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4 Thanksgiving Food Myths For Your Health And Wellness

[fa icon="calendar"] Nov 14, 2017 8:13:06 AM / by Selinda Johnson

Selinda Johnson

Thanksgiving is all about the three F’s: friends, family, and food

AGS Health - four myths about Thanksgiving

Sure, it’s not politeto pick favorites, but I think we can all agree that Thanksgiving simply wouldn’t be the same without the food. Now, Thanksgiving food can be quite the divisive topic. Everyone and their grandma, literally, seems to have their own set of opinions on foods based on supposed “facts”. Considering Thanksgiving is right around the corner, it’s about time we put some of the biggest myths to rest.  Below are four Thanksgiving food myths that I find interesting:

1) Turkey isn’t what’s making you tired

I’m sure we’ve all heard at one point or another that turkey is what causes the infamous post-Thanksgiving food-coma. The thought process here is that turkey is high in a molecule called tryptophan, an amino acid that can be converted into the sleep inducing chemical melatonin. While it is true that turkey contains relatively high amounts of tryptophan, lots of other foods do too. Heck, cheddar cheese has more tryptophan per gram than turkey [1]. The main reason for your fatigue is the sheer size of the meal you’re eating. That plate full of stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce is going to need to be broken down by insulin. Insulin doesn’t bother breaking down tryptophan, allowing it to bypass the carbohydrate competition to enter your brain, making you sleepy. So, don’t blame the bird for your sudden sleepiness, blame your grandma’s legendary rolls that you were sneaking all day.


2) Fresh pumpkin isn’t any better than canned pumpkin

We’ve been taught our whole lives that fresh produce is always superior to canned produce, but this simply isn’t the case with pumpkin. The nutritional value of canned pumpkin, compared to that of fresh pumpkin is very similar, making both equally healthy options. Where canned pumpkin gets the true edge over the real deal is in texture. Most canned pumpkin doesn’t come from the traditional jack-o-lantern variety that you may be envisioning. Classic pumpkins have a stringy and watery texture that isn’t necessarily great for baking. To remedy this, canned pumpkin producers use a variety of pumpkin called Dickson pumpkins [2]. Think of them as the ugly stepsister of traditional pumpkins that provide all the nutritional benefits and tastes significantly better. So go on and use that can of pumpkin puree confidently.


3) White meat? Dark meat? It doesn’t really matter...

Ah, white meat vs. dark meat: a classic debate that has divided dinner tables for generations. Some people insist that white meat is superior to dark meat in that it has fewer calories and lower fat content. While both of these things are technically true, there really isn’t that much of a difference when you break down the nutritional details. According to the Department of Agriculture, an ounce of boneless, skinless turkey breast contains about 46 calories and 1 gram of fat, compared with roughly 50 calories and 2 grams of fat for an ounce of boneless, skinless thigh [3]. If your white meat devout friends still aren’t convinced, feel free to remind them that dark meat also has increased amounts of iron, zinc, B12, and B6. At the end of the day, both options are healthier than their red meat counterpart, so don’t stress too much when you stroll up to the carving station.


4) One meal can have a big impact on your body

Just because it’s Thanksgiving doesn’t mean your body is giving you a free pass to pig out. When eating large, calorie-dense and fat rich meals, your body has to work double time to keep up homeostasis. All that extra work can have serious consequences. One study has shown that taking in a high-fat meal in a single sitting lowers blood flow and increases arterial resistance in males [4]. It’s easy to go overboard on a holiday that centers on food, but try to give your body a break by limiting your portion size. Instead, focus on the delicious concoctions you can cook up using all those glorious leftovers.



So there you have it!

Even with all this misconceptions cleared up, it can still be hard to manage your diet during the holidays. If you truly want to be health conscious this holiday season, look no further than AGS’s Health & Wellness genetic testing kit. The at home genetic testing kit gives you detailed insight into the foods that are best for you and how much you should be eating. This Thanksgiving, instead of unzipping your jeans to make room for more food, unzip your genes and change your life for the better.

Learn more about what AGS can do for you by downloading our free brochure. 


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Topics: Health & Wellness Test, Diet & Eating

Selinda Johnson

Written by Selinda Johnson

Selinda is currently a Senior at Arizona State University where she studies Biology with a concentration in Cellular Biology, Developmental Biology, and Genetics. She hopes to one day achieve her goal of helping people understand and utilize their genetics by becoming a Genetic Counselor.

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