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TurkeyTurkey is usually associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas. The bird is served with an array of condiments and stuffing, including creamed asparagus tips, cranberry sauce, gravy, olives, pickles and potatoes. This bird has transcended geographical and cultural borders and now is available in Pakistan, especially during the festive season.

Other than being synonymous with celebration, there are several good reasons to eat turkey:

  • Turkey meat falls into a group of high-protein foods (including tuna and egg whites) that can help keep post-meal insulin levels within a desirable range. The light cuts of turkey meat (breast cut) are lean and low in fat, while the darker parts are high in fat.
  • Along with chicken, turkey has emerged as a food believed to lower the risk of pancreatic cancer; to reap the benefits it should be consumed without the skin which is high in fat.
  • In addition to the omega-3 fats which promote healthy nerve function, turkey contains all B vitamins (including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, biotin, choline and folate) which are essential for energy production.
  • Turkey is a good source of selenium, a mineral which helps boosts immunity, acts as an antioxidant and is essential for thyroid hormone metabolism. Other essential minerals found in turkey include copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc that the body requires to remain healthy.
  • The amino acid tryptophan present in turkey produces serotonin, which helps strengthen the immune system and is essential for growth in infants and for nitrogen balance in adults.

However, do exercise moderation when you consume turkey if you suffer from interstitial cystitis and are prone to migraines; tryptophan and serotonin are known to aggravate the symptoms of these ailments, as well as histamine, which can trigger skin infections such as rosacea.

– Dr Samia Babar.
The writer is Director, Health Awareness Society.

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on December 22, 2013.

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