They’re one of the world’s favourite fruits (or berries depending on your definition) due to their sweet taste and ability to be made into wine, but grapes are special for other reasons too. Eating grapes before bed could actually help you sleep, protect you from disease and boost your immune system. We explain how, next.
Grapes before bed: The surprising sleep aid
Evidence exists that grapes have been cultivated by humans since 6500 BC! However it’s not the history of this food that makes it so interesting. Rather it’s the fact that grapes are actually a natural sleep aid.
That’s because eating grapes before bed can directly help you sleep due to the presence of melatonin in grapes. This hormone regulates the sleep-wake cycle and is so important to our sleep health that often individuals who are struggling to sleep – or have been diagnosed with insomnia – are prescribed melatonin.
The fact grapes are a natural source of the sleep hormone melatonin means this remarkable berry could act as a sleep aid for individuals suffering with insomnia.
Grapes are also a good source of tryptophan – an essential amino acid that we don’t produce naturally, and which we must obtain through diet. Supplementing with this amino acid appears to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep as tryptophan helps your body produce that all important sleep hormone – melatonin! Therefore eating grapes before bed could be a great way to top up your natural melatonin levels at the right time.
That’s not all. Grapes are also a rich source of folate – known as Vitamin B9. This essential vitamin tends to be low in individuals that suffer from insomnia and sleep disorders, so topping up folate levels by eating grapes could directly help sleep quality.
There is one caveat though. Grapes have a high sugar content, so if you’re watching your sugar consumption then it’s best to only eat a small handful of grapes in the evening.
Eating grapes before bed could help sleep quality and onset due to the presence of melatonin, tryptophan, and folate. All of which have been shown to have an effect on sleep quality.
Eating grapes before bed: Any other HEALTH benefits?
Any food that helps you get a good night’s sleep is welcomed, but did you know grapes also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties? The reason for that is due to the presence of anthocyanins – a compound that gives them their distinct color!
That’s important as many major diseases like heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s are often linked to chronic inflammation. Therefore incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet – like grapes and strawberry – is a no-brainer.
Antioxidant foods are also important for sleep as antioxidants appear to have a direct effect on sleep quality, as they support the immune system and help promote restfulness at night.
In fact antioxidant rich foods – such as grapes – help protect your body and can even reverse damage that has been done by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress comes about when there’s an imbalance between free radical molecules (which can cause harm) and antioxidants. That imbalance then causes illness and tissue damage. The result can be the development of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and many others. Therefore eating antioxidant foods – like chia seeds or grapes – should be a priority.
The science has been backed up too. Grapes have been shown in studies to be a source ‘of many potential anticancer and cancer chemopreventive agents’, have been shown to potentially prevent Alzheimer’s. They also appear to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, and potentially lower blood pressure.
Grapes have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Because of that, several studies have shown eating grapes to have a positive effect on health, protect against disease, and boost the immune system.
Eating grapes before bed: Incorporating them into your diet
Grapes can be found in shops and supermarkets around the world. They are delicious and can be eaten in their natural form, and so are easy to incorporate into your diet. If you can, always choose fresh red or purple grapes over white grapes for the best health benefits and nutrients.
There are many different ways to incorporate grapes into your diet too. You can use them as a topping for porridge, yoghurt or muesli, as part of a smoothie or fruit salad, or even eaten with ice cream. A glass of red wine with your evening meal will also provide some of the health benefits of grapes, however more than one glass could end up being detrimental for your health.
Eating Grapes before bed: What about side effects?
If you’re not allergic to grapes then moderate consumption of grapes shouldn’t cause any side effects. However eating grapes in excess could lead to weight gain due to the high sugar content, as well as side effects like bloating, gas, diarrhoea and heartburn due to the acidity.
As always, we recommend consulting with your doctor if undertaking a diet change, or if you have concerns about how a specific food may interact with any preexisting conditions or medicines.