Are Turkey Meatballs a Healthy, Unprocessed Protein Source?
This question was asked of me by a friend of mine who has a problem with gluten and like most people needs to add more unprocessed protein-rich foods to his diet. I told him that unless he was making them himself or was getting them from a butcher that they probably were processed in some way shape or form, and knowing him like I do I knew there was no way he was making them or got them from a butcher. He was shopping at Costco so I let him know that they were processed and that he would be better off getting them fresh from a butcher or making them himself.
I did a little investigating and found the ingredient list for the turkey meatballs he had seen:
Turkey, water, mechanically separated turkey, bread crumbs (bleached wheat, flour, yeast), contains 2% or less of potassium lactate, salt, sodium lactate, egg whites, onion powder, dehydrated parsley, sodium diacetate, spice extractive, garlic powder, spices
Contains – Wheat, Egg and Gluten
To my surprise turkey was the first ingredient listed, I guess the image of most processed foods clouded my judgment. It’s not the worst thing I saw but its also not as healthy as freshly prepared turkey meatballs could be. At look at the nutritional label shows that one meatball yields 5 g protein, 2.4 g carbs, and 2.3 g fat. The suggested serving size is 3 meatballs which seems small to me and the entire package is only 12 meatballs. What you’re getting from a complete pack is 60 g protein, 28.8 g carbs, and 27.6 g fat.
While not a particularly great source of protein as you are getting a good size amount of unnecessary carbs and fat along with only 60 g of protein, it is not a bad choice compared to most things to be found in the frozen section. The bread crumbs and chemicals can make this a poor choice for those that are gluten intolerant. My final conclusion on these turkey meatballs is that they are not terrible but not great either, they would fall somewhere in the middle for people without gluten intolerances. If you do have problems with gluten they should be avoided. Instead I would recommend making turkey meatballs yourself or from a butcher you trust in order to eliminate the preservatives and other ingredients you may not like or be able to tolerate and ensure you are getting the freshest and healthiest product possible.
Scott Mailman the Protein Guy