The only type of bird you’ll want on your table this Thanksgiving

“Turkey day” is approaching quickly, and you may be debating which version of the bird to serve.

Should you get a fresh or frozen turkey? Does it really matter if it’s organic? Are products like turkey “burgers” and turkey “bacon,” jerky, and sausage healthier options than their beef and pork counterparts?

Well, let’s take a closer look…

Happy (organic) Thanksgiving

Let’s start with your Thanksgiving centerpiece. Even though it’s more expensive than the rock-hard, plastic-shrouded, frozen “blobs” in your grocer’s freezer section, I always recommend fresh, organic turkey.

As I wrote in the September issue of Insiders’ Cures (“Cage-free, grass-fed, organic…oh my!”), there are many labels for “healthy” poultry and eggs. But none of them are better than “certified organic.”

By United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) definition, any turkey (or other type of poultry) with the organic label must only eat organic feed, and can’t be given antibiotics or growth hormones. The birds must also have year-round access to the outdoors, and can’t be confined in cages that restrict their movement.1

Not only is this healthier for the birds, but it’s also healthier for you. Plus, unless you eat fresh, organic turkey, chances are you’re being exposed to a lot of processed “junk” ingredients.

Bottom line: Organic turkeys are rich in B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc. Yet frozen, processed turkeys are often rich in additives like salt water to “plump” them up.

Not to mention that an organic, fresh turkey is just the right size and taste. Unlike those bloated, “butterball” ice balls, that leave you with abundant unhealthy leftovers. So really, which would you rather have gracing your Thanksgiving table?

Just say no to pseudo-healthy turkey “products”

Of course, holiday celebrations involve more than just Thanksgiving dinner. There are plenty of other meals that friends and family enjoy together throughout the month, from the festive to the mundane. And you may be getting pressure from seriously misinformed friends or relatives to substitute beef or pork with turkey at every meal.

But it’s a myth that turkey is a “healthier” choice than red meat—despite the popularity of pseudo-healthy turkey-meat substitutes.

Yes, turkey “bacon,” and other “foods” may have fewer calories and less saturated fat than their beef or pork cousins. But the truth is these products can be highly processed and packed full of unhealthy additives.

For instance:

Turkey bacon typically contains fatty dark meat, skin, and artificial preservatives—as well as added nitrates and vegetable oils.

Turkey sausage may be processed with artificial coloring, preservatives, nitrates, and sugars.

Turkey jerky can be high in added sugars, salt and, in some cases, monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Turkey burgers tend to be healthier, often containing only dark and light turkey and spices for seasoning. But some products have added sugars and processed “flavorings,” meaning you’ll need to read the labels carefully.

But why go through that hassle? Stick to fresh, roasted organic turkey. You’ll gobble up all of the nutritional goodness—with no nasty added ingredients (or unwanted side effects to your health).