May 27, 2018
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When determining the healthier food choice, read the labels

By Georgia Clark-Albert, Special to the BDN

As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I often get questions from people about which foods are healthier. Butter versus margarine, baked potato chips versus fried chips, regular versus low fat peanut butter and ground turkey versus ground beef are common topics of discussion. In most situations the response is similar: read the label.

Take a closer look at ground turkey

Often people think that choosing ground turkey over ground beef for burgers, tacos and casseroles is a healthier choice that’s lower in saturated fat and calories. This isn’t always true — you need to look at the label to see exactly what parts of the turkey are in the ground mixture. Unless the ground turkey is just made from breast meat, it isn’t as low in fat as you might think. Some producers add skin, fat and other parts of the turkey that changes the nutritional composition.

Ground turkey that’s 85 percent lean is made mostly of dark meat and fat and is similar in nutrition content to 85 percent lean ground beef. Look for 93 percent lean ground turkey since it is made from a combination of light and dark meat. The dark meat provides moisture and more flavor and the light meat is lower in calories and fat.

Three ounces of ground beef (80/20) provides 230 calories and 15 grams of fat, and 3 ounces of ground turkey is 220 calories and 17 grams of fat. If you choose lean ground beef, a 3 ounce portion of 93 percent lean provides 130 calories and 7 grams of fat, and 3 ounces of lean ground turkey provides 105 calories and 6 grams of fat. If you are going to buy ground turkey, make sure it is lean.

Turkey sausage versus regular sausage

Two patties of turkey sausage provides 120 calories and 7 grams of fat, while the same serving of regular sausage provides 400 calories and 20 grams of fat. Two slices of turkey bacon is 50 calories and 3 grams of fat, and regular bacon is 109 calories and 9 grams of fat. If you choose center cut bacon, the two slices provide 50 calories and 3.5 grams of fat.

When it comes to breakfast meat choices, turkey is the winner nutritionally.

With ground beef versus ground turkey, you need to read the label and be sure of exactly what is ground up in that package. There really isn’t a significant difference in lean ground turkey versus lean ground beef.

For your next cookout, give this turkey burger recipe a try. Be sure to get lean ground turkey breast for the least amount of calories and fat.

Apricot-Curry Turkey Burgers

1 (1.2 pound) package lean ground turkey breast

1 clove garlic, minced

2 green onions, finely chopped

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root

11/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1 tablespoon apricot preserves

8 cocktail buns, toasted

8 tomato slices

8 lettuce leaves

Combine turkey, garlic, onions, ginger root, cumin, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix lightly but thoroughly.

Shape turkey mixture into eight miniature-size burgers. Brush tops of patties with oil.

Grill, covered, for 8-10 minutes, turning once or until internal temperature of burgers reaches 160 degrees.

Meanwhile, for apricot-curry mayonnaise, combine mayonnaise, curry powder and apricot preserves. Serve burgers in buns with apricot-curry mayonnaise, tomato slices and lettuce leaves.

Daily nutritional values: 25 percent vitamin A; 2 percent calcium; 10 percent vitamin C; 8 percent iron. Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 220; protein: 21 grams; carbohydrate: 20 grams; saturated fat: 0 grams; cholesterol: 55 milligrams; sodium: 390 milligrams; dietary fiber: 2 grams; sugar: 6 grams; fat: 8 grams.

Georgia Clark-Albert is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator at Penobscot Community Health Care in Bangor. She provides nutrition consultant services through Mainely Nutrition in Athens. Read her columns and post questions at or email her at



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