Surprising Nutrition Benefits of Dark Turkey Meat

By Heather Ashare -

You might be surprised to learn that in shunning dark meat turkey at Thanksgiving, you're actually shunning some important nutrients. True, we've been told for a long time to stick to the white meat and avoid the dark meat because of the fat content, but really, the difference is so slim, especially when you look at the nutrition gain.

Take a look at the nutrition facts of white and dark meat turkey, and you'll find some surprising facts that might have you elbowing your way in to a drumstick this year.

The following information is for a 3.5 ounce serving of turkey meat without skin, a portion about the size of a deck of cards.

Calories per serving:
White meat = 161 calories
Dark meat = 192 calories

Fat per serving:
White meat = 4 grams
Dark meat = 8 grams

Protein per serving:
White meat = 30 grams
Dark meat = 28 grams

Iron per serving:
White meat = 1.57 mg
Dark meat = 2.4 mg

Zinc per serving:
White meat = 2.08 mg
Dark meat = 4.3 mg

Thiamine per serving:
White meat = .04 mg
Dark meat = .05 mg

Riboflavin per serving:
White meat = .13 mg
Dark meat = .24 mg

Selenium per serving:
White meat = 32.10 mcg
Dark meat = 40.90 mcg

Folate per serving:
White meat = .01 mcg
Dark meat = 10 mcg

Regarding the potential for leftovers, the higher fat content in dark meat means a juicier flavor that won't quickly dry out, like white meat. So a leftover turkey sandwich, salad or soup is far tastier with dark turkey meat; of course, stick to the white meat if you want to save those few calories and fat grams.

But when it comes to calories and fat, the difference between the two is almost negligible. In fact, dark turkey meat has a mere 30 calories more than white meat and only four more grams of fat. If you love the drumstick, then rejoice! Dark turkey meat is a more nutrient-dense protein source than white turkey meat. Offering more vitamin B like riboflavin, thiamine and folate, and minerals like iron, zinc and selenium, dark turkey's fatty reputation can be overlooked with these impressive nutrition stats.

Take it easy at the dessert table and you've really balanced the extra calories you might have consumed.

Whether you choose to go white meat or dark meat, you'll be better off if you remove the skin and keep gravy on the side, rather than poured on top. Both of these techniques will keep calorie and fat consumption to a minimum and effortlessly help you make this a leaner Thanksgiving dinner.

Learn more about having a healthy Thanksgiving and maintaining a healthy diet at