If you’re watching your waistline and looking for lean alternatives, don’t ditch beef this holiday season. Chances are your Thanksgiving turkey is already thawing for the big day tomorrow, and perhaps you think a lean turkey breast is going to be the guiltless part of your big family dinner that might include sugary goodies like pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce. But, don’t think turkey is your only healthy option.
Is turkey healthier than beef? Let’s take a look at both choices.
The Huffington Post recently featured Ellie Krieger, nutritionist and host of The Cooking Channel’s “Healthy Appetite.” Krieger clarified a common misconception on animal proteins. She says that lean ground beef can be just as healthy as lean turkey. She also said that when you're cooking, it's best to choose meat that is 90% lean or higher.
“I think it’s a misconception that people automatically think that a turkey burger is better than a beef burger, and that’s not correct,” says Krieger. “If you get ground beef that is 90% lean or higher, you are going to be getting meat that is just about as lean as turkey, although turkey can get up to 99% lean. But, sometimes, turkey has the skin ground into it, so it’s more fatty.”
Cooking Light magazine agrees. In its article, “The Most Common Nutrition Mistakes,” swapping ground turkey for ground beef to save fat is listed as mistake number four on the list.
“Mistake 4: You trade ground turkey for ground beef in recipes to save saturated fat. Result: Unless you’re careful, not much savings over lean beef. Turkey breast is lean, but dark meat isn’t, and some ground turkey contains both. A quarter-pound of regular ground turkey contains 3 g saturated fat. Compare that to only 2.5 g in the same amount of sirloin. Ground turkey breast, on the other hand, has just half a gram of saturated fat, so the right cut of turkey is a significant fat-cutter. What to do: Read the label; buy the lean.”
Fit Sugar, an online nutritional website, offers a side-by-side comparison of these two proteins, which shows that turkey burgers are actually higher in cholesterol and sodium, and that beef is actually higher in nutrients such as calcium, protein and potassium.
If lean is your thing, don’t assume you have to stick to that dry turkey breast this holiday season. Look for 90% lean ground beef or one of the 29 lean cuts of beef to star at the center of your dinner menu.
What’s your favorite way to include lean beef in your diet? What are your Thanksgiving plans?