Food Fight: White Turkey Meat Versus Dark Turkey Meat

turkeyIn response to the fear of fat that has been driven into our brains for the past few decades, many of us on Thanksgiving shun the dark turkey meat and instead pile our plates high with the white meat. But in our attempts to shave off a few calories, are we missing out on some key nutrients?

Here is a look at the benefits of white and dark meat turkey and some surprising facts that might have you and your health conscious aunt fighting for the drumstick.

Keep in mind that the serving size for the following analysis is for a three and a half-ounce serving of Thanksgiving turkey meat without skin. This eyeballs to about the size of a deck of cards.

Round One: Nutrition

Calories per serving: White meat contains 161 calories. Dark meat contains 192 calories.

Fat per serving: White meat contains 4 grams. Dark meat contains 8 grams.

Protein per serving: White meat contains 30 grams. Dark meat contains 28 grams.

Iron: White meat contains 1.57 mg. Dark meat contains 2.4 mg.

Zinc: White meat contains 2.08 mg. Dark meat contains 4.3 mg.

Thiamine: White meat contains .04 mg. Dark meat contains .05 mg.

Riboflavin: White meat contains .13 mg. Dark meat contains .24 mg.

Selenium: White meat contains 32.10 mcg.  Dark meat contains 40.90 mcg.

Folate: White meat contains .01 mcg. Dark meat contains 10 mcg.

Round Two: Taste and Leftover Potential

When it comes to taste, dark turkey meat contains an undeniably richer taste than white meat, but its higher fat content also lends itself to tasting a bit more on the slimy side, which may detract those who are hypersensitive to the texture of their food or prefer lighter-tasting eats.

In regards to their leftover potential, dark meat’s higher fat content gives it a juicier flavor and therefore protects it from suffering from the dry taste that accompanies white meat turkey once it has sat in the refrigerator for a few days. Therefore, for a sandwich, salad or soup protein-punch, dark turkey meat is the clear winner, but if you’re looking to undo some of the gluttinous Thanksgiving Day damage, then you might want to reach for the white meat to save a few calories and fat grams.

Post-Match Commentary

Drumstick-lovers rejoice! Dark turkey meat delivers a much more nutrient-dense wallop than white turkey meat. With greater amounts of vitamin B like riboflavin, thiamine and folate and minerals like iron, zinc and selenium, dark turkey meat’s sullied reputation for being too high in fat deserves to be overturned considering these impressive nutrition numbers.

When it comes to calories and fat, the difference between the two is not that signficant. In fact, dark turkey meat contains a mere 30 calories more than white meat and just an additional four fat grams. Place your fork down just one bite shy of finishing off that slice of pumpkin pie and you will have balanced out any extra calories you consumed by choosing dark meat over white.

To reap the powerful nutrition benefits of the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving meal, whichever kind of meat you select, just make sure to remove the skin and go easy on the turkey gravy. These two items tax on some serious, albeit delicious-tasting, fat and calories, so you’ll keep your dinner on the leaner side without them.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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