Turkey meat vs Pork - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
Turkey meat and pork contain similar amounts of protein, minerals, and no carbohydrates. Pork contains almost twice as much fats as turkey meat.
Even though both meats contain similar amounts of vitamins, turkey meat is 5.6 richer in vitamin A, almost two times richer in vitamin B3. It is also richer in vitamins B5, B6, folate or B9, and B12, iron, and copper. Pork is 19.5 times richer in vitamin B1, 3.5 times richer in vitamin D and vitamin E, as well as vitamin B2, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.
The darker the meat is, the more saturated fats it contains, leading to mostly adverse impacts on health. So, turkey meat has a less negative impact on health than pork.
Table of contents
- Macronutrients and Calories
- Glycemic Index
- Weight Loss & Diets
- Health Impact
- Health Benefits
- Downsides and Risks
The safety, the value, and, more importantly, the quality of the food makes people hesitate to choose one or another food. Both turkey meat and pork are commonly consumed meats. This article demonstrates their differences and what they have in common and discusses their impact on health.
The main difference between pork and turkey is based upon their myoglobin content. As pork is high in myoglobin, it is classified as red meat, while turkey as poultry is white meat.
Taste and Use
Surprisingly, one study has found that turkey tastes more like pork than chicken. The attributes closely related to each other are its brothy, fatty, salty, sweet, and umami taste (1).
The best pork to look for can be described as greyish pink in color, firm and fine-grained, well-marbled, and covered with an outer layer of firm white fat.
Both turkey meat and pork can be produced as processed or fresh meat. Processed meat has a significantly different impact on health when compared to fresh meat.
The different varieties of turkeys are based on their age and are as follows.
- Fryer-Roaster Turkey: a young, immature turkey, usually less than 12 weeks of age.
- Young Turkey: a turkey usually less than six months of age.
- Yearling Turkey: a fully matured turkey, usually less than 15 months of age.
- Mature or Old (Hen or Tom) Turkey: an adult turkey, usually more than 15 months of age (2).
Pork’s varieties are based on the cut. There are four primal cuts of pork: the shoulder, the leg or ham, the loin, and the belly or the side.
The nutritional values are described for whole, roasted turkey meat and whole, broiled pork loin.
Macronutrients and Calories
Pork is denser in nutrients, containing 58% water than turkey meat which contains 63.5% water.
Both turkey meat and pork have the same average serving size of 85g.
Both of the meats are high-calorie foods. A hundred grams serving of pork provides 242 calories; meanwhile, turkey meat provides 189 calories.
Protein and carbohydrates
Both of these foods contain a very similar level of protein. The difference between the amounts of essential amino acids is also minimal. That being said, pork contains slightly more essential amino acids than turkey meat.
Just like other meats, they both contain no carbohydrates.
Fats and cholesterol
Pork contains two times more fats than turkey meat. Pork is much richer in monounsaturated and saturated fats, while turkey meat contains almost two times more polyunsaturated fats.
Pork is lower in cholesterol.
Turkey meat is richer in most B complex vitamins - B3, B5, B6, B9 or folate and B12. However, this doesn’t apply to vitamin B2 and especially vitamin B1, which are higher in pork.
Pork is three times richer in fat-soluble vitamin D and vitamin E but contains less vitamin A than turkey meat.
Turkey meat is absent in vitamins K, and C. Pork is absent only in vitamin K.
These foods contain similar amounts of minerals.
Pork is significantly higher in potassium, as well as calcium, and phosphorus compared to turkey meat.
Turkey meat is richer in iron and copper. Turkey also has a high level of sodium.
Both of these meats contain almost equal amounts of magnesium and zinc.
Both turkey meat and pork contain no carbohydrates, so their glycemic index is considered to be 0. To read more about the glycemic index of foods with no carbohydrates, you can visit this page.
The pH value of a food is a direct function of the free hydrogen ions present in that food. Food acids release hydrogen ions, giving acidic foods their distinct sour flavor.
Thus, the pH may be defined as a measure of free acidity. More precisely, pH is defined as the negative log of the hydrogen ion concentration (3).
Pork’s pH range is between 5.3 to 6.9, whereas turkey meat’s is 5.7 - 6.8 (3). According to the numbers, both turkey meat and pork have a slightly acidic or close to neutral pH of 7.
Weight Loss & Diets
Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals in your diet. However, if you currently eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red and processed meat a day, the Department of Health advises that you cut it down to 70g (4).
Turkey meat and pork are high-calorie foods. Pork provides 53 more calories per every hundred grams serving than turkey meat.
For a low-calorie and low-fat diet, turkey meat is a better choice. Both pork and turkey contain no notable amount of carbohydrates and fit well into a low-carb diet.
A diet moderate to low in red meat, unprocessed and lean, and prepared at moderate temperatures is probably the best choice from the public health point of view (5).
Atkins and keto diets are low-carb diets, and when the body is starved of carbs, the liver produces ketones as an alternate fuel from stored fat; therefore, these meats are great for these diets (6).
These meats are consumed during the Paleo diet as well (7).
This section will show the benefits and risks of meat consumption on health using scientifically proven or researched information.
Eating turkey meat doesn’t increase or decrease the risk of heart disease. While there’s no maximum limit for how much poultry you should eat, it is not directly beneficial to heart health (8).
Turkey meat is a good source of arginine. As with other amino acids, the body uses arginine to make new proteins. Arginine is also the raw material for making nitric oxide, which relaxes and opens arteries (9).
Regular inclusion of lean fresh pork in the diet in place of other meats may improve body composition without increasing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Body composition can be improved without energy restriction or apparent changes in physical activity levels, total meat, or protein intakes (10).
Higher intakes of poultry were found to predict a reduced risk of type II diabetes. The prevention of type II diabetes might be aided by consuming certain foods (for example, green vegetables, fruits and berries, oil and margarine, and poultry) rich in nutrients with hypothesized health benefits (11).
The limited evidence suggests a possible negative impact of processed pork on glucose-insulin metabolism and a possible positive impact of pork intake on waist circumference and high-density lipoprotein or “good” cholesterol. Still, significant research gaps exist, preventing the drawing of definite conclusions (12).
Turkey contains anti-cancer properties. It is a good source of the trace mineral selenium, an essential component required for thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defense systems, and immune function. Scientific studies have suggested that selenium intake can bring down cancer incidence. Turkey meat also contains tryptophan, which plays an essential role in strengthening the immune system (13).
Downsides and Risks
Unprocessed meat and poultry can be included in a heart-healthy eating pattern, but processed meat is not part of a heart-healthy eating pattern; it should be limited or avoided (14).
Red meat is high in cholesterol and saturated fats and, as a result, increases the risk for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.
Meats cooked at high temperatures increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes or worsening the disease. A healthier way to cook meats is avoiding high-heat or open flame methods (grilling, barbecuing, broiling, and roasting) or having brief periods of high heat. Some of the healthy cooking methods are baking, sous-vide, boiling, steaming, stewing, and stir-frying.
There was also an increased risk of weight gain and developing obesity in the frequent users of high-temperature cooking methods (caused by disturbance of fat metabolism), which may contribute to the development of diabetes (15).
Eating processed meat increases your risk of bowel, stomach, esophageal, colon cancers. The World Health Organization has classified processed meats, in this case, pork, as a Group 1 carcinogen (known to cause cancer). There is also evidence of links with pancreatic, prostate, nasopharyngeal, and lung cancers (16,17,18,19).
- The Importance of Food pH in Commercial Canning Operations
- Meat & Heart Healthy Eating
- How Meat Is Cooked May Affect Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- Red meat, processed meat and cancer
- Cancer: Carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Cholesterol|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in Sugar||Equal|
|Lower in glycemic index||Equal|
|Rich in minerals||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low glycemic index diet||Equal|