The idea that turkey makes us tired has been going around holiday dinner tables for as long as anyone can remember. Many of us swear it makes us sleepy, but the thing is, it’s just not true. And it’s not the only myth we’ve come to believe about Thanksgiving food.
“Time” magazine is debunking some common food myths so we know the truth.
Myth: Turkey makes you tired
- Truth: Turkey contains L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps produce serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone and melatonin, which promotes sleep. But Roxana Ehsani, a registered dietitian nutritionist, explains, “You’d have to eat a lot of turkey - actually about four pounds of it - by yourself, in one sitting, for it to make you sleepy.” So what’s really making you drowsy after your holiday feast?. Research shows that high-carb, high-fat meals—like Thanksgiving dinner—lead to sleepiness that typically hits the hardest about 60 to 90 minutes after eating.
Myth: Canned pumpkin is less nutritious than fresh
- Truth: Both canned and fresh pumpkin are loaded with nutrients, like potassium, vitamin A and iron. Keri Gans, a registered dietitian nutritionist, says you should “feel totally okay” about having canned pumpkin.
Myth: Cranberries need a ton of added sugar to taste good
- Truth: Because they’re tart, cranberries are usually made with lots of sugar for dishes like cranberry sauce. But they don’t have to be sugar minefield and if you cut back on the sugar in your cranberry sauce, it’ll still taste great.
Myth: Dark turkey meat is worse for you than breast meat.
- Truth: Gans says there’s some truth to that, because white meat contains less saturated fat and calories than dark meat, but the difference is negligible. Dark meat also contains a little more zinc, iron and selenium, so Gans says if you prefer the dark meat, go for it.
Myth: Post-meal is the best time to take a Thanksgiving nap.
- Truth: Lying down can lead to digestive issues, like heartburn and acid reflux, which is why Gans say it’s actually the worst time to take a nap, even though you may feel the couch calling after stuffing yourself. Plus, research shows there are benefits to being active post-meal, even a two to five-minute walk can lower blood sugar levels.