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All We Are Saying Is Give Dark Turkey Meat a Chance

PopSugar logo PopSugar 11/8/2017 Tarah Chieffi
Is Dark Turkey Meat Unhealthy? © Unsplash / Alison Marras Is Dark Turkey Meat Unhealthy?

Dark turkey meat has gotten a bad rap. It has long been touted as the less-appealing sidekick to lean, healthy white meat, but does it really deserve all the negative press it's been handed over the years? In the spirit of not judging a book by its cover, I set out to find the truth about dark turkey meat once and for all.

If you take a close look at the numbers, breast meat (or white meat) does edge out dark meat when it comes to nutritional value. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, a three-ounce serving of skinless breast meat clocks in at 125 calories, almost 26 grams of protein, and just under two grams of fat. Dark turkey meat, on the other hand, contains 147 calories, about 24 grams of protein, and just over five grams of fat.

So, yeah, technically white meat has slightly more protein, slightly less fat, and fewer calories than dark meat, but the difference is negligible unless you are planning on taking down an entire turkey (and I wouldn't recommend that). What's more, dark turkey meat often contains higher vitamin and mineral levels than white meat. Take that, turkey breast!

To me, the bigger issue with dark meat's unsavory reputation is our tendency to classify certain foods and nutrients as "good" or "bad." Because dark meat has a little more fat and a few more calories than white meat, it got smacked hard with the "bad" label, and it's stuck ever since. But calories and fat (as well as other nutrients) are neither good nor bad; they just are. It's when we obsess over them or overdo them (as often happens around the holidays) that issues can arise.

Even as a nutritionist, I would argue that Thanksgiving is one of those days that you can throw caution to the wind and enjoy a few splurges. If you're that worried about sticking to your diet on Thanksgiving, however, you'd be better off passing on stuffing, gravy, and glaze (that can add calories, fat, and sugar) than worrying over which cut of turkey meat is most virtuous.

Thanksgiving comes but once a year, so next time someone asks you, "Do you want white meat or dark?", simply choose the one you like best.

Now that you know the truth, what do you plan on loading up your plate with this Thanksgiving?

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