Thanksgiving season can be a time of…we’ll say mixed emotions. On the one hand there’s the joy of seeing family; on the other hand, you may dread the enormous amounts of calorie-laden food you will have to eat for 4 days straight! If you are the health-conscious type (which we know you are), you might wonder in the back of your head: how healthy is Thanksgiving dinner really? Is any of it actually healthy? Well, there’s good news. At least one major Thanksgiving food is healthy, and it’s the star of the show. Yes, turkey is a lean protein with surprising health benefits. In today’s article we are going to cover four reasons why you needn’t dread eating that Thanksgiving bird. By the time you’re done reading, you may find yourself working turkey into regular your routine and not just on the occasional holiday feast.
1. It’s High in Protein
If you’re nutrition conscious, you probably know that not all meats are created equal. Some are not only better for you; some are also higher in protein. To give you an idea of where turkey stands, there is 14.4 grams of protein in turkey breast (3 oz. serving). That’s over half of most people’s daily requirement. Getting good protein is key for your heart and brain health, and it also can help normalize your blood sugar levels. Believe it or not, the average portion of turkey most people eat on Thanksgiving is 1.5 lbs: that’s 192 grams of protein! For perspective, that’s about as much protein as a 250 lb. bodybuilder eats every day! Remember, portion control is key.
2. Turkey Benefits Sleep
As we all know, a good night’s sleep can be hard to come by in this day and age. Well, turkey actually contains a special amino acid called tryptophan that promotes sleep. Tryptophan is a precursor to melatonin, which is a critical sleep hormone. So if you’ve ever felt sleepy after a Thanksgiving dinner, now you know why! Tryptophan has been shown in clinical studies to help with sleeplessness and actually cut down on the time it takes to fall asleep. So incorporating turkey into your diet on a regular basis could play a role in helping you get a good night’s rest. (Bonus Tip: if you want to learn more ways to improve sleep, click here.)
3. Turkey Can Help you Lose weight
It’s kind of hard to think about losing weight during the Thanksgiving season, but consider this: turkey is a lean meat–very lean. In fact, there are fewer calories in turkey breast than most other types of meat. Another reason why turkey benefits weight loss is because it can help reduce the levels of the hunger hormone, grehlin. Reduced grehlin levels can actually help lower cravings and suppress your appetite. If you’re embarking on a weight-loss journey, incorporating lean proteins should be a part of your strategy because it can help you stick to your diet. Turkey could be a part of that!
4. It’s Keto-Friendly
The keto warriors among us will be happy to know that they can eat turkey completely guilt free. The keto diet, as you may know, is a popular trend that emphasizes a low-carb, high-protein and high-fat approach to nutrition. If nothing else, turkey is one thing you can load your plate with at Thanksgiving that will fit perfectly with your keto lifestyle.
Fear Not: Thanksgiving Can Be Healthy
If you’re someone who wants to escape the holidays with your diet intact, then rest assured that turkey can stay on the menu. You might also research other healthier versions of holiday staples. There are plenty of ways to reduce fat and unnecessary calories while still maintaining the flavor of your favorite foods.