Health knowledge and news provided by doctors.

Turkey facts that will amaze you

Tracy Woolrich's picture
Turkey is a good source of iron, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, potassium and B vitamins

In addition to being low in fat and high in protein, turkey is also a good source of iron, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, potassium and B vitamins.


If it were not for Thomas Jefferson, it is possible that we would be feasting on our national bird of the United States yearly at Thanksgiving. Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national bird. Thomas Jefferson would have no part of that and insisted it be the eagle. Supposedly Ben Franklin retaliated by calling the male turkey a “Tom” turkey. It is a good thing that Thomas Jefferson won out as I cannot imagine U.S. citizens carving up an icon at holiday time.

According to the National Turkey Federation, over 90 percent of Americans will feast on turkey this Thanksgiving to the tune of over 45 million turkeys. That adds up to well over 600 million pounds of turkey. Unless you are a vegetarian, you can find no better source of healthy protein.

I have used Reynolds Oven Bags to roast my turkey for years. I just open the bag, place it in a pan and fill it with turkey and vegetables. I then close it using a nylon tie and place it in the oven. The bag traps in moisture and natural juices so there is no basting. It comes out juicy and tender every time. I use the drippings for gravy after removing the fat by skimming. It is fast, easy and most definitely healthy. If you are planning on serving turkey this Thanksgiving, you are not alone.

Turkey versus chicken
The average serving of roasted skinless turkey breast will provide you with 116 calories, 1.7 grams of fat and 25 grams of protein. In comparison the same amount of skinless roasted chicken breast provided a little more calories at 142, however has nearly twice the amount of fat at 3 grams. Still both are better choices then a serving of beef tenderloin which has 281 calories, a whopping 21.6 Grams of fat and 8.5 grams protein.

Follow eMaxHealth on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Please, click to subscribe to our Youtube Channel to be notified about upcoming health and food tips.

In addition to being low in fat and high in protein, turkey is also a good source of iron, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, potassium and B vitamins. Niacin (B3) helps to facilitate the conversion of food into energy. Pyridoxine (B6) is important for proper nervous system function. Selenium is essential for metabolism and thyroid function.

Turkey is also a natural source of tryptophan. This is the amino acid that is associated with relaxation and sleep. However because the amount in turkey is so small it is now thought that it is actually the large amounts of carbohydrates ingested along with the turkey that makes you sleepy. Nothing like a roller coaster ride of glucose rush to make you tired.

Fun facts

  • November is NOT National Turkey Lovers Month. It is June. Go to figure.
  • Minnesota produces more turkeys than any other state in the U.S with farmers raising approximately 47 million turkeys annually.
  • According to the Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council, the top five most popular ways to serve turkey leftovers are: sandwiches, soups, casseroles, salads, and stir-fry.
  • Israelis eat the most turkeys in any given year at around 28 pounds per person.
  • Since 1970, turkey production in the United States has increased 300 percent. This is most likely due to the surge in turkey products such as turkey luncheon meats.
  • A 15 pound turkey is approximately 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat.
  • The turkey was first domesticated in Mexico and brought to Europe during the 16th century.
  • It is expensive to raise a turkey for market. It takes nearly 80 pounds of feed to raise a 30 pound turkey.
  • Native Americans hunted wild turkeys as early as 1000 A.D.
  • Wild turkeys sleep in trees at night and prefer oak trees.
  • Turkey got its name from Columbus who thought the land he discovered was India because of the large population of “peacocks” in the trees. He named them tuka, which is West Indian for peacock. So now you know.

Take home message
No matter what you are serving at Thanksgiving, be sure to follow safety rules that include good hand washing, proper food handling and refrigeration of left overs.

Reference: U.S. Department of Agriculture



Tofurky. Save a turkey!
Kathleen...If it were just me I would do that. No issues. I was a vegetarian for years. It is a difficult sell to my family however that includes a 19 y/o teenage boy and a stepfather who is a Marine! LOL
I know - I hate the whole Thanksgiving massacre thing the worst. I do like the taste of turkey though and it's a much better choice than other meats. I drank Wild Turkey...oh never mind..off topic. :)
Wild Turkey! LOL Yes...Myself as well. However that will be another story all together!
Shooting Wild Turkey, oh ya. I mean Wild Turkey shooters!
Boy oh boy. This article sure has changed in it's intent. Perhaps I need to write an article on Whiskey? Thanks for the comment Jan.
I knew I was going down the wrong path - Ha!
Perhaps not! LOL