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The 2013 animated movie "Free Birds" tells the story of two turkeys who time-travel back to 1621, just before the first-ever Thanksgiving. Their mission: prevent the most fowl of crimes and remove turkey from the holiday menu.

Didn't work: Americans eat around 51.6 million turkeys on Thanksgiving Day! The rest of the year we're chowing down on turkey burgers and highly processed turkey bacon, jerky, sausage and cold cuts to the tune of about 16.3 pounds of turkey per person.

Now, while fresh-roasted, skinless turkey is lower in saturated fat, calories and cholesterol than red meats, and rich in zinc, B vitamins and selenium, when it becomes a processed meat you are gobbling up a lot of bad-for-you ingredients.

Turkey bacon usually contains saturated-fat-rich dark meat and skin and preservatives, potentially cell-damaging artificial liquid smoke flavor, bad-for-you nitrates and vegetable oil.

Turkey sausage may have half the fat and calories of pork sausage, but it often contains added sugars, nitrates, preservatives and colorings. Turkey jerky is loaded with salt, MSG and added sugars such as molasses powder (refinery syrup, cane molasses), brown sugar and maltodextrin.

So, year-round, stick with fresh-roasted turkey — white meat and skinless. Use it to make dinner, sandwiches (on 100% whole grain bread), turkey burgers or turkey soup. At the deli ask for house-roasted turkey breast — that should dodge the nasty nitrates, sugars and super-sodium that is added to lunchmeat.


(c)2019 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

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