If you have Hispanic or Latino ancestry, you might be wondering which DNA is best for you. Some people are understandably skeptical about whether or not there is a DNA test out there that can provide accurate results for people who are of primarily non-European descent. And if there is such a test, which is the best test for Hispanic ancestry?
In this post, I will explain which test is best for Hispanic or Latino Ancestry and why.
Ancestry DNA offers the best test for Hispanic ancestry
If you are just looking for the quick answer, I will tell you that Ancestry DNA has the best test – by far. I’ve written a more detailed explanation, if you’d like to read further.
Why is Ancestry DNA’s test best for Latino ancestry?
Up until a few months ago, if you were to have asked me this exact question, I would have told you that there is no “best” test. Latin Americans are exceptionally genetically diverse, as a general rule, and there is no “typical” ancestry across all of these countries, despite misconceptions that everyone is descended from Spanish conquerors who intermarried with Native American women.
People from Latin America can show ethnicity from all over the world, including Asia, Europe and Africa. The DNA testing companies can show these ethnicities fairly easily. There are a few reasons that it has been difficult for companies to truly offer accurate DNA results for people with Latino ancestry. The primary reason is that most people whose families are from Latin America have at least some Native American DNA.
Ancestry DNA has recently added more than 30 different sub-regions in the Native American category. So if your family has Latino heritage, and might perhaps have some Native American ancestry, you will now be able to see which general region your Native American heritage is from, as well as your European, Asian, and African ancestry.
Why most companies usually don’t show specific regions under the Native American category
Previously, most test results simply reported “Native American” as a percentage, and showed the entire North and South American continents to illustrate where this DNA came from. This lack of detail was very frustrating for people interested in DNA testing, even though it wasn’t necessarily even the “fault” of the companies for not being able to provide these detailed results. There is a scientific explanation.
Explained simply, it is generally accepted that the entire population of North and South America was populated over the course of thousands of years by descendants of only one (or a few) small groups of people who migrated from Asia. This migration occurred many thousands of years ago, but when climate conditions changed, the population in these continents became genetically isolated. There was almost no admixture (fancy word for mixing) with other populations like there was in many other parts of the world.
This genetic isolation meant that people with Native American descent often show more in common with each other genetically, even across broad geographic regions, than people usually would in those circumstances. In populations that are descended from small groups, people are actually related to each other in many, many ways over the course of hundreds and thousands of years.
The main challenge for these testing companies is to develop a large enough database and a technology sensitive enough to report subtle differences in the DNA results, and give the test taker a more detailed geographic region for their Native American ancestry.
I am really happy that Ancestry DNA has taken this challenge seriously. They have promised to continue to add more specific regions and update results as they become available. I have already seen three kits that I manage be updated with these new regions (their test results previously only reported a general Native American category).
Please note that the available regions don’t cover much of the United States. They only cover parts of the southwestern United States. Hopefully they will eventually expand these regions to cover some of the indigenous regions of the US.