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By Rachael Link, MS, RD
As Thanksgiving rolls around, most of us eagerly await the holiday staples, like pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. However, the real star of the show is, of course, the turkey. Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be complete without a big hunk of turkey breast sitting on your plate.
But because of its association with a holiday that encourages eating double your own weight in delicious food, many people wonder: Is turkey bad for you? And is turkey low in cholesterol, or is it loaded with extra fat and calories?
The truth is that turkey is not only delicious, but it’s actually low in calories and fat, plus high in several important nutrients — not to mention, it can be enjoyed all year-round, not just during the holiday season.
So if you’re wondering how to cook a turkey breast, how it compares to chicken and why you should incorporate this tasty bird into your diet, keep on reading to find out. Plus, make sure to check out my terrific leftover turkey recipes to get a jump-start on those post-Thanksgiving meals.
Benefits of Eating Turkey and Turkey Breast
- High in Protein
- Promotes Better Sleep
- Aids Weight Loss
- Packed with Selenium
- May Fight Depression
1. It’s High in Protein
Turkey is a good protein food, packing in 14.4 grams per three-ounce serving of turkey breast.
We need protein for just about everything. Not only are our hair, skin and nails made up of proteins, but protein also transports oxygen, aids in blood clotting, and repairs and regenerates tissue cells.
Furthermore, getting enough protein in your diet can help keep your weight under control, promote brain and heart health, and even maintain normal blood sugar levels.
2. It Promotes Better Sleep
If you’ve ever felt your eyelids drooping after indulging in a turkey feast, there’s a good reason. Turkey is high in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps regulate sleep.
Tryptophan is a precursor to melatonin, a hormone that’s involved in controlling your sleep-wake cycle. One analysis made up of 19 studies demonstrated that melatonin can increase total sleep time, reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and improve overall sleep quality. (1)
Increasing your intake of tryptophan has been shown to promote better sleep in multiple studies. It has been shown to increase sleepiness and decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, improve sleep quality in those with sleep disturbances like insomnia, reduce awakenings and increase REM sleep. (2, 3, 4)
3. It Aids in Weight Loss
Turkey is commonly associated with Thanksgiving, a holiday that involves gorging yourself on stuffing, sweet potato casserole and mashed potatoes to the point of discomfort. So, is turkey healthy for weight loss, or is turkey fattening?
Turkey meat nutrition is low in calories and high in protein, making it a great dietary addition if you’re looking to shed some pounds. A high-protein diet can help reduce levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, to sidestep…
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