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Let’s talk turkey | recognizing sodium in your Thanksgiving dinner

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{shared, with permission, from a Essentia Health press release)

By Bonnie Brost, Essentia Health registered dietitian

Let’s talk turkey – sodium in your Thanksgiving dinner

You don’t even need to pick up the salt shaker to find yourself consuming more than a day’s worth of sodium in your Thanksgiving dinner.

Depending on your menu and ingredients, you may easily have more than the daily recommended allowance of 2,300 milligrams of sodium on a single plate. And if you or your guests have high blood pressure, heart failure or kidney disease, that number should be below 2,000 milligrams each day.

For the past decade, I’ve worked to help Essentia Health patients make healthier choices for their Thanksgiving menus and other holiday gatherings. Many need to limit sodium when they are in cardiac rehabilitation, part of the Heart & Vascular Center at Essentia Health – St. Joseph’s Medical Center.
More than 80 percent of Americans eat turkey around Thanksgiving so the first place to look for sodium is your turkey. Frozen turkeys can range from 200 milligrams of sodium in a 4-ounce serving to more than 740 milligrams per serving. Check out the table below for some comparisons.
Turkey producers inject a solution into the bird to help keep the meat moist and help with their bottom line. This solution is often rich in sodium. These frozen turkeys are often labeled as “basting” or “self-basting.” The amount of added solution can range from 4 percent of a turkey’s weight in a Butterball Fresh Whole Turkey to up to 25 percent in Butterball’s Ready to Roast Classic Boneless Turkey Breast.
I have to give the turkey producers credit. Many have reduced the amount of sodium in their products by 200 to 400 milligrams of sodium per serving since I first began my annual survey. Ten years ago, most frozen turkeys had more than 500 milligrams of sodium.
To lower your sodium, choose a fresh or free-range turkey. A 4-ounce serving of fresh turkey has 75 to 120 milligrams of sodium. Remember, a 4-ounce serving is about the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards.  Many grocery stores and meat shops carry fresh turkey this time of year. Check to see if you need to order your fresh bird ahead of time.

Where Sodium is Lurking

The amount of sodium in a 4-ounce serving of turkey can vary greatly, depending on whether you choose a fresh bird or a frozen one. There’s also a broad range among frozen turkeys, depending on the solution that producers inject into their birds during processing.
Brand of turkey                                 Sodium in 4 ounces
Fresh turkey                                                     75 -120 mg
Free-range turkey (fresh or frozen)                             75-120 mg
Jenni-O Turkey Breast Tenderloins                               75 mg
Jenni-O All Natural Fresh Whole Turkey                  80 mg
Jenni-O Premium Basted Turkey                           210 mg
Jenni-O Oven-Ready Whole Turkey                          460 mg
Jenni-O Smoked Whole Turkey                                     550 mg
Jenni-O Tender & Juicy Young Turkey Breast – Bone In            350 mg
Butterball Fresh Whole Turkey                                   130  mg
Butterball Premium Whole Turkey                         200 mg
Butterball “Lil” Butterball Turkey                              250 mg
Butterball Ready to Roast Classic Boneless Turkey Breast        740 mg
Bonnie Brost is a licensed and registered dietitian in the Wellness Program at the Essentia Health St. Mary’s-Heart & Vascular Center in Duluth. Essentia Health is guided by the values of quality, hospitality, respect, justice, stewardship and teamwork. From emergency care to convenient care, family care to speciality practice, Essentia Health delivers on its promise to be “Here With You” in the Brainerd Lakes Area.  Learn more at www.essentiahealth.org.

Essentia Health is guided by the values of quality, hospitality, respect, justice, stewardship, and teamwork. From emergency care to convenient care, family care to a specialty practice, Essentia Health delivers on its promise to be “Here With You” in the Brainerd Lakes Area.  Learn more at www.essentiahealth.org.

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