Don't Forget Your Fruits and Veggies!

May 31, 2018
by Melissa Makatchie

Don't Forget Your Fruits and Veggies!

June is National Fruits and Veggies Month—what an awesome thing to celebrate! Buying local and fresh…. It really doesn’t get much better than that. Eating fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies is extremely beneficial, that’s a given. We’ve heard from our loved ones our entire lives, “make sure you eat your vegetables!!”

It makes a lot of sense, ya know, with all the vitamins and nutrients packed in, which is critical for our everyday health, but how does that affect your sleep? We often look past the fact that these vitamins and nutrients we consume also support a handful of biological processes relating to the functions your body carries out while you sleep. 

So, we know that vegetables are a healthy option, and they are 100% necessary if you want to live a healthy lifestyle, but there are a few veggies that really make a difference when it comes to sleep. Leafy greens like spinach and collard greens contain tryptophan, which is an amino acid that once ingested, turns into the neurotransmitter, serotonin, which then is converted into melatonin. Ever felt super tired after Thanksgiving dinner? You can thank tryptophan for that!

Turkey contains tryptophan, too, but it’s a no brainer that turkey isn’t nearly as nutritious as collard greens or spinach. Carrots also fall under one of those veggies that will improve your sleep because they’re packed with alpha carotene, which has been proven to help people fall asleep. Gram for gram, carrots are the biggest source for alpha carotene, right behind canned pumpkin. People that lack alpha carotene in their diet usually have a difficult time falling asleep.   

One of the very best foods to eat if you’re looking for some quality shuteye is cherries. It’s one of the only foods that naturally contains melatonin, which is the natural hormone that produces sleep.

Kiwifruit comes in tied for first with cherries/cherry juice. Research has shown major sleep benefits for any food that can naturally provide your body the melatonin it loves. 

Fruits hands-down deliver the most diverse vitamins and minerals.  Foods like watermelon, tomatoes and bell peppers bring vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and calcium. 

Calcium works rigorously to help the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture melatonin. It also strengthens and calms the nervous system, which gives you the same effect that yoga would.  Here’s something to think about that most of us unfortunately don’t give much thought to. Think about when you begin falling into poor sleeping habits, it naturally leads to having a poor diet.

And an unhealthy diet keeps you up at night and leaves your body feeling restless. Keeping a healthy diet by eating a sustainable amount of fruits and vegetables, is the best way to maintain a healthy weight.  Those who have a healthy sleep routine overall generally have better health. 

In fact, there have been studies linking lack of sleep to overeating. Your body feels lethargic and lazy, so you’re less likely to be in the kitchen whipping up a 4-course meal. Instead, not only is your body naturally craving processed sugars and carbs for a quick pick-me-up, but you’re also going to go for the quickest, easiest option possible; even if that means a speedy trip through the notorious McDonald’s drive thru. It’s a never-ending cycle, and the result is that you’re faced with sleep deprivation and living an unhealthy lifestyle.

Eating seasonally and locally is more environmentally-friendly. It supports your body’s natural nutritional needs and you avoid any oversea contaminates. The fruits and veggies you’re consuming are fresher – resulting in a higher nutritional value and better taste, plus, it’s cheaper! (Especially if you can shop at your local farmers market!) Any time farmers harvest a lump sum of produce due to crop being in season, it will result in the cost of produce going down. You won’t be left paying any sort of traveling expenses and production costs that would typically be passed down to the consumer.  

There are several reasons to eat seasonally besides just sleep, although getting a satisfying night’s rest by eating fruits and veggies in season is enough of a reason for me. National Fruits and Veggies month gives us the opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate what we put in our bodies. With summer right around the corner, your body naturally adjusts, but giving it that extra helping hand by feeding your body the correct nutrients it craves will always work in your favor. Here are some of in-season fruits and vegetables you can find locally that will improve your sleep with every bite you take!

Seasonal Summer Fruits to Help You Improve Your Sleep:

  • Apples 
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Honeydew
  • Kiwi
  • Mangos
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

Seasonal Veggies That Will Improve Your Slumber:

  • Avocado
  • Beets
  • Bell Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Collard Greens
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Green Beans
  • Lima Beans
  • Okra
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomatillos
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini