A turkey burger can be a healthy alternative to a regular beef burger. Ground turkey provides 22 to 25 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving, and it is a source of other essential nutrients. The exact nutritional content of your turkey burger depends on the type of ground turkey you choose and the additional ingredients that you add to the burger.
Broiled fat-free ground turkey has 117 calories in a 3-ounce portion. A 3-ounce portion of broiled 93 percent lean ground turkey has 176 calories, and the same size serving of 85 percent lean ground turkey has 212 calories. A 3-ounce turkey burger has 0 to 14 grams of fat, depending on the type of turkey used, and 0 grams of carbohydrates. A 1.5-ounce hamburger bun adds 117 calories, and an ounce of cheese and a tablespoon of mayonnaise or full-fat dressing can add about another 100 calories.
A turkey burger made from 3 ounces of broiled 85 percent lean ground turkey has 3.5 grams of saturated fat. Saturated fat can raise the levels of cholesterol in your blood and increase your risk for heart disease. To limit your consumption of saturated fat, choose fat-free ground turkey or 93 percent lean ground turkey, which has 2.5 grams of saturated fat in a 3-ounce portion. Cheese is among the top sources of saturated fat in the typical American diet, and adding an ounce of full-fat Swiss cheese to your turkey burger increases the saturated fat content of your meal by 5 grams.
A 3-ounce 85 percent lean turkey burger provides 1.7 milligrams of iron, or 10 percent of the daily value for iron. A burger made of fat-free ground turkey has only 0.7 milligram of iron. Iron is an essential component of healthy red blood cells, and deficiency can lead to anemia and symptoms of fatigue and muscle weakness. The iron from animal products is in the heme form of iron, which is easier for your body to absorb than iron in its non-heme form. A hamburger bun contributes an additional 1.4 milligrams of iron.
A turkey burger made from 3 ounces of 85 percent lean ground turkey supplies 2.8 milligrams of zinc, or 19 percent of the daily value for zinc, and a burger made from fat-free ground turkey has 1.9 milligrams of zinc. Zinc is a necessary mineral for regulating cell signaling, and it is a part of proteins and cell membranes in your body. Deficiency can impair immune function and lead to more infections. Having nuts, beans or cheese with your turkey burger increases the zinc content of the meal.
- USDA: National Nutrient Database
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- Linus Pauling Institute: Iron
- Linus Pauling Institute: Zinc
- Food and Drug Administration: Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide (14. Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients)