5 Health Benefits Of Eating Turkey During Pregnancy

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Making turkey part of your diet during pregnancy has never been easier and it can provide you with an adequate amount of protein which is sometimes a struggle. Even though turkey is rich in nutrients, knowing the right way to eat it is important to reap its health benefits safely.

Pregnant women are more prone to birth canal infection from listeria-infected turkey and it may also lead to pregnancy complications such as miscarriage. That is why it’s so important to pay attention to only thoroughly cooked meat. It is also recommended that you consume organically fed turkeys. These precautions can protect you from any adverse outcomes.

This post will tell you about eating turkey during pregnancy, including cooking tips, benefits, and potential side effects.

Health Benefits Of Eating Turkey During Pregnancy:

Let’s closely look at main health benefits of eating turkey while pregnant:

  1. Approximately 4 oz/115grams of turkey contains around 32 gms of good quality protein and this helps meet higher protein requirements during pregnancy .
  2. Turkey is a good source of vital amino acids. A turkey sandwich can meet most of your protein requirements of the day.
  3. Turkey is a good source of B vitamins like B6 and B3 and minerals like selenium and phosphorus that you need for a healthy pregnancy
  4. If you want to get the best nutrients from your turkey, look for the ones that are raised under organic conditions.
  5. Grass fed turkeys are rich in nutrients and much superior compared to the ones given antibiotics and with no access to the natural pasture.

Risk of Contamination in Turkey:

Turkey, like all poultry items, carry the risk of foodborne illness and the most common ones being Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella, and Clostridium perfringens (1). This main concern could be prevented by following these two rules: First off, make sure to clean your hands thoroughly. To prevent spread of foodborne illnesses, it’s never recommended to wash the meat before cooking (2). Second important consideration is the right handling and cooking temperatures. It’s recommended that this internal temperature when cooked be at least 75 C (3). This temperature can only be accurately measured using a culinary thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the meat. Contamination may also result from the following:

  • Improper handling temperatures during storing, freezing, buying, etc which could prevent development of bacteria that might already be present in the meat.
  • Listeria that crosses your placenta barrier and infects the birth canal multiples in the refrigerator as well, so refrigerating temperature has to be proper.
  • If your turkey has any stuffing that was cooked inside the cavity, make sure that’s cooked at 75°C also.

These rules ensure turkey is perfectly safe for both you and baby.

Some More Ways To Enjoy Turkey

There are so many fun ways to relish this superior source of protein in your diet to ensure protein adequacy, let’s look at a few below:

  • Layer it to your sandwiches
  • Top it on your pasta
  • Make a curry with choice of spices
  • Add it to soups or stews
  • Grill it and use it in place of chicken to add variety
  • Marinate it with different spice combos or use it in Mexican or Italian foods.

To ensure the turkey you cook is perfectly safe, these are some guidelines you need to keep in mind:

  • Steady cooking is the best option.
  • Cooking at a lower temperature means cooking for a long time.
  • To get the best results, roast the meat at 300 degree Fahrenheit.
  • Once the oven temperature reaches 140 degrees, you can increase the temperature to 400 Fahrenheit to brown the meat.
  • To make sure the meat is cooked well, you can use an instant- reading thermometer.
  • The best internal temperature to find out if the turkey is well cooked is internal temperature of 75 degree C degrees.
  • While testing temperatures, make sure the thermometer does not touch the bone, as you will get wrong results this way.
  • Keep the turkey in standby mode for 20 minutes so that it is done perfectly.
  • If your turkey has any stuffing that was cooked inside the cavity, make sure that’s cooked at 75°C also. These rules ensure turkey is perfectly safe for both you and baby.

Following these simple cooking tips will not only bring out the best taste of the turkey, but also ensure whether consumption of turkey during pregnancy is safe.

Eating a whole range of nutritious and wholesome food ensures proper health of your unborn. Make every bite of your food count. Choosing the right food has never been so easy once you have the right knowledge.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
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Sadiya Qamar

Sadiya is a writer and editor with a passion for writing about parenthood and children. Her focus areas are health, wellness, and beauty. For MomJunction, she writes on kids’ health and nutrition.  Sadiya believes in doing in-depth research and providing accurate information to help parents with concerns on their children’s growth and development.