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The Protein in a Turkey Sandwich

By Gail Morris

Turkey is a staple in the American diet, especially around the holidays. It is a type of poultry meat that has decreased in production since 1997 but increased slightly in price. According to the California Poultry Federation, the number of turkeys produced fell by 5,300,000 between 1997 and 2006, while the price rose only 4 cents per pound. However, the average meat produced per turkey rose by just under 5 pounds per bird.

Protein Basics

Amino acids are the central building blocks of proteins and are the result of the breakdown of protein during metabolism in the body. There are 20 different amino acids that are found within a variety of different proteins. The University of Arizon Biology Department describes how the sequence of these amino acids is determined by the DNA or gene that codes the protein and the amino acids will determine the biological activity of the protein. This means that the way in which the amino acids build a protein will determine if it becomes muscle, hormone, enzymes or a number of other substances required for good health. These amino acids also play a role in the production of other proteins inside the body.

Turkey Breast Protein

The protein found in turkey meat will depend upon the area of the turkey from which it is removed. The University of Illinois lists breast meat with skin as containing 29 g of protein with 8 g of fat, while without the same portion gains another 1 g of protein and loses 4 g of fat. The portion size was 3.5 oz. portion of turkey, or about the size and thickness of a new deck of cards.

Dark Meat Protein

Information from the University of Illinois reveals that the fat, calorie and protein content of the turkey will be different based on the type of meat, dark vs. light. This is because the fat and calorie content of white or light meat is lower. A 3.5 oz. portion of dark meat will yield 27 g of protein with skin and 28 g of protein without skin. The fat content is greater overall with the dark meat with skin yielding 13 g of fat and 8 g without the skin.


Those who love turkey can boast that this meat contains higher amounts of protein per 3 ounce serving than chicken, beef, pork, lamb, veal, ground turkey and an 80/20 mix of ground beef, according to the National Turkey Federation. The amount of saturated and total fat per serving is also significantly lower than those listed meats with turkey weighing in at .64 total fat grams and .21 saturated fat grams per 3 oz. serving. The closest competitor was a chicken breast, which yields 3.1 g of total fat and .87 in saturated fats.

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