When you want to change your eating habits to improve your health, chicken and turkey are popular options among health buffs. These two meats are known for their protein content, nutrition, and flavor.
Both are versatile and available at most supermarkets. Plus, they’re easy to prepare and cook. They’re often mentioned alongside one another as healthy choices but between the two, is chicken or turkey healthier? Let’s find out.
What You Should Know About Chicken
From fried chicken, nuggets, and roasts, most people grew up loving chicken. According to the USDA, Americans consume an average of 96.8 pounds of chicken annually — that’s twice the amount compared to pork and beef.
Almost all parts of the chicken can be cooked and served in numerous ways. But if you want the healthiest part of the chicken, you’ll want to load up on chicken breasts.
Chicken breasts are a good source of protein while having minimal calorie and fat content. One ounce of chicken breast is equivalent to around nine grams of protein, a gram of fat, and 46 calories. In addition, the nutritional value of the poultry as a whole contains niacin, selenium, phosphorus, and vitamin B6. Here are other benefits of eating this meat:
• It helps build your muscles.
• It promotes a healthier heart.
• It boosts your brain function thanks to its vitamins and minerals.
• It strengthens your bones.
• It helps with weight loss.
• It lowers your risk of developing diabetes.
• It provides you with your daily protein needs.
• It supplements most of your amino acid requirements.
• It aids in a well-rounded diet.
• It helps maintain a lean body mass.
Baked, grilled, poached, and boiled chicken are the healthiest methods of preparation. The way you prepare your chicken dish can make all the difference when it comes to maximizing its benefits and ensuring that the calories and fat that end up on your plate are minimized.
If you have to choose just one cooking method, however, poaching is the healthiest because it only uses water. No other ingredients that might alter its nutritional value or add unnecessary fat and calories are needed. Additionally, chicken is a household staple because you can do so much with this meat. It can work seamlessly with all — if not most — ingredients.
What You Should Know About Turkey
When it comes to chicken alternatives, turkey is the best choice. The turkey is always associated with Thanksgiving, but it is the kind of meat you can gobble throughout the year.
Compared to American’s annual consumption of chicken (96.8 pounds), turkey isn’t far behind at 92 pounds per person each year. Unlike chicken which is consumed more regularly, the bulk of turkeys are eaten during winter holidays.
When you compare the nutritional value of turkey with chicken, its calories, protein, and fat content are almost similar. However, turkey has fewer calories, cholesterol, and fat.
The key to eating turkey healthily is to avoid eating the skin. Its meat alone is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals with hardly any fat. Some of the nutrients you can get from this low-glycemic food are niacin, vitamins B12 and B6, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, riboflavin, and potassium.
Other advantages of incorporating turkey into your diet include:
• It strengthens your overall immunity.
• It contains tryptophan, an amino acid that enables protein production.
• It helps your endocrine system function.
• It maintains your hormone levels.
• It supports the MIND diet (a combination of the Mediterranean and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diets)
• It minimizes one’s risk for certain cancers like bladder, breast, and stomach cancer.
• It aids in controlling sugar.
• It boosts the level of good cholesterol in your body.
• It contributes to better joint health and flexibility.
• It improves your serotonin level.
Similar to chicken, the way you prepare turkey can also impact its nutritional benefits. The healthiest way to eat it is roasted and without the skin. You should also consume fresh turkey instead of a processed one. To make your meal even healthier, serve it with roasted or boiled vegetables.
Chicken Vs. Turkey: Which Is Healthier?
We’ve now come to the heart of the matter — is chicken or turkey healthier? Chicken and turkey are both excellent sources of protein. They’re also healthier options, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
But between the two, chicken contains more cholesterol, calories, and fat though the difference is minimal. As far as sodium content is concerned, turkey has higher sodium levels.
Other key differences between chicken and turkey are:
#1. Taste and Texture
Chicken has a subtler flavor while turkey is tastier. Turkey can be described as having a gamier and juicier taste compared to chicken. When it comes to texture, turkey is denser than chicken.
Chicken is definitely more readily available and can be purchased throughout the year. Chicken is also a staple meat whether you’re craving Mexican, Chinese, Indian, or any other international cuisine. Turkey, on the other hand, is more seasonal and popular when it comes to deli meats.
Since chicken has a more generous and steady supply than chicken, it’s more affordable than turkey. In terms of cost, it doesn’t help that turkey is heavily promoted during the holidays when prices tend to go up. Given turkey meat’s size and supply, it is definitely more expensive.
A Few Parting Words
Is chicken or turkey healthier? Since the difference in nutritional value is minimal, the choice mainly depends on personal preferences. Both are healthy and versatile protein sources for sandwiches, salads, casseroles, and stews. Chicken and turkey can also be prepared through several methods, with roasting, grilling, and baking being healthier cooking techniques.
Whether you’re consuming the breast, thigh, leg, or wing, both provide B vitamins, zinc, and selenium. They’re equally healthy options, so other considerations like taste, affordability, and availability will most likely be your deciding factors. Here’s the bottom line — you can incorporate both into your diet if you want delicious and healthy meals year-round.