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What Is The Best Ancestry Test?

Written by Samantha Odake, BS | Last updated:

Interested in exploring your roots? Today, there are many options to choose from if you want to discover more about your ancestors. What is the best ancestry test, and what can you expect from your results? Let’s find out.

How do DNA tests work?

DNA tests trace your ancestry by using a reference database. In simple terms, your genotype is compared to the genotypes in the reference database to see which ethnicities of DNA yours is most similar to.

Some ancestry DNA tests also offer other services, such as maternal lineage and DNA family matching.

What is the best ancestry DNA test?

DNA tests have become more affordable in recent years, giving you a lot of options to choose from.

A good ancestry DNA test provides users with their ethnicity breakdown and the ability to track their ancestors’ path throughout history. Ancestry tests are usually easy to do, requiring a simple saliva sample or cheek swab.

Here are the 3 best ancestry tests:

SelfDecode

The SelfDecode Ancestry DNA test includes the following features:

  • Ancestry composition: Get a detailed breakdown of your ancestry with percentages.
  • Mitochondrial ancestry: Trace your maternal lineage back through the ages, discover your ancestral roots, and unlock your family history.
  • Detailed reports: Learn more about the history and culture connected to your DNA.

SelfDecode uses advanced AI technology to analyze over 83 million genetic variants and gives you an in-depth ethnicity percentage breakdown, as well as a color-coded map that can help you easily discover where you’re from.

Best Ancestry Test SelfDecode Ancestry Composition

Because of the larger number of data points analyzed, SelfDecode is able to provide an ethnicity breakdown that is more precise than other companies.

By analyzing your mitochondrial DNA, SelfDecode shows you the journey your maternal ancestors took to get where you are today. You’ll be able to trace your maternal lineage back through the ages, learning where they started in the world and the journey that they took to get to where you are today.

You can also learn more about the history and culture that is connected to your DNA through extensive reports that help you get an even better understanding of your roots.

best ancestry test SelfDecode mitochondrial DNA

In addition to ancestry reports, users who sign up for SelfDecode get access to 300+ DNA health & trait reports, comprehensive diet & nutrition and fitness reports, personalized health plans based on DNA results, their genotype results for 83M+ SNPs, and more.

AncestryDNA

AncestryDNA is another popular option, offering a DNA kit that tests around 700,000 genetic variants or SNPs. Reports include ethnicity estimates, DNA matches, and common ancestors.

One feature that stands out from Ancestry is their extensive customer database, which may be a plus if your goal is to find distant relatives. However, AncestryDNA does not track maternal and paternal heritages independently, nor do they trace your ancient migration path out of Africa.

Below you can view a sample report from Ancestry.

23andMe

23andMe was founded in 2006 by Anne Wojcicki, Linda Avey, and Paul Cusenza, and is one of the pioneers of direct-to-consumer DNA testing.

23andMe tests around 650,000 SNPs. Your DNA results are compared to a database of people whose ancestry is known to determine your ancestry. They also provide the migration paths for maternal and paternal lineages, trait reports, a DNA relative finder, and a family tree builder.

The reports are presented in a user-friendly way, which makes navigating the results easy. You can view a sample ancestry composition from 23andMe below.

It’s worth mentioning that there may be some privacy concerns concerning how 23andMe handles users’ genetic data.

What else can a DNA test tell you?

Users who are looking for the best ancestry DNA test may also be able to learn more about their health and traits. Some DNA tests such as SelfDecode and 23andMe also offer health insights.

DNA tests for health analyze a person’s genes and look for changes or differences in their genetic code that can have an impact on their health, both mentally and physically. Then, companies can measure s user’s risks for certain health conditions.

One thing that differentiates SelfDecode from 23andMe is that SelfDecode also provides a list of personalized recommendations that are prioritized according to the person’s DNA. SelfDecode also offers more insights, with 300+ health & trait reports and 600+ personalized genetic blog posts, plus many other health-related features like their lab analyzer.

Below you can view a snippet of a sample health report from SelfDecode:

Ancestry-adjusted health scores

We’ve reviewed what are the best ancestry tests, but is ancestry important for health insights?

Yes!

Ancestry-adjusted genetic insights can provide more accurate results, because people’s risk for a health condition is affected by differences in the way genes are distributed across different ethnic or racial groups.

SelfDecode is the only company in the world that provides ancestry-adjusted polygenic risk scores, adding your ancestry into the calculation to give you the best polygenic risk scores to get the full picture of your health.

Privacy concerns

Both 23andMe and AncestryDNA have had privacy concerns in the past.

In 2018, 23andMe announced that pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline had purchased a $300 million stake in the company and would use genetic data from 23andMe customers to develop new drugs, which raised privacy concerns for consumers.

Ancestry also participates in biomedical research with both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. This means that the company may monetize your DNA data if you opt into its research program.

SelfDecode makes a strict commitment to never share nor sell the information of its users to other companies, a practice that is unfortunately common in the DNA testing industry, as seen in the examples above.

Takeaway: How to choose the best ancestry test

When it comes to ancestry testing, there are many options for customers to choose from. In this article, we reviewed what is the best ancestry test and what other things you can expect from a DNA test, such as health insights.

While 23andMe and Ancestry have both been in the market for years, they have both had privacy concerns in the past and may not offer the most comprehensive health features, which may lead customers to seek other alternatives.

SelfDecode uses AI to analyze more data points (83M genetic variants) and utilizes more advanced ancestry models, which results in more accurate results for the user.

SelfDecode is able to identify the ancestral background of people from different populations with high precision and also provide ancestry-adjusted health insights, helping users get healthy and learn about their family history and where their ancestors come from without compromising their privacy.

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About the Author

Samantha Odake

Samantha Odake

BS
Samantha is an engineer turned writer with a passion for helping people.

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