Everyone knows the real star of the Thanksgiving holiday is the turkey. Even outside the holidays, turkey is a popular choice for meals throughout the year, whether it’s substituted in dishes for beef or put on a sandwich or salad. Luckily, there are several reasons to feel good about eating turkey regularly. Read on for more turkey tidbits to share at your Thanksgiving dinner table this year:

It’s rich in nutrients and taste.

Turkey is known for being a better alternative to beef when you need some protein. While it may not always be healthier, turkey is still great to eat when it comes to protein and other nutrients. One 3-ounce serving contains 23 – 25 grams of protein as well as iron, niacin, potassium, choline, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, and vitamins B-6 and B-12.

Dark meat has it all.

It is not uncommon for people to have a clear stance on dark meat versus white meat when it comes to turkey. The good news it there are health benefits no matter which side you fall on. While dark meat contains more of the nutrients listed above than white meat does, it also contains more fat and calories. If you want more vitamins and minerals, choose dark meat. If you’re watching your weight or concerned about your caloric intake, head over to the white meat platter instead.

Don’t blame turkey for your sleepiness!

While many believe that tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey, is the culprit of those holiday naps, that’s actually a myth. Turkey has no more tryptophan than other meats like pork or chicken. The real reason for that oh-so-common post-Thanksgiving dinner slumber is general over-indulgence, especially in foods high in carbohydrates and adult beverages.

Sometimes, turkey can get too salty.

Like many other foods, when turkey is overly processed it can become unhealthy. Turkey in the form of hot dogs, burgers, sausage, bacon, and deli meat has generally been packed with preservatives and salt. That means those items are usually high in sodium, which can cause high blood pressure (high blood pressure increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, osteoporosis, as well as certain cancers).

Your sidekick for cold and flu season.

When integrated regularly into your diet, turkey can help to boost your immune system thanks to minerals like potassium and selenium. Not only is turkey delicious to eat, but these nutrients will help you fight off many of the viruses and infectious bacteria that are commonly spread by coughing and sneezing throughout the colder months – especially when more people are gathering together around the holidays.

Skin (in moderation) for the win.

Like all poultry, the least healthy part of turkey to consume is - you guessed it - the skin, as it contains high amounts of fat and calories. However, you don’t need to feel too guilty about eating a small portion, since more of the fat is monosaturated rather than saturated (which means more of it is a healthy fat). However, it still isn’t healthy to eat too much skin. Fortunately, it is easy to remove and avoid – plus, skinless turkey meat is just as tasty.

Feel great, look great.

As noted, turkey meat is packed with plenty of vitamins and minerals. Included in these is phosphorus, which aids in the development, strengthening, and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, which is beneficial for everyone, especially those suffering from osteoporosis. Additionally, maintaining a nutrient-rich diet helps your skin stay fresh and healthy – so why not get some of those nutrients from turkey?

No wonder turkey has become a go-to for holiday feasts! What is your favorite way to eat turkey?

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