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7 Things you didn’t know about your turkey

You may know how awesome turkey tastes, but do you know about the health perks of eating our favorite holiday bird?

Before you sit down for your Thanksgiving feast, consider these fun facts about the health benefits you can take advantage of just by noshing on some turkey.

1. It has an antibiotic component

Turkeys contain the biological mechanism to generate an antibiotic — Strain 115. The strain produces the MP1 antibiotic, which can heal staph infections, strep throat, severe gastrointestinal diseases and about half of all infectious bacteria. The downside: By the time the turkey is cooked and families sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, the bacteria will be dead — probably the antibiotics along with them. The turkey itself, though, could turn out to be quite the healing agent.

2. It’s practically a multivitamin

Turkey is rich in iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium and B vitamins — all major nutrients your body needs.

3. It contains tryptophan, but that won’t make you tired

The amino acid is not produced in the body, but it’s vital to produce niacin (for energy production) and serotonin (for mood balancing). Niacin can also boost cholesterol, which can help thwart cardiovascular diseases. Tryptophan also plays a part in boosting your immune system, so it may protect you from seasonal sniffles. Most people say turkey makes them sleepy, but really, that’s not quite the case. “In truth, it’s those carbohydrate-laden trimmings, not the turkey, that promote that all too familiar postprandial sleepiness on Thanksgiving Day,” Harriette R. Mogul, M.D., told Time.

4. It’s thyroid friendly

Turkey contains selenium, an antioxidant, which is a must-have for thyroid hormone metabolism. And you thought you had to stick to cranberries and broccoli!

5. It’s packed with lean protein

A 3-1/2-ounce portion of turkey has about 30 grams of lean protein in it — along with less fat and calories than there are in beef. Of course, skip the skin if you want to keep your holidays on the lean side. A serving of turkey is just 161 calories and has only four grams of fat in it.

6. It may help your cholesterol and blood sugar

Eaten regularly, turkey can reduce cholesterol levels. The meat is a low-GI (glycemic index) food, so it helps to maintain stable insulin levels. Saturated fat is necessary for our bodies, but must be consumed in moderation. Turkey has less than 12 percent of the recommended daily allowance of saturated fat for every four ounces you eat, so it’s a good low-fat source of food.

7. It reminds us to be grateful

True, you don’t need a turkey to count your blessings, but the quintessential appearance of it may be just what you need to practice a little gratitude. Numerous health studies show that gratitude can improve our overall health. Even if you’re not in great company around the Thanksgiving table, the bird may be all you need to pause for a moment, feel good and, in turn, give yourself a health boost.

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