7 Healthy Late-Night Snacks

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I typically get a second wind in the evening, and when my energy picks up, so does my appetite.

As a dietitian, I’m a firm believer in eating when you are hungry. Among my clients, I’ve seen that trying to go to bed with a growling tummy can interfere with falling asleep and getting a quality night of shut-eye.

The trick to a healthy late-night snack is to choose one that’s filling enough to satisfy, but light enough to prevent a calorie surplus, which can lead to unwanted weight gain.

This mini meal should also be rich in nutrients, to supply the building blocks your body uses for maintenance, healing, and repair work—jobs that take place while you sleep.

Some healthy late-night snacks can even help you get better sleep. Here are my top seven picks.

Tart cherry juice mixed with chia seeds

Tart cherry juice, a natural source of melatonin, has been shown in several studies to improve sleep. In one small study, women 50 years and older with insomnia drank eight ounces of either tart cherry juice or a placebo in the morning and one to two hours before bed. After a few weeks, those drinking the real thing slept nearly an hour and a half more per night and improved sleep efficiency (the percentage of time spent asleep while in bed). The addition of a few tablespoons of chia seeds provides not only fiber and plant protein but tryptophan, a precursor to melatonin. Bonus: both tart cherry juice and chia seeds are top anti-inflammatory foods.

Mashed banana topped with pumpkin seeds

A comfort food for many, bananas have been shown to boost blood melatonin levels. They’re also packed with potassium, which supports healthy blood pressure, heart function, and muscle contractions. Potassium helps prevent muscle cramps too. Mash and garnish this fruit with an ounce of pumpkin seeds, which supply plant protein, fiber, heart-healthy fat, zinc for immunity and healing, and magnesium. The latter mineral helps induce a state of calm and relaxation that prepares your body for sleep and plays a role in melatonin regulation.

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