Talking Turkey and Thanksgiving Food Facts

Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday because it’s all about two of our favorite things – family and food. When you’re sitting down with family this Thanksgiving, impress them by answering their questions with our Best Thanksgiving Food Facts:

1. Does tryptophan make you sleepy?

It’s true that turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that your body uses as a building block to produce serotonin, which does help regulate sleep. However, many foods such as chicken and cheese contain tryptophan, according to Texas A&M.

That after-dinner nap is triggered by eating a big meal and your body producing insulin to digest it.

2. Are turkeys raised and processed humanely?

Many turkeys today are raised inside barns, when in the past they lived outdoors. “Turkeys today are healthier, have fewer diseases and are not left outdoors to be killed by foxes or other predators,” says Dr. Charles Hofacre of the University of Georgia.

When it comes to processing turkeys, all poultry facilities in the United States are regulated by the federal government, explains Dr. S.F. Bilgili of Auburn University. “They must be federally inspected and in compliance with all meat and poultry inspection laws. Each plant has a veterinary medical officer who is in charge of a team of trained inspectors who perform a number of important tasks,” he says. “It’s a highly regulated business. You don’t see this type of oversight in many other industries.”

Find out more about whether turkeys are able to walk, why chickens and turkeys grow quickly and other turkey talk.

3. Is corn a vegetable or a grain?

Both! If your Thanksgiving table includes a dish of corn, it is a vegetable. If you’re having cornbread stuffing, it would be considered a grain.

4. When peeling potatoes, there was a little brown spot in some of the potatoes. Should I be worried about that?

No. The spot is due to the environment in which the potato grew and is due to factors such as high heat or a potato virus. The virus isn’t harmful to people.

5. How can you tell if cranberries are ripe?

Drop them on the floor. If they bounce like a ball, they’re ripe because of a pocket of air inside.

6. What does it mean when dinner rolls are whole grain?

Whole grains foods contain all the essential parts of the entire grain seed. That means 100% of the original kernel – all of the bran, germ, and endosperm – is present.

7. Is it okay to have pumpkin pie?

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it! Pumpkin is loaded with nutrients like beta-carotene and fiber, says expert Dr. Julie Garden-Robinson. Spices like cinnamon may also have some benefits. The added sugar, however, is not so good for you.

That piece of pie – and potatoes and stuffing and rolls – will make you sleepy, so don’t blame it all on the tryptophan in the turkey. And remember to follow holiday food safety guidelines especially with leftovers.

Happy Thanksgiving from Best Food Facts!


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