Turkey Vs Chicken: What's The Difference?

Is there really any difference between turkey and chicken? After all, they're both white meats, whether it's the rotisserie chicken from the grocery store or the 23-pound centerpiece on your Thanksgiving table. It's true that our two favorite birds have a lot in common nutritionally. However, there are a few differences to be aware of that can help us make the best choice for our health and fitness goals.

Both turkey and chicken are excellent sources of high-quality protein, containing all the essential amino acids the human body needs. There are negligible differences between the two in the amount of protein, but this has more to do with the cut of meat than the type of bird. The wing and leg meats of both birds contain the same amount of protein. Chicken takes the upper hand in breast meat, with 9 grams per ounce, compared to turkey's 8 grams, but turkey makes up the difference in thigh meat, with 8 grams of protein per ounce, compared to 7 grams for chicken (via Healthline). So, as long as you mix up the pieces on your plate, you'll be getting about the same amount of protein either way.

Both turkey and chicken supply high-quality protein

There are some differences when it comes to other nutrients, though. Overall, turkey contains slightly more iron than chicken, but less cholesterol and sodium (via LiveStrong). But in either bird, differences in vitamin and mineral content likely has more to do with whether the meat is white or dark. For example, chicken breast contains more niacin and vitamin B6, while the leg contains more zinc.

And, while white meat may have a better reputation for being low-fat, there's no real reason to shy away from enjoying dark meat. Marisa Moore, R.D.N., told Women's Health Magazine, "It's important to note that the majority of fat in both white and dark meat is unsaturated, with monounsaturated fats being the highest." And remember —monounsaturated fats are among the 'good,' heart-healthy fats (via American Heart Association). Moore also notes that dark meat may have another advantage over white: "The iron in dark meat is more easily absorbed than the iron found in plants."

Whichever bird you choose, the way it's cooked also has a lot to do with how healthful the meal is. Grilling, poaching, or baking, without a lot of added fat, are all better options than frying.