is turkey better for you than beef

The Bottom Line

If you’re eating for a healthy heart, lean ground turkey—which is lower in saturated fat—is the better pick for you. Of course, you can still enjoy ground beef from time to time, but choosing lean ground turkey more often will help your heart in the long run.

Which is healthier, ground turkey or ground beef? Most people will tell you ground turkey, and they’re not wrong per say. But is it really that much healthier?

First, when comparing one meat to the other, you must level the playing field and compare the two using the same number of ounces and the same ratio of lean-to-fat. This lean-to-fat ratio is the percentage of lean meat versus the percentage of fat. For instance, 93/7 means 93 percent of the meat is lean, while 7 percent is fat. When comparing USDA’s data on a 4-ounce serving of 93/7 ground beef to 4 ounces of 93/7 ground turkey, the nutrition panel is surprisingly similar. Ground beef has 172 calories, 7.9 grams fat and 3.3 grams saturated fat versus ground turkey, which has 170 calories, 9.4 grams fat and 2.5 grams saturated fat. Ground beef has 2.4 grams more protein and has slightly less cholesterol and more iron and zinc than ground turkey.

All in all, whether buying ground beef or ground turkey, the important thing is to buy at least 93/7 lean-to-fat ratio. Lowering saturated fat is the goal, as eating too much saturated fat can raise LDL cholesterol, increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke. Ground turkey does have less saturated fat, but only by 0.8 grams, and if you’re adding egg, salt or cheese for flavor and moisture, it’s not making it any heart healthier.

In a small bowl, whisk lime juice, fish sauce, sriracha, soy sauce and honey and set aside. In a large skillet, heat sesame and vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add onion and bell pepper slices; cook for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, stirring for about 45 seconds. Remove veggies to a bowl. Add ground turkey to skillet and heat, breaking it apart as it cooks, until turkey cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165F. Add the vegetables, basil and sauce to the turkey, cooking 2-3 minutes. Serve warm.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 150 calories, 8 grams fat, 450 milligrams sodium, 8 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 17 grams protein

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Smith is a Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. Smith uses her experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist to deliver impactful information and cutting-edge programs to Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties and beyond.

What is the Healthiest Meat?

Hueschen recommends choosing lean cuts of meat and poultry to help reduce saturated fat in your diet. This can also help you reduce calories to lose weight.

“To choose lean cuts of meat, look for the words ‘loin’ or ‘round.’ These tend to signify leaner cuts. Also, choose cuts with the least amount of marbling, and trim fat before cooking. If you’re having poultry, like chicken, remove the skin,” Hueschen says.

Its common to think red meat is bad for you, but Hueschen says it does contains a variety of nutrients, including protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc, which are all good. Along the same lines, meat replacements, such as mushrooms and tofu, have high protein content and can provide a good source of protein.

“Meat replacements can certainly be an option and incorporated into an overall balanced diet. Read and compare labels to help make the best choice for you,” Hueschen says.

Overall, the daily recommended protein varies depending on a person’s age, gender, activity level, medical conditions and other factors. Recommended daily protein intakes based on Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for adults are:

  • Women ages 19-51+ = 46 gm/day
  • Men ages 19-51+ = 56 gm/day

*For reference, one egg contains 6 grams of protein, whereas one cup of chicken breast has 43 grams. To make sure you’re getting a good source of protein, Hueschen says, “Nutrients provided by various types of protein foods differ, so I encourage people to get their protein from a variety of sources. This can include seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds and soy products.”

For more information on what types of foods are right for your health, talk to your doctor.

In a small bowl, whisk lime juice, fish sauce, sriracha, soy sauce and honey and set aside. In a large skillet, heat sesame and vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add onion and bell pepper slices; cook for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, stirring for about 45 seconds. Remove veggies to a bowl. Add ground turkey to skillet and heat, breaking it apart as it cooks, until turkey cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165F. Add the vegetables, basil and sauce to the turkey, cooking 2-3 minutes. Serve warm.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Smith is a Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. Smith uses her experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist to deliver impactful information and cutting-edge programs to Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties and beyond.

All in all, whether buying ground beef or ground turkey, the important thing is to buy at least 93/7 lean-to-fat ratio. Lowering saturated fat is the goal, as eating too much saturated fat can raise LDL cholesterol, increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke. Ground turkey does have less saturated fat, but only by 0.8 grams, and if you’re adding egg, salt or cheese for flavor and moisture, it’s not making it any heart healthier.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 150 calories, 8 grams fat, 450 milligrams sodium, 8 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 17 grams protein

Which is healthier, ground turkey or ground beef? Most people will tell you ground turkey, and they’re not wrong per say. But is it really that much healthier?

Ground Turkey vs. Ground Beef

Surprisingly, Hueschen says there aren’t major nutritional differences between ground turkey and beef.

“The nutrition panel (calories, sodium, cholesterol, etc.) for ground turkey and ground beef is very comparable, as long as you select the same ratio of lean to fat,” Hueschen says.

This ratio is the percentage of lean meat vs. the percentage of fat. For example, “93/7” means 93 percent lean meat and 7 percent fat. The lower the fat content, the less saturated fat you’ll consume.

To help reduce consuming extra fat from both ground turkey and ground beef, Hueschen recommends these options:

  • Drain grease from the pan
  • Rinse meat with hot water once done cooking
  • Blot meat with a paper towel to absorb remaining grease

As far as a difference in taste, Hueschen says it’s only slight, and depending on how you use it, you might not even notice – meaning it’s possible to make ground turkey taste like beef.

“You’re more likely to notice the different taste between ground turkey and ground beef if the meat is the primary feature, such as a burger patty, versus in a casserole. Most people can’t tell the difference in mixed dishes,” Hueschen says.

Price-wise, ground turkey and ground beef can vary widely by store, brand and the product itself. She encourages comparing prices and selecting the best option for you and your family.

The Bottom Line If you’re eating for a healthy heart, lean ground turkey—which is lower in saturated fat—is the better pick for you. Of course, you can still enjoy ground beef from time to time, but choosing lean ground turkey more often will help your heart in the long run.

FAQ

Is turkey healthier then beef?

Turkey is generally lower in saturated fat than beef. As such, it may be a better choice for heart health. Fat-free turkey is also the lowest calorie option if you’re interested in weight loss. However, if your main goal is flavor, ground beef may outshine turkey in some dishes.

Is turkey healthier than chicken and beef?

For the most part, turkey is one of the healthiest meat options available. It’s very similar to skinless chicken in terms of its healthy nutritional properties. Both are sources of low-fat, heart-healthy meats. Lean options — like turkey — are always a healthier choice than red meats.

Is it healthier to eat turkey?

Research suggests that regularly eating turkey can help to reduce cholesterol levels and improve heart health by helping to regulate blood pressure levels in the body. This can lead to lower heart disease or stroke risk over time.

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