Nature's Own Melatonin: Cherries
The Natural Way to Get Melatonin
Melatonin is often called the "sleep hormone" and the "hormone of darkness." As a result, doctors have been writing prescriptions for melatonin for people who have a hard time falling asleep at night. Unfortunately, like with other synthetic drugs, there are side effects, such as nightmares, sleepwalking, confusion, changes in blood pressure, headaches and abdominal pain. The prescription drug can also affect how other medications you are taking will work. Could nature be telling us to look to what's natural for healing and not a synthetic which does not belong in our bodies?
This is the beauty of cherries. In fact, nutritional research shows that tart raw cherries are one of the only foods that happens to be naturally highest in melatonin. Trace amounts may be found in other fruits, vegetables, grain and meat.
But First, What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone naturally occurring in humans, animals, plants and microbes. It is involved in regulating our sleeping and waking patterns. Melatonin is also an antioxidant and the highest levels of melatonin are secreted into the blood at bedtime.
How Can Cherries Help?.
Fresh organic cherries, when in season, are a great evening snack before bed. Another choice if you want to try cherries when fresh ones are not available is to drink 8 ounces of cherry juice. This however, would make me get up in the middle of the night to race to the bathroom with my cat nipping my heels - it's all fun and games for her.
What About Nutrtional Benefits:
Cherries are high in Vitamin C and provide minerals such as potassium. Cherries also provide beta carotene, fiber and have a high water content that is good for hydration - an ideal summer snack. Additionally, cherries are high in plant sterols. These sterols help lower "bad" (LDL) cholesterol. According to WebMd, preliminary research indicates that people with gout can reduce their risk in half by eating 20 cherries per day.
The Wisdom of Our Elders:
Like many of our parents, grandparents and elders, food was eaten for it's nutritional value to keep us well and much more. Eating cherries for sleep makes me think of those summer nights in the late 50s when we children just could not settle down. My mother would give us some cherries and next thing you know...zzzzzz!
Other times of the year when we were indoors because of the weather, early darkness and were trying never to fall asleep, my father would make a big deal out of bringing home peanuts. He'd roast them and we'd flock around and then munch. Next thing you know...zzzzzz! Peanuts are a dense protein and is also recommended as a sleep aid. (See link below for the healthy benefits of nuts as well as peanuts).
For more nutritional snacks see the links below:
Will You Try Cherries as a Sleep Aid?
How Will You Take Your Cherries?
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