(Natural News) People often mention that eating late at night can be quite bad for your health. However, there are certain healthy foods you can eat that can not only satisfy your cravings but can also improve the quality of your sleep.
Satisfy your stomach without ruining your sleep
Recent research has linked late-night eating to increased weight gain. In fact, according to a study presented at SLEEP 2017, the 31st annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, eating late at night can increase your weight, insulin and cholesterol levels, as well as negatively affect your fat metabolism and hormonal markers implicated in heart disease, diabetes and other health problems. They also found that eating later also increased a series of measures reflecting negative metabolic profiles like insulin, fasting glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
According to Naomi Goel, lead author of the study, “Eating later can promote a negative profile of weight, energy, and hormone markers — such as higher glucose and insulin, which are implicated in diabetes, and cholesterol and triglycerides, which are linked with cardiovascular problems and other health conditions.”
However, if you’re truly hungry, other studies suggest that a small, nutrient-rich snack under 200 calories is generally enough to satisfy people at night. Some snacks even contain compounds that help you sleep better. Below you can find a list of healthy snacks that are sure to satisfy your midnight munchies. (Related: Who says bedtime snacks are bad? Here are some late-night snack options for people with diabetes.)
- Salmon and veggie salad. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, fish consumption, especially fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, like salmon, has a positive impact on sleep in general. In addition, adding more vitamin D to your diet can help prevent a deficiency, which is known to increase the risk of unhealthy sleep and sleep disorders. You can mix an ounce of salmon with a batch of leafy green vegetables to enjoy a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that improve overall health.
- Tart cherry juice mixed with chia seeds. Studies show that tart cherries can help you sleep better. This is because these red fruits contain the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. You can supplement tart cherry juice by adding chia seeds, which can give you healthy dietary fiber and the amino acid tryptophan, which can be used to make melatonin.
- Hummus with raw veggies. Give yourself a fiber boost by having a bit of hummus before bed. This traditional Mediterranean dish’s main ingredient is chickpeas, which are rich in tryptophan and folate. Folate can help regulate sleep patterns, especially in older adults. You can add an even more healthful boost by dipping in some raw vegetables like sliced bell peppers and cucumbers.
- Mashed banana topped with pumpkin seeds. The humble banana is another food that can significantly improve sleep. A study published in the Journal of Pineal Research found that eating two bananas can give a 4-fold increase in melatonin blood levels in just two hours after consumption. You can add pumpkin seeds as a garnish to add additional protein, fiber and magnesium. Magnesium can help induce a state of calm and relaxation that can help your body prepare itself for sleep.
- Avocado egg salad. You can mash half an avocado with a hard-boiled egg or two to create a scrumptious salad that provides a significant amount of easy-to-digest protein. Eggs, in particular, are a great food for good sleep; with one large egg containing about 83.5 milligrams of tryptophan.
- Kiwi and pistachios. This fuzz-skinned fruit is packed with the nerve messenger serotonin, which can induce a relaxing effect that can help you fall asleep better. In a study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that participants had a 35 percent decrease in the time it took them to fall asleep. They also slept about 13 percent longer and 5 percent better. Sprinkling in a bit of pistachio can add a boost in antioxidants and melatonin, which is known to have more melatonin than any other nut.
- Leftover sweet potato. Sweet potatoes contain carbs that can boost serotonin, making this root vegetable a fantastic food to snack on before bedtime. They are also a good source of vitamins A and C, both of which support the immune system.
If you’re really hungry late at night, a little snack shouldn’t be enough to tip the scales. Many of these foods can provide sleep-promoting compounds like tryptophan and melatonin. The best thing you can do is keep a few of these healthy snacks readily available at home so you can resist the urge to drop by a convenience store or fast food joint for a bite of unhealthy foods.
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