Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner and soon many will gather together with friends and loved ones to enjoy a holiday feast. For most Americans, Thanksgiving Day is one of the few times during the year time to cook and eat a whole turkey. But for those who are looking for optimal health, consider an organic, humanely raised turkey an ideal Super Food for healthy eating year round.
Choose an organic, humanely raised turkey that is not given antibiotics and is given access to its natural habitat and diet. Poultry raised under inhumane conditions such as those reared on factory-farms are subjected to crowded living conditions and are given substandard feed. They require antibiotics, contain higher amounts of pesticides/toxins and are not healthy animals. Only organic, humanely raised turkey can truly be considered a Super Food.
First and foremost, turkey is a good source of bioavailable protein and essential amino acids. Most people know that turkey is an excellent source of the calming, sleep-inducing amino acid L-tryptophan, but how many know that turkey skin is also high in both L-glycine and L- arginine? L-glycine is an amino acid that helps promote the body’s detoxification of harmful poisons, while L-arginine promotes the health of blood vessels through the production of nitric oxide in the body. So if you love poultry skin, eat up. Just remember that turkey skin adds an extra 125 kilocalories per ounce.
Turkey is a great source of selenium—a trace mineral that is important for detoxification and for protecting red blood cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. One 4-ounce portion of roasted turkey breast contains nearly half of the RDI for this essential mineral. Turkey is also an excellent source of potassium. The average portion of turkey contains more than 300 mg of this mineral, which is so important for healthy blood pressure and for maintaining the body’s electrolyte balance. In comparison, one medium banana contains about 460 mg of the mineral, but it is also high in sugar. Turkey is a significant source of many other nutrients, including niacin, B6, zinc and iron. Dark meat provides even more nutrients than white meat, so don’t avoid the turkey legs!
Using leftover turkey bones to make a bone broth or stock adds several other important nutrients to the diet, such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. To enhance the mineral content of your stock or bone broth, add ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar to your cooking pot—it will help to draw out the minerals from the bones. Bone stock is rich in natural gelatin—an aid to digestion and a nourishing food for healthy joints. Gelatin has a long history of use as a healing food for many chronic health disorders, including arthritis, anemia and cancer. There is even some evidence that eating gelatin made from the cartilage of animals bones, such as organic, humanely raised turkey may help to prevent the spread of cancer through its ability to block angiogenesis (new blood vessel formation).
Nutrient dense, organic and humanely raised turkey provides more than just a full belly at Thanksgiving. It is a Super Food that can enhance your health by providing optimal nutrition. For the turkey’s contribution to a healthy diet, we should be very grateful.