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Archive for the ‘turkey’ Category

The 4 Biggest Nutritional Hoaxes

I believe the four foods and beverages below have enjoyed an unwarranted nutritional halo for too long.

While not equivalent to soda and trans fat-laden fast food, they are nevertheless not the nutrition all-stars we have been made to believe. The time for an objective analysis has come.

In no particular order:

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You Ask, I Answer: Turkey Bacon

g25825828a52574bb2a79cf8342ce45836cd560d6733ce5Is turkey bacon/ham really better for you than regular bacon and ham?

– @Beth_Pettit
Via Twitter

No.

Both are high in sodium (approximately 325 milligrams of sodium per measly ounce!) and highly processed.

Turkey bacon and ham are lower in total and saturated fat, but not in amounts significant enough to classify it as healthier.

An ounce of turkey ham contains 0.4 grams of saturated fat; an ounce of conventional ham provides 0.8 grams.

Classifying turkey bacon and ham as healthier than conventional varieties is like saying that Coca-Cola is healthier than orange soda because it has 12 fewer grams of sugar.

I recommend taking it easy with all processed meat products — including soy-based faux cold cuts.  They are low on nutrients, high in sodium, and most contain troublesome preservatives (mainly nitrites and nitrates).

My advice?  Keep the bacon to two strips with brunch every Sunday.

As far as cold cuts go — if you love them in a sandwich, treat yourself to two slices a week — no more.

The evidence linking frequent consumption of processed meats with increased risk of stomach, colon, and prostate cancer is too strong to ignore.

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You Ask, I Answer: Tryptophan

I am writing to you so you can hopefully help me prove a point.

My cousin claims the reason why people feel tired after Thanksgiving dinner is because of the tryptophan in turkey.

I say that’s a myth.

She insists it has been “scientifically proven” that tryptophan makes you sleepy.

What do you have to say?

– Lori Narth
(Location withheld)

Ah, yes, the “turkey makes you sleepy” myth. Let’s break this one down.

Tryptophan is one of twenty amino acids (and one of nine essential amino acids which we must get from food.)

Tryptophan also happens to be a pre-cursor for serotonin (a neurotransmitter) and melatonin (a hormone), which play significant roles in the regulation of sleep.

That might make you think there is a direct link between the tryptophan in your turkey dinner and your desire to nap a short while later.

Not so much.

First of all, although tryptophan is one amino acid in turkey, it is also found in other foods.

In fact, chicken breast, tuna, soybeans, and beef contain more tryptophan than turkey! Snapper, black beans, and cod are also good sources of this amino acid.

More importantly, tryptophan is one of many amino acids contained in a Thanksgiving dinner.

This means tryptophan is competing with other similar compounds for absorption by the brain. Simply put, you aren’t getting enough of it to make you sleepy.

Research has shown you would have to eat a significant amount of turkey — almost the entire bird! — on an empty stomach to feel any sleep-inducing effects.

A much more accurate theory for the sleepiness after Thanksgiving dinner has to do with the sheer amount of food eaten.

With that much food to digest, the body sends as much blood as it can to the intestinal tract, resulting in an energy zap.

This is the main reason behind the “small meals throughout the day” recommendation — by not overworking your digestive system at any given time, your energy level is more likely to remain steady.

Remember, too, that most Thanksgiving meals include white bread, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce.

Those are precisely the kind of carbohydrates that make blood sugar levels rise and fall rather sharply, making for a more noticeable “energy crash.”

It is also a known fact that meals high in carbohydrate increase insulin levels, consequently increasing the amount of serotonin produced by the body.

I also think people forget that the buildup to such events (traveling to someone’s house, preparing the food, and being socially “on”) can be rather tiresome in and of itself.

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