|By Robert Cohen Executive Director|
WARNING: Don't Trip on the Tryptophan
Each Thanksgiving, tryptophan warnings are issued because turkey protein contains an excess of this amino acid, and consumption of tryptophan can make you feel sleepy, affect your mood, and detract from your memory. In other words, the average American should not drive, debate, or take tests of any kind after his or her Thanksgiving meal. A Dutch study published in the November, 2002 issue of Brain, Behavior and Immunity (the official journal of the PsychoNeuroImmunology Research Society), found that tryptophan worked directly on the brain to alter cognitive functioning and produce mood swings and depression in human subjects. The investigators did find some good news. The scientists noted that the most powerful effects are noted 6-8 hours after ingestion. By that time, most turkey eaters are sleeping. The bad news: I decided to research and compare trytophan levels in turkey, cheese, and tofu. Turkey (the subject of this column) was used as the standard. According to USDA, a 100 gram portion (about 3.5 ounces) of roasted turkey breast meat and skin contains 0.318 grams of tryptophan. How much tryptophan is in cheddar cheese? This is not good news for cheeseheads. An equal portion of Wisconsin's finest cheddar contains a bit more tryptophan than turkey, 0.320 grams. Go easy on the Parmesian cheese. Parmesian contains 52 percent more tryptophan than cheddar at 0.482 grams. Good news for tofurkey eaters. Tofu contains just 0.085 grams of tryptophan, almost one-quarter that of cheddar cheese and turkey. Just for the record...the mozzarella cheese used on pizza contains 0.271 grams, nearly the same amount of tryptophan as turkey. Most Americans eat turkey on special occasions. Most Americans eat cheese on every occasion. Got cheese? Got tryptophan! Got tryptophan? Got drowsiness, mood swings, and possible memory loss.
Robert Cohen, author of: MILK A-Z
Executive Director (email@example.com)
Dairy Education Board
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