You may want to substitute turkey for beef the next time you eat a sandwich or a burger, believing that you are making a healthier food choice. As it turns out, this is not necessarily the case. Beef may be higher in fat and calories, but at the same time it is a better source of protein, vitamins and calcium compared to turkey. So when you have to choose between turkey and beef, remember to base the decision on your unique nutritional goals.
Turkey Vs. Beef: Calories
You might think that turkey is lower in calories than beef, but actual calorie counts in beef may be lower depending on the type of cut you choose. A three ounce piece of skinless turkey has between 110 and 140 calories, whereas the same size serving of beef has between 130 and 280 calories, depending on the fat content in your choice of cut. Fatty rib roast, for example, has a whopping 280 calories, whereas a lean shoulder steak only has 140.
Turkey Vs. Beef: Fat Content
Here turkey emerges as the clear winner. Generally, turkey is a low-fat option, with most skinless cuts not exceeding 4 grams of fat for every three ounces. Eating the skin, however, increases the fat content to 7 grams for turkey breast and 11 grams for a wing. In contrast, in the case of beef, a three ounce tenderloin has 16 grams of fat, whereas a top round cutlet has 4 grams. For a lower fat content, stick to leaner cuts such as the shoulder and flank.
Turkey Vs. Beef: Carbohydrates
Both turkey and beef are equal in this regard: both are virtually carbohydrate-free, making them equally great choices if you are watching your carbs.
Turkey Vs. Beef: Vitamins
In terms of vitamins, there is only a very slight difference between the two. Beef is a better source of vitamin B-12 which is required to regulate the functioning of the nervous system, with 2.17mcg in a 100g serving compared to only 1.3mcg in turkey. Similarly, beef is a better source of niacin, required to fuel the cells in your body, with 5.075mg compared to 4.649mg in turkey. In contrast, turkey is rich in riboflavin, also known as vitamin B-2, which is required to provide the body with energy. Turkey also contains trace amounts of vitamin A, which beef lacks.
Turkey Vs. Beef: Minerals
Both turkey and beef contain varying amount of minerals, so the kind of meat that you choose depends entirely on your nutritional requirements. Beef is richer in zinc, which is essential for the formation of insulin and enzymes in the body as well as the proper function of the immune system. Similarly, beef is also higher in iron that is needed for the development of red blood cells in the body, and potassium that helps to regulate heart function. On the other hand, turkey offers more magnesium that helps your body in digestion, and calcium for stronger bones and teeth.
Turkey Vs. Beef: Proteins
Both turkey and beef offer all of the essential proteins required by your body, differing only in terms of quantity. Both kinds of meat provide roughly equal amounts of lysine, which is essential for absorption of calcium by the bones. Turkey is a better source of tryptophan, which assists the production of niacin, whereas beef is a better source of creatine that acts as an alternative source of energy for your muscles.
Which should you choose?
There is no “correct” answer to this question. Both kinds of meat are good for you, provided you keep portion size in control. Just remember to check with your doctor before introducing any change in your diet. Happy eating!