FDU students explore Thanksgiving through a chemist’s eyes

By Emily Potrzuski

Students who were enrolled in the "Chemistry for the Health Sciences" class at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Metropolitan Campus recently compiled a book called “Thanksgiving Through the Eyes of a Chemist.” Taught by Anna Debska-Chwaja, adjunct professor of chemistry, students are able to get a better understanding of chemistry and how it relates to food as well as the cultural diversity of Thanksgiving.

thanksgivingEver wonder why your body gets tired after consuming so much turkey on Thanksgiving? While researching the amount of vitamins and nutrients that make up turkey, student Mary "Libby" Bell found that turkey contains a chemical called L-tryptophan, which your body metabolizes into serotonin and melatonin, making the body tired. Libby also found that turkey is often one of the healthiest parts of Thanksgiving dinner, a three and a half ounce serving contains 30 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat and only 161 calories.

Student Christopher Severino is from the Dominican Republic, so he celebrates Thanksgiving differently than most. Instead of serving turkey, the main dish at Severino’s Thanksgiving dinner is La Bandera, which means “the flag” in Spanish. This dish consists of white rice, stewed beans and a meat that is usually roasted or stewed. Packed with fat, protein, and fiber, this dish will leave your stomach full, leaving not much room for dessert.

Chemistry is a science that is present in everyone’s daily lives. By completing this project, students learned the role that foods play as energy sources, building materials, and regulators of our body activities. No matter how we celebrate Thanksgiving, it always is a great time to enjoy great food and even better company.