Turkey shouldn’t just be for Christmas – it really has some amazing health benefits

Turkey remains the nation’s first choice for Christmas. Around eight out of 10 families sat down to the festive favourite with all the trimmings.

And I have to say I wholeheartedly approve. Turkey has so many health benefits I hardly know where to start. Here are just a few:

It is a rich source of protein and without the skin, it’s low in fat too.

White turkey meat is lower in calories and has less fat than dark meat. Typically, turkey is 2/3 white and 1/3 dark meat.

The meat is also a source of iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus, as well as vitamin B6 and niacin, which are both essential for the body’s energy production.

Regular consumption can help lower cholesterol levels too. The meat is low-GI and can help keep insulin levels stable.

Turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, which produces the brain mood enhancer serotonin and plays an important role in strengthening the immune system.

It is also rich in selenium, which is essential for thyroid hormone metabolism. It’s a powerful antioxidant and mops up free radicals.

Eighty-five grams of roasted turkey breast contains around 125 calories, whereas the same amount of dark meat contains around 150.

But the dark meat contains more vitamins and minerals. Turkey benefits begin to show up shortly after eating it.

Why do you think we snooze after Christmas lunch? It’s all down to the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor to certain brain hormones, such as serotonin, as well as melatonin.

Both have a relaxing effect. Melatonin, the sleep hormone, regulates and resets your body clock.

Turkey packs quite a punch of protein, offering a whopping 32g of protein per 4oz (113g) serving – over 65% of your daily requirement.

Plus, niacin in turkey may help increase your HDL cholesterol, the good kind, while helping to reduce your LDL cholesterol, the bad kind.

The meat is an excellent source of B12, which helps decrease levels of homocysteine that may lead to cognitive decline.

A serving of turkey meat has a third of your daily needs of vitamins B3 and B6, both needed for good health.

As it’s high in zinc, phosphorus, tryptophan, selenium and protein, and low in saturated fat and cholesterol, turkey is marvellous as a main part of your healthy eating plan.

It may even play a role in cancer prevention.

So having made turkey the centrepiece of your Christmas dinner, make sure you make the most of the leftovers in the days that follow.

And carry on cooking it, carving it and reaping its nutritional benefits.