Melatonin intake has amazing unique health benefits. Most noteworthy, melatonin helps you sleep at night. Consuming foods high in melatonin, such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, bananas, cherries, strawberries, and oats is good for you.
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that the human body naturally produces.
The main function of melatonin is to regulate sleep. It’s the internal clock of the human body.
Therefore, melatonin levels rise before bedtime. Moreover, melatonin levels are high during night sleep. Eating foods high in melatonin may help in cases of insomnia, jet lag, or night shift.
Other health benefits of melatonin
Certainly, melatonin is much more than a sleeping hormone.
Many studies have been conducted about the health benefits of melatonin. Melatonin (1):
- has antioxidant activity,
- has anti-inflammatory characteristics,
- boosts immune system,
- has anticancer activity,
- can protect the cardiovascular system,
- has anti-diabetic activities,
- can help against obesity,
- has neuroprotective properties,
- is a powerful anti-aging agent.
Can drinks and foods high in melatonin help you sleep at night?
Scientific data has shown that consumption of foods high in melatonin can significantly increase the melatonin concentration in the human body (1). So, natural sources of melatonin could help you sleep at night.
Certainly, consuming melatonin containing foods may provide many other health benefits, as well.
How much melatonin does the human body naturally produce?
Each human body produces different amounts of melatonin daily. The amount of melatonin, we can produce naturally, depends on many factors. Melatonin production varies considerably among individuals. For instance, melatonin production decreases with aging. Being overweight may be bad for melatonin production, as well.
Another factor that may be bad for melatonin production is light exposure at night. Especially exposure to blue light inhibits the natural melatonin synthesis by the body.
The human body can naturally produce about 10–80 mcg of melatonin per night. On the other hand, it doesn’t produce any significant amounts of melatonin at the daytime (2).
Furthermore, the human body doesn’t store melatonin. It is instantly released into the blood. Melatonin is excreted in urine.
How much melatonin do we need daily?
Most people will never experience melatonin deficiency.
Certainly, melatonin supplements contain high melatonin doses. Much higher doses than the human body can naturally produce. Even melatonin containing foods can’t provide such high doses of melatonin.
Most commercial melatonin supplements contain doses of 3-5 mg of melatonin per tablet. That can be 60 times more, than our bodies can naturally synthesize per night.
So, before taking melatonin supplements you should consult your health care provider. Especially if you’re on medication.
How much melatonin in pistachios?
Many nuts are good natural food sources of melatonin. Certainly, pistachios are the best food source. Pistachios contain the highest melatonin content of 23.3 mcg per 100 grams.
So, pistachios are considered the best food snack to help you sleep.
But, how many pistachios you should eat to help you sleep? Eat a handful of pistachios. They can help you with insomnia or jet lag.
1 oz of pistachios contains about 6.5 mcg of melatonin. That’s enough to help you sleep.
Do walnuts & almonds help you sleep?
Nuts are plant-based foods that have the highest melatonin contents. Besides pistachios, walnuts and almonds are also good sources of melatonin.
Almonds have about 3.9 mcg of melatonin per 100 gr.
Moreover, walnuts contain about 0.35 mcg of melatonin per 100 gr.
Therefore, nuts, such as almonds and walnuts are a good snack before bedtime. They could help you sleep, or improve sleep quality.
Are fruits high in melatonin?
Generally speaking, most fruits don’t contain any significantly amount of melatonin.
Only grapes, strawberries, cherries, and bananas seem to contain adequate amounts of melatonin, enough to help you sleep at night.
Banana is a fruit rich in melatonin
Bananas are common melatonin containing fruits. 100 gr of a banana has 0.07 mcg of melatonin. Practically, a banana has about 0.09 mcg of melatonin.
That may not sound much, but banana consumption can increase the melatonin concentration in the body. According to a study, eating banana increased the melatonin concentration in the body about 330% (3).
Furthermore, drinking orange or pineapple juice had the same effect. Pineapple juice increased the melatonin concentration about 200%. Orange juice increased the melatonin concentration about 280%.
How much melatonin in cherries, strawberries & grapes?
Besides bananas, there are many other fruits naturally rich in melatonin, that can actually help you sleep at night:
- Cherries are among the richest fruits in melatonin. They contain about 1.34 mcg of melatonin per 100 gr.
- Strawberries are also plant-based foods high in melatonin. They contain about 1.12 mcg of melatonin per 100 gr.
- Grapes are among the highest melatonin containing fruits. As there are many grape varieties, the melatonin content of grapes varies greatly. Most grape varieties have about 0.1 mcg of melatonin per 100 gr. On the other hand, there are some grape varieties that contain more than 15 mcg per 100 gr. Even grape juice is rich in melatonin. It contains about 0.05 mcg of melatonin per 100 mL.
- Orange juice has about 0.3-2.2 mcg of melatonin per 100 mL, depending on orange varieties.
- Pineapples are melatonin containing fruits, as well. The melatonin content of pineapples is about 0.03 mcg per 100 gr.
So, eating these fruits late in the evening may help you sleep better at night.
Cereals are good plant-based sources of melatonin
Most cereals are great natural sources of melatonin. Therefore, cereals could help you sleep at night.
For instance, cereals high in melatonin are:
- corn is a good food source of melatonin. The mean melatonin content of corn is 9.6 mcg per 100 gr. Corn varieties vary greatly in melatonin content, though. There are corn varieties that contain more than 200 mcg of melatonin per 100 gr.
- rice is another cereal rich in melatonin. The mean amount of melatonin content per 100 gr is 1.6 mcg. The highest amount of melatonin in rice, ever measured is 26.4 mcg per 100 gr.
- wheat is food that is also naturally high in melatonin. Wheat contains about 12.5 of melatonin per 100 gr.
- barley is also a good source of melatonin. Melatonin in barley is about 8.2 mcg per 100 gr.
- oats are the last common cereal rich in melatonin. Oats contain approximately 9.1 mcg of melatonin per 100 gr.
Therefore, eating corn, rice, wheat, barley, or oatmeal can help you sleep better at night. These foods may help you with hag over, or jet lag issues, as well.
Another tip… Crumb has higher melatonin levels than the crust of bread.
Vegetables are melatonin containing foods
Certainly, melatonin exists in lots of common vegetables, but only a few veggies are excellent sources:
- peppers have about 1.2 mcg of melatonin per 100 gr. Dried peppers contain about 9.3 mcg per 100 gr. Melatonin concentration greatly increases in dried products.
- tomatoes are also good sources of melatonin. Fresh tomatoes have about 1.4 mcg of melatonin per 100 gr. Dried tomatoes are pretty high in melatonin, as well. Dried tomatoes have about 25 mcg per 100 gr.
- mushrooms are among the most melatonin rich foods you can have. Especially certain mushroom varieties, such as Basidiomycota and Agaricus bisporus. These mushroom varieties contain up to 1290 mcg and 640 mcg of melatonin respectively. That’s for 100 gr of dried mushrooms. Melatonin content of mushrooms varies greatly, though. For instance, it depends on mushroom variety, cultivation practices, and light.
Vegetables can help you sleep better at night, for another reason. Their high melatonin content may not be the only way that veggies help you sleep. According to a study, women who ate most vegetables, naturally produced more melatonin (2). Therefore, eating plant-based foods or foods high in melatonin in general, could naturally help the human body to produce more melatonin.
Can beans help you sleep better?
Beans and legumes contain a decent amount of melatonin. In most cases, melatonin content isn’t enough to really help you sleep at night. You should eat other foods high in melatonin, in order, to deal with insomnia or jet lag.
Microgreens & sprouts may increase the melatonin content of seeds
It’s no secret that microgreens and sprouts have amazing health benefits. Their nutritional value is superior, compared with seeds.
Melatonin concentration is no exception. Germination of seeds increases greatly their melatonin content.
For example, the melatonin content in germinated soybean seeds was increased 400%. Moreover, the melatonin content in germinated mung beans was increased more than 11 times (1).
What drinks contain melatonin?
Beer and wine has a negligible content of melatonin. Beer has 0.01 mcg of melatonin per 100 mL.
Additionally, wine has up to 12.9 mcg per 100 mL. It greatly depends on grape variety, though.
As someone probably drinks more than 100 mL of beer or wine, these beverages can influence melatonin levels in the body.
Surprisingly, coffee is another drink rich in melatonin. Coffee beans are among the best melatonin containing foods. For instance, roasted arabica coffee beans contain up to 960 mcg of melatonin per 100 gr.
Analytically, a cup of coffee is estimated to contain up to 40 mcg of melatonin. Certainly, drinking a cup of coffee before sleeping isn’t a good idea. Due to its high caffeine content. Caffeine reduces the body’s ability to naturally produce melatonin (2). So, it seems a good idea to prefer decaffeinated coffee after noon.