Turkey still a popular and healthy option for holiday season

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> COLUMBUS, Miss. — The holidays are filled with many decisions. When should the Christmas tree go up? Who will host dinner and where? What is the perfect gift to purchase your significant other? The list goes on. One menu item hardly ever debated during this time of the year: turkey.
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> For as long as many can remember, the turkey has always been the centerpiece of many holiday dining tables. Throw in some gravy, cranberries, dressing and sweet potato pie, and a nap is sure to follow. But, what makes turkey good for you?
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> “Turkey is high in protein and a good source of iron, zinc, phosphorus and potassium. Fat and calories in turkey vary: white meat is leaner than dark meat,” said Amanda Dahl, W instructor of nutrition. “The majority of fat found in turkey is in the skin, so to further reduce fat and calories, always remove the skin before eating.”
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> For healthy eating, Dahl recommends a two to three ounce serving which is about the size of a deck of cards. She also pointed out that it might not be the turkey causing individuals to miss the second half of that football game.
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> “Turkey contains the essential amino acid tryptophan, which is used in the body to make serotonin, and in turn, melatonin which controls sleep and wake cycles. It is really a myth that the tryptophan in turkey makes people sleepy,” stated Dahl. “Most people simply overeat on Thanksgiving, which requires extra energy for digestion. Also, most people are already in a relaxed state to begin with on the holiday.”
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> Food safety is always of the most importance. Dahl suggested if you purchase a frozen turkey to be sure to thaw in a refrigerator for 24 hours for every four to five pounds. The turkey should always be cooked with an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
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> Another hard decision when preparing a Thanksgiving meal is how to prepare the turkey.
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> “Roasted turkey with the skin contains 165 calories and 7 grams of fat while roasted turkey without the skin contains 140 calories and 3.5 grams of fat. Fried turkey contains 190 calories and 11 grams of fat. All per 3 ounce portions,” said Dahl. “Roasting or smoking a turkey are the healthiest ways to consume turkey.”
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> For family members who do not like turkey, don’t worry. Dahl does offer some alternatives such as roasted chicken or Cornish hens.
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> “For vegetarians or vegans, Tofurky is a popular option which is made from soy.”
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