In recent years I’ve observed a complete turkey takeover. I’m not talking about the traditional Butterball that dresses the holiday table or even the shaved lunchmeat that’s typically inserted between two slices of bread. I’m referring to the dramatic rise in turkey-based products heavily marketed towards people who, for whatever reason, choose to abstain from eating beef or pork.

Related Article: Is Eating Pork Good or Bad for Your Health?

Becoming so wrapped up in the concept of not eating these meats, many folks have become completely oblivious to the fact that all “non-beef” and “non-pork” products aren’t necessarily nutritious. This holds especially true when it comes to some of the more popular turkey-based processed foods.

Gone of the days when lean ground turkey was only available in selected supermarket fridges to accommodate individuals seeking a healthy alternative to ground beef. These days you can find a turkey version of just about anything from bacon to breakfast sausage, hot dogs to bratwurst, and even pepperoni to jerky.

But, unbeknownst to many, most of these foods are indeed highly processed and tend to be substantially higher in sodium and lower in nutrients when compared to their beef and pork counterparts.

While many people don’t eat beef or pork due to social, cultural or religious reasons, some abstain out of a presumption that both meats are just unhealthy. Dieting enthusiasts and healthy food purists often shun pork citing numerous sketchy explanations that haven’t been substantiated by science while beef is usually dismissed for reasons related to its high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol.

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Believe it or not, when lean cuts of beef and pork are consumed in moderation both are quite wholesome as they’re excellent sources of many important nutrients that are necessary for good health. These include high-quality protein, thiamin, vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and selenium.

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Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I chose to fully abstain from eating beef and pork for over a decade. However, my reasoning was completely different from most. I simply didn’t have the discipline to consume these meats in moderation.

That’s it!

At the same time, I was never one to go gung ho when it came to turkey-based products. While they sometimes make tasty alternatives, many are actually less healthy, especially those that are highly processed.

There’s nothing more vexing to me than overhearing someone at a breakfast restaurant as they order a large stack of pancakes, three eggs, and butter drenched grits with “turkey bacon” on the side.

Then there’s the person who has the audacity to ask the cashier at Domino’s pizza if “turkey pepperoni” is available as a topping.

And what about that individual who requests a “turkey burger” with extra cheese.

Really, what’s with the selective healthiness?

Now, don’t get me wrong here, in some cases, turkey is a healthier alternative to beef and pork, especially when it comes to ground turkey or roasted turkey preparations. But, some turkey-based products should only be consumed in moderation or just left alone, as many are highly processed and essentially devoid of nutrients.

While I occasionally indulge in a little turkey bacon, I treat it as more of a garnish for my omelets or a “salty” seasoning for my salads. I never make it a main course.

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At the end of the day, if you’re one who refrains from eating beef or pork for your own personal reasons, it’s important to choose your alternatives wisely, especially when it comes to those that are turkey-based. It’s always best to stick with turkey products that are lower in calories and higher in overall nutritional quality as opposed to just eating anything that’s turkey-based.

Related Article: Reconsidering Pork as Part of a Healthy Diet