Tag Archives: insomnia

He’s Nutty – and Seedy – and a Bad Apple. It’s Just Bananas!

He’s nutty – and seedy – and a bad apple. It’s just bananas! Since when did nuts and seeds – and apples and bananas get such a bum rap? Apparently, a long time ago. Online Etymology Dictionary indicates that “nutty” goes back to 1846 when “off one’s nut” meant being crazy in the head – nut and head being synonymous. “Seedy” was also used back in the 1800’s and referred to something “no longer fresh or new”…like a plant that has gone to seed. In 1736 Benjamin Franklin stated that “a rotten apple spoils its companion.” “Bananas”- referring to crazy – is much more recent…maybe the 1960’s and connected to “going ape.”

But let’s put these common expressions aside and instead focus on all that’s good about nuts, seeds, apples, and bananas. In fact, let’s narrow it down even more. How about a little research into how nuts, seeds, apples and bananas can help us sleep better (and I’ll bet there are a lot of you out there craving a good night’s sleep)?

AARP (whose writers probably know something about sleep issues) published an article on the seven “Superfoods” that can help you sleep better. Pumpkin seeds and nuts were among those seven. The Cleveland Clinic suggests a bedtime snack of bananas or apples – or maybe some sour cherry juice.

(A personal aside: a small study from LSU showed that adults with insomnia who drank 8 ounces of tart cherry juice twice a day for 2 weeks slept 84 minutes longer and reported better sleep quality compared to when they didn’t drink the juice, so we dutifully bought our first-ever bottle of sour cherry juice. I’m still working on convincing myself I’ll like it, but Andy is practically addicted. In fact, he ran into the Sonoma Market just yesterday to pick up another bottle. Try it when you need some sleep!)

I wanted dried sour cherries for my mix – and it’s next to impossible to find them without added sugar. These are pricey but delicious.

The key seems to be what has the most melatonin, selenium, zinc, and magnesium. There are numerous studies published online that verify their effectiveness – not only for sleep but for many other ailments. As part of the NIH website, the National Library of Medicine is a good source for reliable data on all of this.

In looking at specific nuts and seeds, one question is whether roasting them decreases some of their nutritional value. While it appears most nuts and seeds lose some nutritional value after roasting, an LSU study showed that pistachios contain exceptionally high amounts of melatonin, whether they’re roasted or not. Other studies indicate peanuts actually have more melatonin after roasting.

The only catch remaining, as I worked toward putting together the perfect sleep-inducing trail mix, was that I wanted the ingredients to be eco-friendly. That’s why you don’t see almonds appearing on my list. Living in California and being hyper-aware of drought make me think we need to avoid these water-needy trees (and 82% of the world’s almonds come from here! Shocking?!).

Walnuts growing in California. Walnuts are not only a great health food, but in this water-stressed state, UCDavis research indicates that walnut trees may actually produce BETTER if water-stressed.

The data on nuts and seeds is all over the place, depending upon whether you’re researching health benefits, or water usage, or labor issues. Here’s how a recent paper, entitled “Environmental, nutritional and social assessment of nuts” from researchers at The Institute of Environmental Sciences in the Netherlands ranked nuts and seeds:

Whoops. I did have one last desire in finalizing my recipe. And that was that it be gender-neutral :). I was searching for a good pre-made mix at our local market and came across the package pictured below (mind you, I didn’t see one that said “Women’s Energy Mix”). I figured it must contain some ginger or pomegranate…or maybe even dried oysters, since they all boost testosterone levels – but no. It remains to be seen why this is for men.

Listed ingredients: Raisins (raisins, sunflower oil), Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Papaya (papaya, cane sugar), Dry Roasted Almonds, Cranberries (cranberries, cane sugar, cranberry seed oil), Dry Roasted Cashews, Dark Chocolate Raisins (dark chocolate [unsweetened chocolate, cane sugar, cocoa butter, soy or sunflower lecithin {emulsifier}, vanilla], raisins [raisins, sunflower oil], pure food glaze), Cherries, Walnuts, Organic Pineapple, Apples, Pine Nuts.

Putting together your own mix is cheaper and gives you the ability to pick and choose your favorites, but if you insist on buying a packaged trail mix Consumers’ Reports has some brand suggestions and even two recipes. Their advice is to always check the sugar and salt content.

We like dark chocolate chips in our trail mix – but don’t let the trail mix sit in the sun!

Are you sleepy yet?

If you’re still not convinced you need to improve your sleep, there is research hot off the press from UC Berkeley (Go Bears!). This new study verifies that those who are sleep-deprived show a decreased desire to help others. Eti Ben Simon, a scientist at the university who co-wrote the study, states in a news release, “If you’re not getting enough sleep, it doesn’t just hurt your own well-being, it hurts the well-being of your entire social circle, including strangers.” We could speculate on some politicians who are not getting enough sleep! 🙂

Speaking of politics – which we don’t really do much on BigLittleMeals – be sure to check out Andy’s Corner for today. He’s got another video to share, and it’s perfect…and funny.

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