Which Is Better for You: Ground Turkey or Beef?

Fat-free versions of ground turkey provide a very lean source of protein.
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If you're looking for ground meat, there's plenty of options. But, when it comes to heart health, you need to pick out the very leanest meats — such as fat-free ground turkey recipes. Too much saturated fat and sodium in your diet can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.


When you compare ground turkey recipes with their beef counterpart, they're relatively similar in calories, saturated fat and sodium content. But ground turkey also comes in a fat-free version that could be the best option for your heart.

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Read more: It's All About the Ratio: How to Make Ground Beef Good for Your Diet


Ground turkey vs. ground beef have many similarities in saturated fat and sodium content. But, fat-free versions of ground turkey provide a very lean source of protein.

Count the Calories

The calories in a turkey burger versus beef burger vary based on the leanness of the meat. According to the USDA, a 3-ounce patty made of 80 percent lean beef provides 209 calories. A 93 percent lean patty of the same size provides 164 calories.

A 3-ounce ground turkey patty provides 173 calories, while the fat-free version clocks in at only 117 calories.

Be Mindful of Saturated Fat

According to the American Heart Association, saturated fat shouldn't make up more than 5 to 6 percent of your total caloric intake — 120 calories, or 13 grams maximum, for a 2,000-calorie diet. You won't usually get quite as much saturated fat from ground turkey as compared with ground beef.


According to the USDA, a ground turkey patty contains 4.5 grams of saturated fat and an 80 percent lean beef patty provides close to the same amount — 5.1 grams. On the healthier side, a 93 percent lean beef patty includes 3.1 grams while fat free ground turkey provides 0.6 grams of saturated fat.

Shake the Sodium

According to the American Heart Association, healthy adults should each no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. An 80 percent lean serving of ground beef provides 70.6 milligrams of sodium while the 93 percent lean version provides 56.1 milligrams.


The same serving size of ground turkey provides 56.3 milligrams of sodium while the fat-free version contains 50.2 milligrams. Be aware that seasoning your meat, whether it's a turkey burger vs. beef burger, can significantly increase the food's sodium content.

Read more: What to Look for When Buying Ground Beef — Plus 9 Healthy Recipes

Make the Healthy Choice

If you're already at risk of developing heart disease, fat-free ground turkey might be your best option. This type of ground turkey is derived from very lean cuts of the bird, and although it still has some unhealthy components, it has very minimal amounts.


Adding condiments and toppings to your burger can significantly impact its nutritional value. For example, topping your burger with a slice of American cheese adds an additional 110 calories, 6 grams of saturated fat and 460 milligrams of sodium, according to the USDA.