (there's plenty of fat between bone and meat not just between meat and skin!).

Dark turkey meat without skin is pretty lean too. All dark meat without skin averages about 165 calories for 3 1/2 ounces. The leg without skin for instance is about 160 calories, with about 4g of fat and the wing without skin is just slightly more (not so bad!). You're on your own with skin (what the heck, it's a holiday).

Turkey is high in protein of course along with the other nutrients that meat is known for including iron, B6, B12, niacin, zinc, and riboflavin.

So, now that we know the virtues of eating turkey, how about the tryptophan effect? Tryptophan is an amino acid that our body uses to make serotonin (the calming neurotransmitter). Turkey of course contains this relaxing mood compound, but it's because we serve high carbohydrate foods along with our turkey (remember the stuffing?), that more tryptophan reaches our brain. The effect is a calming and sleepy feeling. Let's not forget that large meals can also make us sleepy since our body expends lots of energy digesting.

So, all around, I think turkey is pretty okay!

Happy Turkey Day!


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