Read the original article by Julie Larson Bricher at meatingplace.com here.
The noble turkey, once championed by Benjamin Franklin as “a bird of courage” and “a much more respectable bird” than the America’s first bird, the bald eagle, has been getting a bad rap for those after-Thanksgiving meal nod-offs.
Blaming the turkey and its tryptophan content for your post-dinner snooze may be a bit unfair, according to Alison Webster, registered dietitian and associate director, nutrition communications with the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC).
In an IFIC blog post earlier this month, Webster explained that even though the gobbler does contain the amino acid tryptophan — a precursor for sleep-inducing melatonin and seratonin — you would have to consume it without other amino acids present to place the naptime blame squarely on turkey.
“This is because after we eat, the amino acids in protein all compete for entry to the brain, where they’re used to make a variety of neurotransmitters and hormones,” Webster explained. “When there’s a traffic jam of other amino acids at the door, tryptophan’s odds of entry to the brain – where it’s converted to serotonin and melatonin – are slim.”
Webster also notes that the amount of tryptophan content in turkey is not an especially compelling factor in causing us to fall asleep midday on Thanksgiving. Turkey contains about 265 to 300 milligrams of tryptophan per 3-ounce serving, as does chicken and beef.
“So, in earth-shaking Thanksgiving news: We can’t place all of the blame on turkey for our urge to take a nap,” Webster concludes, speculating that that heavy eyelids after partaking in the holiday feast may be more about eating more food in one sitting than we normally do and taking advantage of the time for relaxation on the day.
“[Turkey is] probably one of the healthiest things on our dinner plate with about 25 grams of protein per serving (about the size of a deck of cards),” Webster noted. “Given its iron, zinc, potassium and vitamin B content, we should give turkey the respect it deserves with a place of honor in our holiday meals.”
If you’ve got Thanksgiving leftovers, check out some turkey sliders and turkey pizza recipes in IFIC’s Make Over Your Leftovers video series.