Is a turkey really just a big chicken? Are chicken’s just the year-round turkey? Or is one nutritionally superior? Here’s the battle we’ve all been waiting for, turkey vs chicken. Check out which bird you should be cooking this holiday season.
Turkey vs Chicken
Turkey and chicken are both poultry. They’re very similar birds. Turkey is more popular around the holiday season because it’s a larger bird that feeds more people, but is it better for you?
While you can have free-range, pastured chickens and turkeys, they are still naturally grain-eaters. Birds naturally eat grains and seeds, so you’re not going to find a completely grass-fed chicken. Pastured chickens will eat more bugs (protein), and have a wider variety of nutrients. Also, the more grains they eat, the more omega-6 found in the bird. Omega-6 isn’t bad for you as long as it is kept at an even ratio with omega-3. Poultry typically contains little omega-3, so be mindful of how much omega-6 you’re getting.
Turkey has lower creatine levels than chicken. Creatine is a popular supplement to help boost muscle growth. Also, chicken has lower glucose levels. This is a minor difference but still a slight edge. However, chicken has higher non-protein nitrogen compounds. The low sugar levels are great, but the higher non-protein nitrogen compounds could be bad. They’re often ammonia, which could lead to ammonia toxicity, but you’d have to eat a lot of chicken.
Chicken is slightly higher in B vitamins. It also contains vitamin A, which isn’t found in turkeys. Turkeys are higher minerals like iron, copper, and selenium. The nutrient profile will vary slightly based on the diet of the bird, but chickens and turkey do differ in their nutrient profile.
Turkey and chicken are similar in many ways. The nutrient profile varies to a degree, but it also depends on how the bird was raised. Both have positives and negatives, but in the end, we’d say that chickens are the better choice. The higher protein and fat will be more filling. They are a better source of important vitamins, and it’s easier to find a well raised organic chicken.
Dark Meat vs White (Light) Meat
The turkey vs chicken debate has another component, dark meat vs white meat. White meat has been deemed the healthier choice because it has less than half the amount of saturated fat than dark meat. Now we know that saturated fats aren’t the enemy we thought they were. Fat can even be good for you. Fat is needed by the body to use protein. Protein alone won’t make you lean and muscular. You need good fats in your diet.
Dark meat is darker because it has more myoglobin proteins. These are the proteins that carry oxygen to the muscles. The muscles that get used more turn darker. This is why the dark meat is around the legs, and the breast meat is white. Dark meat is also a little lower in protein, but higher in fat. Dark meat would be a better choice for someone on a ketogenic diet, but go white if you’re looking for higher protein.
Both turkey and chicken are great ways to satiate your hunger this holiday season. Chicken may be slightly better, but you will get health benefits from both birds. Buy an organic free-range bird for an even healthier, more nutrient dense dish.