The leaves have fallen and the air is crisp and cool. It’s officially time for Thanksgiving! There’s something special about gathering around the table with your friends and family with delicious family recipes and a big, flavorful turkey.
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We all want to impress our guests with the best turkey on the block, but where do you even start? There is a lot to consider when you’re shopping for a turkey and there are many options from which to choose.
Registered dietitian Laura Jeffers, MEd, RD, LD, shares what you need to know (and what to look for!) when you go to purchase a scrumptious and healthy holiday bird.
Finding the perfect turkey can get overwhelming — fast. Jeffers recommends you keep an eye out for the following:
When browsing the grocery store aisles for your perfect turkey, it’s important to understand the labels so you know what you’re getting.
If you see any of these words on the label, these turkeys have been injected with a water solution that includes fats, spices and flavor enhancers.
“Typically-used potassium and phosphorus increase sodium content from 210 milligrams to 710 milligrams,” says Jeffers. “A standard non-enhanced bird has about 75 milligrams. Read the fine print to know all the ingredients and what percent of the total weight is liquid.”
This is a common but misleading food label. While it implies a healthier choice, federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in poultry.
According to the USDA, if the label states that no hormones are added, it must be followed up with a statement that says, “Federal regulations do not permit the use of hormones in poultry.”
For meat, the USDA defined the term “natural” to mean that it’s minimally processed and contains no artificial flavoring, coloring ingredients, chemical preservatives or other artificial ingredients.
“Take note that enhanced, self-basting or turkeys fed antibiotics to promote growth and fight diseases are deemed all-natural,” says Jeffers.
When making your final decision, be aware of the dates on the label so you can make sure you’re getting the freshest bird for your Thanksgiving dinner.
The USDA recommends you keep your eyes peeled for the following information: