How Healthy is Turkey Sausage?

Turkey sausage has gained popularity as a healthier alternative to traditional pork sausage, But is it truly a healthy choice? Let’s delve into the nutritional profile of turkey sausage and compare it to pork sausage to understand its health implications

Nutritional Comparison: Turkey vs. Pork Sausage

Serving Size: 2 links (approximately 85g)

Nutrient Turkey Sausage Pork Sausage
Calories 140-160 290-455
Total Fat 7-10 grams 23-38 grams
Saturated Fat 1-2 grams 10-14 grams
Cholesterol 60-65 milligrams 60-88 milligrams
Sodium 500-740 milligrams 846-1235 milligrams
Protein 14-17 grams 14-24 grams

Key Observations:

  • Lower in Calories and Fat: Turkey sausage boasts significantly fewer calories and fat compared to pork sausage. This makes it a better choice for individuals watching their calorie intake or managing their weight.
  • Reduced Saturated Fat: Turkey sausage contains considerably less saturated fat, which is linked to increased cholesterol levels and heart disease risk.
  • Comparable Protein Content: Both turkey and pork sausage offer similar amounts of protein, an essential nutrient for building and maintaining muscle mass.
  • High Sodium Content: Both types of sausage are relatively high in sodium. Individuals with high blood pressure or those on sodium-restricted diets should consume them in moderation.

Benefits of Turkey Sausage:

  • Lower Calorie Option: Promotes weight management and reduces overall calorie intake.
  • Reduced Saturated Fat: Contributes to a healthier heart by lowering cholesterol levels.
  • High Protein Source: Supports muscle growth and repair.
  • Versatility: Can be incorporated into various dishes like breakfast sandwiches, pasta sauces, and casseroles.

Drawbacks of Turkey Sausage:

  • High Sodium Content: May contribute to high blood pressure and other health issues for individuals with sodium sensitivity.
  • Processed Food: Like most sausages, it is a processed food, which may contain additives and preservatives.
  • Potential for Added Sugar: Some brands may contain added sugar, so checking ingredient labels is crucial.

Choosing the Healthiest Turkey Sausage:

  • Opt for Lower Sodium Options: Look for brands with less than 500mg of sodium per serving.
  • Choose Organic or Natural Varieties: These options typically contain fewer additives and preservatives.
  • Read Ingredient Labels: Be mindful of added sugars and choose brands with a shorter, more natural ingredient list.
  • Limit Portion Sizes: As with any processed food, moderation is key.

While turkey sausage is a better choice than pork sausage due to its lower calorie, fat, and saturated fat content, it’s not a health food. It remains a processed food with high sodium content. Enjoy it in moderation as part of a balanced diet and prioritize whole, unprocessed foods for optimal health.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1 Is turkey sausage a good source of protein?

Yes, turkey sausage is a good source of protein, providing around 14-17 grams per serving. This makes it a suitable option for individuals seeking to increase their protein intake.

2. Is turkey sausage good for weight loss?

Due to its lower calorie and fat content compared to pork sausage, turkey sausage can be a better choice for weight management. However, it’s crucial to consume it in moderation and pair it with a balanced diet and regular exercise for optimal weight loss results.

3. Is turkey sausage healthy for breakfast?

Turkey sausage can be a decent breakfast option if you choose a lower-sodium variety and pair it with other healthy foods like whole-wheat toast, fruits, and vegetables.

4. Is turkey sausage good for building muscle?

The protein content in turkey sausage can contribute to muscle building and repair. However, it’s essential to combine it with strength training and a balanced diet for optimal muscle growth.

5. Is turkey sausage good for heart health?

Turkey sausage is a better choice for heart health than pork sausage due to its lower saturated fat content. However, it’s still important to consume it in moderation and prioritize other heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Nutritional Benefits of Turkey Sausages

Highlighted below are some key nutritional benefits of turkey sausages:

  • Turkey sausages are a lean protein option with 13 grams of protein density. A single sausage has only 112 calories and 6 grams of protein (6)
  • Low in calories: Turkey sausages have half the calories of regular sausages, as the comparison section above shows. This makes them a desirable option for maintaining a healthy weight and consuming lean protein.
  • Reduced saturated fat content: The amount of saturated fat in turkey sausages is comparatively low. With approximately 2. 23 grams per 100 grams, which is much more than the roughly 13 grams found in typical pork sausages (6, 8). Increased consumption of saturated fat can result in elevated levels of low density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL-C, which is known to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (9, 10) Notably, compared to plant-based alternative sausages like Beyond Sausage, turkey sausages even contain less saturated fat.
  • Micronutrient provision: High concentrations of B vitamins, especially niacin and vitamin B12, are found in turkey sausages. They are also an excellent source of zinc, providing roughly 2020% of the daily value (6, 207) with a single usage.
  • Sausage made from turkey is a flexible ingredient that works well in a variety of recipes. They can be added to pasta and rice-based dishes, grilled, stir-fried, pan-fried, roasted, used as a pizza topping, and more. They can also be used in soups and stews.

Despite their nutritional merits, turkey sausages present several potential downsides.

The most notable of these are listed below:

  • High sodium content: The majority of turkey sausages have a substantial amount of salt, even though there are “lower sodium” options available. For example, one sausage has 379 mg of sodium, which is equivalent to 16 5% of the recommended daily value (6, 7). This implies that people on a low-sodium diet might find them unsuitable.
  • Not as flavorful: Some claim that traditional pork sausages have a more flavorful and juicy flavor than turkey sausages. This contrast primarily stems from their significantly lower fat content.
  • Allergens may occasionally be present in turkey sausages due to their ingredient list (11). For instance, certain brands might use gluten-containing additives, like seasoning blends that use wheat products. A careful examination of the ingredient label is necessary for anyone with a gluten sensitivity or allergy to determine the complete ingredient profile.
  • May include nitrates or nitrites: Turkey sausages, like many processed meats, may include sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite. These ingredients function as preservatives to prevent bacterial growth. But they may also result in the synthesis of substances known as nitrosamines, which have the potential to cause cancer (12, 13, 14). If you decide to restrict the amount of nitrates and nitrites, make sure these preservatives aren’t included by reading the ingredients label. When combined with a dietary source of nitrate or nitrite, research indicates that consuming vitamin C and the bioactive components of plant foods may help to mitigate the formation of nitrosamines (15, 16).

What Nutritional Values Do They Have?

The subsequent tables display nutritional values per 57-gram cooked turkey sausage. All nutritional data is drawn from the USDA’s FoodData Central database (6).

Daily values are based on a 2000-calorie diet and were calculated by combining the USDA data with the FDA’s published daily values (7).

Table 1: Nutrition facts for a 57-gram cooked turkey sausage

Name Amount % Daily Value
Calories 112 kcal
Carbohydrates 0 g 0%
Fiber 0 g 0%
Sugars 0 g
Fat 5.93 g 7.6%
Saturated 1.29 g 6.5%
Monounsaturated 1.7 g
Polyunsaturated 1.54 g
Omega-3 0.09 g
Omega-6 1.38 g
Protein 13.6 g 27.2%
Cholesterol 52.4 mg 17.5%

Table 2: Vitamin composition of a 57-gram cooked turkey sausage

Vitamin Amount % Daily Value
Folate 3.42 mcg 0.9%
Vitamin A, RAE 7.41 mcg 0.8%
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) 0.05 mg 4.2%
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.15 mg 11.5%
Vitamin B3 (niacin) 3.26 mg 20.4%
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) 0.62 mg 12.4%
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 0.18 mg 10.6%
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) 0.70 mcg 29.2%
Vitamin C 0.40 mg 0.4%
Vitamin D
Vitamin E 0.10 mg 0.7%
Vitamin K 0.86 mcg 0.7%

Table 3: Mineral composition of a 57-gram cooked turkey sausage

Mineral Amount % Daily Value
Calcium 12.54 mg 1.0%
Copper 0.08 mg 8.9%
Iron 0.85 mg 4.7%
Magnesium 11.97 mg 2.9%
Manganese 0.01 mg 0.4%
Phosphorus 115.14 mg 9.2%
Potassium 169.86 mg 3.6%
Sodium 379.05 mg 16.5%
Zinc 2.21 mg 20.1%

What is turkey sausage good for?

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