healthy turkey

Photo: Joe Biafore/istockphoto

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The Main Meat Course

Your Old Favorite: Honey-glazed, smoked or country ham, i.e., super-sugary or -salty ham.

The Healthier Option: If ham is what's being served, it's not the worst thing in the world (that would be deep-fried turkey, in case you were wondering), since it still offers a decent amount of protein. Turkey (depending on its cooking method) is the best option, though, says Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CEO of the New York Nutrition Group. "The simpler the better when it comes to preparation," she says. "Roasted or baked–those are best." Brisket is also a good choice, but beware how fatty your cut is.

The Nutrients You Get: Three ounces of turkey breast, no skin, has more than 25 grams of protein, 71 percent of your daily intake of vitamin B3 and almost 30 percent of your daily intake of bone-building phosphorous. The same amount of brisket (trimmed down to 1/8-inch of fat) has more than 24 grams of protein, a little more than 10 percent of your daily iron needs and nearly 75 percent of your daily zinc intake. Turkey and brisket are also incredibly low in sodium compared to ham, with 84 mg in 3 ounces of turkey, 42 mg in the same amount of brisket and a whopping 960 in the same amount of hickory-smoked ham. (That's almost 2/3 the amount of sodium the American Heart Association advises for an entire day.)