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Brain Food: Turkey, It's Not Just for Feasts Anymore

This entry is part of a series, Brain Food»

Turkey Feast

Many Americans have a stereotypical image of Thanksgiving that they carry around in their heads. The feast table’s centerpiece is a huge, roasted bird, so golden brown it almost glows. This turkey is surrounded by an immense harvest bounty: vegetables, cranberries, stuffing and gravy, fruit salad, roasted sweet potatoes, potato gratin, even the compulsatory green bean casserole. Many of these are, or contain, brain foods we’ve already talked about, like walnuts, “blue foods,” and much more.

In short, the Thanksgiving feast really is good for your brain!

Is the turkey, though? All by itself, I mean. The short answer is, yes…

Turkey Wraps

Turkey meat provides substantial amounts of two key amino acids: Tyrosine and Tryptophan. Tyrosine’s something your body can make; tryptophan isn’t, so you have to get it from food. You’ve maybe heard that tryptophan makes you sleepy. True enough, if you can eat enough; and looking around the Clan hall after the feast, it looks like all the participants have been slugged with a cricket bat or something. Don’t blame that on tryptophan, though. The sluggards are likely done in by the sheer quantity of food instead.

Still, tryptophan’s important. Especially for brain function. Tryptophan is necessary to the production and regulation of serotonin, which is implicated in mood stability and a good night’s sleep. Small amounts of turkey, such as you’d find in a good lunch sandwich, may lead to alertness. Additionally, turkey supplies a good dose of zinc, a trace nutrient essential to verbal memory and retention (especially in children).

So yeah, turkey’s good for you. It’s not all hype.

Turkey Sandwich

What are some other ways to eat turkey, besides the whole roasted bird or sandwiches? Well, you can try Tuscan turkey wraps or pinwheels. Okay, those are almost sandwiches; how about something more substantial, like a turkey casserole? Or a casserole you can make in your crockpot? Those are tasty too.

Tex-Mex interest you? How about an enchilada casserole using turkey. Turkey Chilaquiles for breakfast sounds good too. Or maybe you’re on the Mediterranean diet? Try these stuffed peppers. If you’re the classical type, check out turkey ala king. Or even meatloaf.

Whatever you like, consider making turkey a much greater part of your diet than one or two big feasts a year. There are so many great ways to enjoy this lean meat! Your brain will thank you…

Enjoy the (Big Good Bird) Heat!

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1 comment to Brain Food: Turkey, It’s Not Just for Feasts Anymore

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