These Easy DNA Testing Kits Can Show You Things You Never Knew About Your Family History

Who isn't curious about their heritage? Even if your relatives have been telling you since childhood that you're a quarter this and 75 percent that, the truth is: The only way to really get a handle on your genetic makeup is by taking one of the best DNA testing kits on the market and uncovering the truth about your family's past.

These DNA kits are a technological achievement — one that makes it possible to spit into a cup (or swab your cheek), mail the results back to a lab, and wait impatiently for anywhere between four to eight weeks for online results. Some kits give you the option of adding a health report to your results (for an extra cost). But all of these top-notch kits include another incredible feature: The ability to peruse their extensive databases to find folks who share your genetic makeup and who might just be distant family members waiting to connect.

There are a few things to keep in mind before taking one of these tests. Depending on the number of people in a company's database, your results could vary slightly from test to test. And, of course, it's important to note that there may be privacy issues that arise from providing your genetic information to a company, and once they've got it you're trusting them to protect it. There's also the possibility that they won't tell the complete story about your past since we all carry various genes. One of the best ways to truly get a comprehensive glimpse into your genetic history is by giving your siblings and parents their very own tests and comparing the results. Can you think of a more fun Friday night than one spent DNA testing with the ones you love?

So, which DNA test should you rely on? We've got info on the top three right here.

An Oprah-Approved DNA Testing Kit That Lets You Connect With Family

Not only does this DNA test get the official Oprah Winfrey nod of approval (and that alone is proof of its quality), there are no additional lab fees required and it's simple to use. All you have to do is provide a saliva sample and send it back to the company, and in six to eight weeks you'll receive a full online report of your ancestry from 31 populations worldwide, including Neanderthal ancestry (assuming that applies to you).

This kit also provides an opportunity for you to connect with members of your extended family. The biggest difference between 23andMe and other kits is that this one pulls from a database of more than one million genotype customers and doesn't rely on birth, death, and marriage certificates. For an additional fee, you can upgrade and add health reports to your order.

A Best-Selling DNA Kit That Searches For Genetic Matches Across 165 Regions

One of the original DNA testing kits on the market, AncestryDNA continues to be a bestseller and favorite that boasts the ability to search across 165 regions (which it claims is five times more than the leading competitor) to locate your genetic matches. With a consumer DNA network of six million people, it has a huge pool from which to pull and can connect you with family members you didn't know you had.

One reviewer experienced a true life change because of this feature. As she puts it: "I was finally able to connect with my biological sister after 25 years of dreaming about doing so!"

The kit requires a saliva sample, which you mail back to the lab. In six to eight weeks you receive your results online and can search its global network for distant relatives.

A Spit-Free DNA Kit That Requires A Cheek Swab

If you're looking to save a few dollars but don't want to compromise on the accuracy of your DNA results, this DNA test kit is less money than competitors but provides a detailed ethnicity breakdown from 42 regions, including seven regions in East Asia. This kit is also perfect for anyone who isn't crazy about spitting into a cup — it provides what you need to take a simple cheek swab and send it back to the lab. This kit also promises to deliver results quicker than most: in just four weeks. You'll get an online breakdown of your ethnicity estimate with both paternal and maternal matches and access to the DNA matching service that allows you to locate relatives from around the world.

One reviewer said he tried all three of the DNA kits in this list, but the winner (in his opinion) proved to be MyHeritage.

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