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5 Healthy Reasons to Grill a Turkey

By Shannon Crocker MSc RD, Vibrant Nutrition Communications


During the summer months, I fire up the barbeque for many of our meals. Grilling is a tasty way to keep cooking healthy; it naturally gives flavour to food, so you don’t need to add salty seasonings.

One of my favourites on the grill? A turkey! Not only does it taste scrumptious grilled, but it’s also a super-nutritious choice. Check out my top five healthy reasons to grill a whole turkey:


  1. Turkey is packed with high quality protein.

Turkey is an excellent source of high quality protein: each 100-gram serving has about 30 grams. I recommend eating 20 to 30 grams of protein at main meals to help you feel energized and satisfied, to build and maintain muscle, and to manage a healthy weight.


  1. Turkey is a powerhouse of nutrients.

Grilling a whole bird gives you the most nutrient diversity compared to just one cut of turkey. While all cuts (white and dark) are an excellent source of Vitamin B12 (important in keeping your nervous system – the body’s electrical wiring – working well), dark meat is highest in zinc (needed for a healthy immune system) and selenium (an antioxidant mineral).


  1. Dark meat or white meat, turkey is lean.

Do you have a family member who prefers dark meat and another white meat? Keep them both happy when you grill a whole turkey! Turkey breast is extra-lean, with 3 grams of fat per 100-gram/3.5 ounce serving. What about dark meat? It’s lean, with just 8 grams of fat per the same size serving.

Plus, because turkey is lower in fat than other cuts of meat, you’ll have fewer flare ups on the barbeque.

Tasty tip: keep the skin on while grilling to keep your whole turkey moist and lock in flavour; remove the skin before eating to keep it a low fat option.


  1. Turkey is naturally low in sodium.

Many grilling choices, such as premade burgers and sausages, are high in sodium. Not turkey! And since turkey is so flavourful – and grilling makes it even better – you don’t need to soak your bird in a salty marinade to make it tasty, like some other cuts of meat.


  1. Turkey leftovers make healthy cooking quicker.

One of the most important steps you can take to a healthier you, is to cook more meals at home. Grilling a turkey means there will be leftovers to make simple, healthy meals during the week like Greek Turkey Pizza, Turkey, Broccoli and Almond Salad, Curried Turkey Waldorf Wraps.


Here’s to a happy, healthy grilling season!


Follow Shannon on Twitter and Instagram @shancrockerRD