11.24.2009

Turkey: White Meat vs. Dark Meat

I have always liked the dark turkey meat much more than the white stuff.... but in recent years I have opted for more of the white stuff because the bad rap that the dark turkey meat has.  So I was curious as to why the dark meat has got the bad rap?  
First, we need to understand why their is both white and dark meat in the turkey. Well since turkeys don't fly much, their legs and thighs are the their primary mode of transportation.  So the muscles of the legs and thighs are full of myoglobin proteins , which ship oxygen to the muscle cells so the turkeys can run around all day and not get tired. These myoglobins make the flesh darker.


Now we know why it appears darker......  what are the nutritional differences??

Well overall turkey is a great source of low-fat protein and nutrients, whether it is dark or light.  
When comparing dark vs light nutritionally here is the comparison: 


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Dark meat contains about twice as much riboflavin and zinc than white meat. They also usually contain more heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. It is the saturated fat content which lowers the true quality of dark meat that most people worry about.  


But I found that per one ounce....... dark meat only has about ~10 more calories and a little over 1 gram of fat more when compared to one ounce of the white meat.  So although the dark meat is slightly higher in calories and fat, the benefits that it contains don't really make that big of a difference.  So go ahead and grab for the drumstick on occasion. 


*I believe that it is more important to avoid the skin.... this is where the majority of the fat is. So eat up on the turkey while avoiding the skin. 

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