Turkey in diet – nourishment. Why, when and how should we eat it?

Turkey meat is, according to experts, a source of proteins and a group of vitamins and minerals essential for human organism. What else can we gain by introducing turkey into our diet? Let us take a look.

Krůtí maso ve stravě
Krůtí maso ve stravě

Meat is an important component of human diet. It provides our organisms with ingredients that an entirely plant-based diet cannot, such as vitamins A, B2 and B12, calcium, iron and zinc (more information on that topic can be foundt in an article “Chemical Composition and Nutritional Content of Raw Poultry Meat”:  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228013211_Chemical_Composition_and_Nutritional_Content_of_Raw_Poultry_Meat). A vegetarian diet can be properly balanced, however in order to receive proper nutrition one should consult a doctor, to avoid deficit of aforementioned elements, which could exert negative effects on our organisms.

It is no surprise that meat is one of essential figures in our diet, as shown in the „Pyramid of healthy nutrition and physical activity” prepared by National Food Institute, which consonciates experts in the field of nutrition (source: https://ncez.pl/abc-zywienia-/zasady-zdrowego-zywienia/piramida-zdrowego-zywienia-i-aktywnosci-fizycznej-dla-osob-doroslych). Meat is a main source of proteins which is a basic building material of our organism, necessary for its metabolic processes as well as its vital energy source.

As stated in “Nutritional standards for Polish population” (source: https://ncez.pl/upload/normy-net-1.pdf), which has also been prepared by the expers of NFI, meat is one of proper sources of so-called balanced proteins, which contain all necessary amino acids (this is a building material of proteins). In comparison to those, proteins of plant origin are unsaturated as they lack all of essential amino acids.

Turkey in diet – nourishment

How much protein is there in turkey meat? The article by Monika Michalczuk and Anna Siennicka of Warsaw University of Life Sciences, “Dietary properties of different kinds of poultry bred in alternative farming systems” (source: http://ph.ptz.icm.edu.pl/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/8-Michalczuk.pdf), turkey breast or leg should countain about 19 g of protein (in 100 g of meat), whileas its carcass meat contains about 17 g (in 100 g).

Turkey meat contains less saturated fatty acids, unfavorable for human health (in contrary to unsaturated fatty acids of plant or fish origin). A positive ratio of unsaturated fatty acids to saturated ones in turkey meat is 0.8. Turkey legs contain more fat than breast (it is also easier to dispose of as in this case, fat is stored right beneath the skin). Because of low amount of saturated fatty acids, poultry meat, including turkey, is advised as dietary food.

Poultry and especially turkey meat is also source of B vitamins. According to Dr Jorge Soriano, biotechnologist of Mexican Metropolitan Autonomous University, (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, source: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228013211_Chemical_Composition_and_Nutritional_Content_of_Raw_Poultry_Meat), turkey meat is a source of vitamin B3 (niacin), B6 and B12. They are crucial to numbers of processes in human organism, such as synthesis of fatty acids, cholesterol and hormones.

Turkey meat is also rich with minerals. According to Dr Soriano, it is an excellent source of zinc, which is needed in protein transition and hormone synthesis, as well as supporting the immune system. According to National Food Institute, zinc of animal product origin is more assimilable.

Turkey in diet. Which diets benefit from its meat?

Its contents, such as proteins, fat, vitamins and minerals make turkey meat suitable for a wide range of diets. It can also be served in early stages of life. It is among the first kinds of meat we can serve to our children in the first stages of diet changes between the 4thand the 7thmonth of life (according to guidelines of Polish Associacion of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Child Nutrition, source: https://ptp.edu.pl/files/Standardy_Medyczne_2014_Zalecenia_ywienia_.pdf.

Turkey meat (skinned fillet) is also recommended in many cases of light diets, like during a chronic diarrhea, excess of intestinal gases and constipation. Because of its low fat content, turkey is also recommended to people struggling from various illnesses, such as reflux, cardiac arrest aftermath, hypothyreosis, RA, fatty liver disease and during treatment for asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This kind of meat is also recommended in senior diet.

Turkey in diet. How should it be prepared and served?

While serving turkey, let us not forget the basics of nutrition in order to receive a well balanced meal. An adequate dose for those maintaining low physical activity is 1600 kcal (women) and 2000 kcal (men), divided into 4-5 meals on a single day. Of course, the dosage may be increased according to needs caused by growing intensity of trainings, however the amount of meals should remain unchanged.

Our main source of energy should be carbohydrates (about 50-70 percent of daily need energy requirement), fat (about 20-35 percent of daily requirement) and protein in amount of 1 g per 1 kilogram of body mass.

It is for the best that every meal consisted of a mixture of these elements. Since the base for our diet (according to NFI guidelines) should consist of fruits and vegetables, we should eat them accordingly, – an agreeable amount is half of our plate. Complex carbohydrates are another vital element, eg. Wholegrain pasta and bread. Finally, proteins from, for example, turkey meat. All of this should be supplemented with fats coming from such products as olive oil, nuts or seeds.

It is worth considering that turkey may be served for other meals than just dinner.According to World Health Organization (source: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-on-the-carcinogenicity-of-the-consumption-of-red-meat-and-processed-meat), we ought to limit fried and grilled products when the meat had contact with fat or hot surfaces. These means of preparation might result in formation of numbers of potentially risky substances, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)kodliwych dla zdrowia substancji, takich jak wielopierścieniowe węglowodory aromatyczne (WWA) i heterocyclic aromatic amines. It is a healthy concern to boil your turkey meat, stew it in stock, or bake it (for instance, in a casserole so that the meat will not dry out). Baked and cooled down turkey fillet (skinned and seasoned with herbs) is a homemade lunch meat to be used in a sandwitch or salad.

Turkey meat – how to buy and where to store it?

Shopping should be the last step we take before heading home. That is because we should not keep cold meat away from refrigerator for longer than half an hour (especially in hot days). Right after coming home, the first thing we should do is to put our meat in a refrigerator. How long can it be stored? The United States Department of Agriculture has answered this question below (source: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/poultry-preparation/food-safety-of-turkeyfrom-farm-to-table/ct_index). Just take a look at the table.

Turkey meat typeRefrigerating storage time (2-4 Celsius degrees)Freezer storage time (-18 to -26 Celsius degrees)
Whole turkey (raw)1 or 2 days12 months
Turkey fragments (raw), eg. breast or leg1 or 2 days9 months
Minced turkey and pluck1 or 2 days3 to 4 months
Whole turkey after heat processing3 or 4 days4 months
Turkey dishes3 or 4 days4 to 6 months (shorter if high-fat)
Turkey stock or sauce3 or 4 days2 to 6 months
Turkey cold cutUnopened – up to 2 weeks (or as stated on the packaging)Opened – 3 to 5 days (or as stated on the packaging)1 to 2 months