The hamburger is a very popular component of the American diet.  However, as many people know, a greasy, fatty, beef burger is not the smartest nutritional choice.  Thankfully, there is a healthier alternative.  Turkey burgers, which are made with ground turkey meat, offer an almost identical juicy taste with less fat and excellent nutritional value.

As with beef burgers, nutrition in a turkey burger depends upon how the patty was prepared.  When made from scratch with ground meat, it is best to begin with lean, white meat, turkey.  This type of meat does not include skin, which can be quite fatty.  Choosing any ground turkey can leave you with a burger that is just as unhealthy, if not worse, than a beef patty.  In fact, some turkey burgers can have more than 15 grams of fat in an average, 100g, patty.

2006-07-30_turkey-burger-2The average, healthy turkey burger has less than 200 calories in it.  It contains 3 grams or less of saturated fat, and depending on the seasonings added, can have less than 100mg of sodium.  Turkey burgers are loaded with protein and have little or no carbohydrates.  In fact, an average burger can have some 20 plus grams of protein.

One downside of the turkey burger is its lack of significant vitamins and minerals.  However, an average patty does have roughly 10% of a person’s recommended daily iron intake.  Turkey burgers are also a great source of some lesser known nutrients that are common in turkey meat.  One of these is selenium.  Selenium protects the thyroid and is essential for proper metabolism.  Selenium is also associated with decreased cancer risk and improve immune function.  In a single turkey burger, roughly half of a person’s daily selenium needs can be met.

Turkey is also a good source of B vitamins, essential to proper nutrition.  The top two B vitamins found in turkey burgers are niacin and vitamin B6.  Both of these are important for energy production as they help convert fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into fuel for the body.  Additionally, niacin can help regulate blood sugar, which means more stable moods and a steadier metabolic rate.  One turkey burger provides roughly a quarter of a person’s daily needs for both these B vitamins. Finally, turkey burgers are high in tryptophan.  Tryptophan is an amino acid that is essential to humans.  It is known for its sedative properties and can help relax a person and induce better sleep.