Those who have difficulty getting to sleep can sometimes benefit from a supplement with melatonin. But did you know that this sleep hormone naturally occurs in all kinds of seeds, nuts and fruit? We give you a top seven of melatonin-rich foods.
Unfortunately, it is not yet clear whether you will actually fall asleep faster from foods that contain a lot of melatonin. The investigations on this are contradictory. But scientists agree on one thing: certain foods, such as sour cherries, increase the amount of melatonin in the blood much more than others. This is the top seven.
Businesswoman Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, swears by a good glass of concentrated cherry juice before bed. Cherries, and in particular the (sour) Montmorency cherries, are packed with melatonin. There are several studies that point to the sleep-inducing effect of cherry juice. According to a small British study, test subjects not only fell asleep faster, they also slept longer. There is still a lot of research to be done into the alleged nightcap, but what do you mind trying it yourself? Then drink a concentrated juice, because a normal portion of cherries has little effect on the dike, according to experts.
The Chinese have been using them for centuries for sleep and stress problems, and according to an American study, certain goji berries can indeed improve sleep. Subjects who drank 120 milliliters of juice from the Lycium barbarum berry every day for at least two weeks (the equivalent of 150 grams of fresh goji berries) found that they slept much better and were not bothered by the nasty side effects of sleep medication. Trying out? Then buy fresh berries. Dried goji berries would no longer contain melatonin.
Several studies have shown that tomatoes can contain a lot of melatonin. Exactly how much, however, can vary considerably. For example, tomatoes growing in the shade seem to have much more of the sleep-inducing substance than their sun-loving brothers. A recent Latvian study shows that there is more melatonin in cherry tomatoes and tomato tomatoes than in Spain. It is striking that the exact opposite is true for chili peppers: the more sun they get, the higher their melatonin content.
Compared with cherries, pineapple contains much less melatonin. Yet Thai researchers saw that eating the exotic fruit had a clear effect on the melatonin level of their voluntary test subjects. For example, the amount of sleep hormone in their blood increased by no less than 255 percent. Whether the test subjects actually slept better, is unfortunately unknown. The researchers only wanted to discover what eating pineapple does with the melatonin content. But it seems like a good reason to put fresh pineapple on the menu.
More good news. The Thai researchers also included bananas in their research. And this fruit increased the amount of melatonin in the blood by 180 percent. Oranges resulted in a doubling. All sounds promising, but clearly more research is needed to find out how these fruits can actually contribute to a better night’s sleep.
It is healthy for several reasons to add a handful of mixed seeds to the salad more often. They are an important source of healthy fats and a good meat substitute. But in addition, seeds are also rich in melatonin. Mustard seeds in particular are full of them, so make a delicious mustard dressing for that salad! Flax seeds, sunflower seeds, fennel seeds and green cardamom also contain relatively much of the sleep hormone. Tip: to properly absorb the healthy substances in linseed, it is best to buy broken linseed.
Walnuts and almonds
In addition to vitamin E, omega 3 and magnesium, you also get a portion of natural melatonin with walnuts. For example, an American study shows that the amount of melatonin in the blood increases after eating walnuts. Almonds also contain a good deal of the sleep-inducing substance.
Nutrition center: normal portion insufficient
According to the European Food Safety Authority EFSA, melatonin-rich foods could only fall asleep faster if they contained at least one milligram of melatonin. And unfortunately you can never save that with a normal portion. The nutrition center also doubts whether it makes sense to eat a lot of cherries or tomatoes for a better night’s sleep. That does not alter the fact that it is healthy to eat fruit more often, because most people do that too little anyway. “We recommend fruit because it lowers the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke,” the Nutrition Center spokesperson explains. “Eating a piece of fruit is better than fruit juice, because drinking it again increases the risk of overweight and diabetes.”
People with sleeping problems are advised by the nutrition center to go to the doctor and not to drink caffeinated drinks before bedtime.