Consuming food at night can be troublesome, but choosing an appropriate evening snack can prevent health problems and even help you sleep better.
Late at night if you are feeling famished, you may want to grab any meal available, without thinking of the consequences, in order to satisfy your hunger.
We have all been there, but let’s not forget that choosing healthy late-night snacks to satisfy your cravings is important to nurture a healthier body and mind.
Eating certain foods late at night might lead to serious health issues and can develop into a bad habit that is not easy to quit. Opting for junk food before bed can increase body fat and cause indigestion and heartburn.
Nighttime cravings can stem from a variety of reasons. For example, scientists have found that sometimes our body naturally craves higher-calorie food before bed because our internal circadian clock increases hunger in the evening.
Another factor could be Night Eating Syndrome (NES), a disorder that encourages the body to consume more food at night instead of during the day. Some of its symptoms include feeling full in the morning and skipping breakfast, not eating enough during the day, eating large amounts of food in the evening and at night, insomnia, waking up frequently during the night, and feeling sad and anxious in the evening.
It might be easy to blame some of the reasons for our nighttime cravings on our ancestors. However, we hold the power to make healthier choices that will benefit our body and mind in the long run.
Fortunately, there is no need to deny ourselves a tasty snack at night as long as it is healthy. These five healthy late-night snacks are beneficial for both your body and sleep quality.
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Banana or apple slices with peanut butter
Bananas and apples contain healthy carbs. When you add peanut butter into the mix, you have a tasty snack to help fulfill your cravings without causing you digestion problems or heartburn at night.
Apples are also rich in vitamin C, which helps regulate blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and improve your breathing. Meanwhile, bananas are a good source of magnesium, which helps calm stress hormones. All these elements are great components for a good night of sleep.
These two fruits also have a significant amount of potassium, which aids in muscle relaxation. Peanut butter contains healthy fat and an amino acid called tryptophan that helps the body create melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and promotes sleepiness.
Moroccan roasted carrots
This snack is the perfect combination of sweet, salty, and earthy Moroccan flavors, all of which will help satisfy your hunger while also benefiting from the snack’s healthy values.
Carrots are rich in potassium and vitamin B6, as well as vitamin A and biotin. These sleep-promoting nutrients and vitamins are what you should be looking for in a healthy late-night snack.
All you need is to roast chopped carrots in some olive oil and add spices such as cumin paprika, cinnamon, and turmeric. Then, after blending the ingredients together, you can squeeze a bit of lemon juice for flavor and serve with goat cheese, chopped pistachios, and golden raisins.
Olive oil is used to treat insomnia, balances blood sugar, helps in relaxation, and reduces inflammation. Goat cheese is rich in calcium, another mineral that helps the brain release melatonin.
There are so many fruits that are rich in fiber, minerals, and the vitamins that promote melatonin. Making a salad of different types of these fruits can satisfy your sweet tooth, keep you healthy, and prevent you from consuming too many calories.
Besides being great melatonin inducers, some of these fruits offer other great health benefits. Tart cherries, which have anti-inflammatory benefits, may protect against inflammation-related conditions like arthritis and heart disease.
Kiwis are one of the few fruits that contain a good amount of serotonin. They also contain antioxidants, which have a relaxing effect and can help you fall asleep easier. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C.
Pistachios or pumpkin seeds
Pistachios and pumpkin seeds are tasty, contain many healthy elements, and are easy to grab. They are a convenient choice for snacking after a long day of work or errands, when you do not have the energy to prepare anything else.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan and magnesium, both of which have been linked to promoting better sleep. They are also high in fiber, which is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. You can roast them and season them with salt or garlic powder for enhanced flavor.
Pistachios contain the highest level of sleep-promoting melatonin, protein, and vitamin B6. In fact, 28 grams of pistachios have 160 healthy calories and about 6.5 milligrams of melatonin.
Read also: How to Achieve a Better Night’s Sleep
Avocado, egg, and yogurt salad
This is a great choice for a late-night meal because it is packed with healthy components and delicious ingredients that will satisfy your hunger throughout the night after helping you fall asleep.
Eggs are a natural source of melatonin and tryptophan. Their richness in protein will help you maintain good blood sugar balance while sleeping. One large egg contains 72 calories and 38 milligrams of tryptophan.
Avocados are high in unsaturated fat, which can increase serotonin levels, and are rich in magnesium. As we mentioned before, these are the main nutritious components that will increase the quality and quantity of your sleep.
You can mix chopped boiled eggs with avocado slices and greek yogurt, and season the combination with celery, paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper. You can also add other ingredients as you prefer, as long as they are not canned food or high in calories.
Popcorn is a great choice because it is filling, contains a significant amount of fiber, and is low in calories. In fact, three cups of popcorn have less than 100 calories.
In addition to fiber, popcorn is rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help in blood circulation and digestive health and potentially lower risk of certain cancers.
Popcorn also offers variety as a snack. You can choose whether you want it salty or sweet, either by adding salt and some pepper or honey and cinnamon, which are all healthy ingredients that are proven to promote sleep.
Being hungry at night and craving food that is not necessarily good for your health is normal. Unfortunately, consuming a large amount of food late at night can hinder your sleep and might cause health problems.
Nonetheless, that does not mean that you can’t enjoy a lighter and healthier snack to fulfill your hunger, help you sleep better, and even improve your long-term health.