A succulent roasted whole turkey is typically the main dish at the center of a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. But there are different ways to prepare it: For example, many people enjoy smoked turkey for the flavor and ease of preparation.
Smoked turkey is a lean meat that offers important nutrients, so there are some benefits to eating it. But because it's processed and high in sodium, it's probably best to enjoy it on occasion.
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Is Smoked Turkey Healthy?
Smoked turkey can be part of a healthy diet when enjoyed on occasion, but people with certain health conditions may want to take caution.
It's lower in fat than other meats, like beef or pork, but smoked turkey is still considered processed meat, which has been linked to heart disease and diabetes, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Smoked turkey may also be high in sodium and unsuitable for those eating a low-sodium diet.
What Is Smoked Turkey?
Smoked turkey is turkey meat that has undergone a smoking process, which involves curing the meat, then exposing it to smoke from burning aromatic wood for a long period of time.
The smoke from the burning wood browns the turkey and gives it a smokey flavor. It also helps make the meat more tender.
You can buy fully cooked smoked turkey and turkey parts (such as smoked turkey legs) in specialty food markets, but you also can choose to smoke a turkey at home.
Smoked turkey is also sliced thin and sold as deli meat.
Smoked Turkey Nutrition
There's some valuable nutrition in smoked turkey. According to the USDA, a 2-ounce serving of smoked turkey will give you:
- Calories: 60
- Total fat: 1 g
- Saturated fat: 0 g
- Trans fat: 0 g
- Cholesterol: 25 mg
- Sodium: 510 mg
- Total carbs: 2 g
- Dietary fiber: 0 g
- Sugar: 1 g
- Protein: 10 g
Calories and Macros
A 2-ounce serving of smoked turkey will only give you 60 calories, but keep in mind, this is a small serving size.
There's very little fat (just 1 gram in total), 2 grams of carbs and an impressive 10 grams of protein.
Eating smoked turkey can help you meet your daily goals for protein, which your body requires for muscle development, hormone production and energy, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Smoked turkey isn't particularly high in any other vitamins or minerals, besides sodium, per the USDA.
A 2-ounce serving of smoked turkey has about 510 milligrams of sodium, which is 22 percent of the recommended daily value (DV). Too much sodium in the diet has been linked to high blood pressure, water retention and a higher risk of heart disease.
The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend you limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams per day if you're an adult eating a 2,000-calorie diet. That said, the American Heart Association recommends a more modest daily limit of 1,500 milligrams to lower heart disease risk even further.
Eating smoked meats or meats cured in salt have been associated with a higher risk of certain cancers, including stomach cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Do not eat undercooked turkey, whether it's smoked or cooked in some other way. Always cook turkey to a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before serving it, per USDA guidelines.
- McKinely Health Center: Macronutrients: The Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat
- National Institutes of Health MedlinePlus.com: Protein in Diet
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Americans Consume Too Much Sodium
- American Cancer Society: What Are The Risk Factors For Stomach Cancer?
- DNA and Cell Biology: SULT1A1 Arg213His Polymorphism, Smoked Meat, and Breast Cancer Risk: A Case-Control Study and Meta-Analysis
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Are All Processed Meats Equally Bad for Health?
- USDA: Smoked Turkey
- USDA: USDA 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- American Heart Association: Sodium
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency: Salmonella Food Safety Facts