We eat lots of turkey on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Americans gobble up 46 million turkeys at Thanksgiving. That works out to almost 3 pounds of poultry per person who partakes in the feast, according to statistics from the National Turkey Federation. I’ve always wondered why turkeys are the bird of choice for our annual Thanksgiving dinner, and seeing as one of our most important national holidays will be celebrated tomorrow, I thought I’d satisfy my curiosity. I also discovered, to my surprise, that there are some terrific health benefits offered by a Thanksgiving turkey.
In case you are wondering about the history of Turkey on Thanksgiving, It’s actually debatable whether Turkey was served or not during the First Thanksgiving of 1621, because colonist Edward Winslow’s account of the harvest feast at Plymouth simply mentions that pilgrims gathered “wild fowl”, which means they were just as likely to have feasted on ducks or geese as turkeys.
More than 200 years passed before turkey gained traction as the staple Thanksgiving meal. It was the rediscovery in 1856 of colonist William Bradford’s lost journal that marked the beginning of turkey becoming the Thanksgiving meal of choice. In his journal, Bradford made references to wild turkey being hunted in the fall of 1621.
This was further enshrined in American culture when President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. So there you have it! That’s how we all came to eat turkeys with our families every fourth Thursday of November.
The good news is that although we may eat a little too much each Thanksgiving, eating turkey has numerous health benefits.
Here are just a few reasons to eat turkey tomorrow:
|1. Keep Insulin Levels Stable
Turkey meat helps with stabilizing blood sugar levels because it is rich in protein. Protein also takes a relatively long time to digest, and this means that glucose absorption also slows down. That’s why some doctors recommend turkey as a good dietary choice for diabetics.
|2. Strengthen Your Immune System
A recent study has shown that tryptophan metabolites contained in turkey are effective in reducing the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease. This means there’s tangible evidence for tryptophan’s important role in immune system health.
|3. Boost Your Defense Against Cancer
Just as tryptophan helps the immune system fight off autoimmune diseases, it also stimulates T cell production. These cells are your immune system’s natural weapon for fighting off cancer. Furthermore, a trace element in the body called selenium has also been observed to kill cancer cells in various studies. While selenium takes on many different forms, the three main forms with anticarcinogenic properties are sodium selenite, L-selenomethionine, and selenium-methyl L-selenocysteine.
|4. Take in Less Saturated Fat Than Other Meats
The form of cholesterol which isn’t good for your body is called low-density lipoprotein, or LDL. Consuming too much saturated fat triggers increased LDL production in the liver. It collects in your blood vessels when consumed in excess, leaving you at greater risk of heart disease. Turkey contains significantly less saturated fat in comparison to beef or pork.
|5. Boost Your Metabolism
Turkey is a lean, complete protein ideal for building muscle and increasing metabolic function. Having a high metabolism is good for hair and nail growth and avoiding illness.
|6. Enhance Your Mood
Eating turkey on a regular basis will have a positive effect on your mood, because tryptophan increases serotonin production in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness. It is also the tryptophan that causes a tired feeling after consuming turkey.
|7. Lose Weight
Lean protein, as found in turkey meat, contains important amino acids and helps you feel fuller for longer. Replacing other meats you eat with turkey will likely see you shedding a few pounds sooner rather than later.
|8. Boost Your Energy
B vitamins are excellent for producing long-lasting energy, and turkey contains an extensive amount of them. Niacin is particularly good for converting carbohydrates, proteins and fats into efficient fuel for your body.
Bottom Line: Turkey has been a staple of the holiday season. Hope you enjoy your special day and stop and give a moment to be thankful for all the blessings we as Americans enjoy this and every day of the yeasr.