It’s one of the world’s favourite foods, but peanut butter doesn’t have to be just a guilty pleasure snack. In fact eating peanut butter before bed could actually have benefits for your sleep and overall health. We explain how, next.
Eating peanut butter before bed: The surprising sleep aid
Although eaten for decades, it’s only recently that we’ve discovered that eating peanut butter before bed may actually benefit sleep.
That’s because peanut butter is a rich 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 serotonin and an all important sleep hormone – melatonin.
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. Therefore eating peanut butter at night appears a great way to top up your natural melatonin levels at the right time.
It doesn’t end there either. Peanut butter is an excellent source of magnesium. Why’s that notable? Well supplementing with magnesium has been shown to help relieve symptoms of insomnia and improve sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep onset. It’s also been shown to reduce anxiety – one of the leading causes of insomnia.
Peanut butter is also a good source of folate – known as Vitamin B9. This vitamin tends to be low in individuals that suffer from insomnia and sleep disorders, so topping up folate levels by eating peanut butter at night could help sleep quality.
Eating peanut butter before bed could help sleep quality and onset due to the presence of tryptophan, magnesium and folate. All of which have been shown to have a positive effect on sleep.
Eating peanut butter at night: What are the HEALTH benefits?
Peanut butter is also an anti-inflammatory, and is loaded with antioxidants. Both are crucial to keeping your health in check, and can even reverse damage done to your body.
That’s partly because peanuts are loaded with biotin – Vitamin B7 – and thiamine – Vitamin B1. Both are important to your body’s health. In fact biotin is often taken in supplement form to stop and reverse hair loss, although studies have shown the efficacy of biotin is limited in regards to this.
More promising, however, is the fact peanuts contain oleic acid – an omega-9 fatty acid that has been shown to reduce inflammation. One study concluded that a ‘diet high in oleic acid, which can be easily achieved through consumption of peanuts’ could even have a beneficial effect on inflammation caused by Type 2 diabetes.
The anti-inflammatory nature of peanuts and peanut butter is important to note 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 peanut butter or walnuts – is a no-brainer.
Peanut butter is also a great source of antioxidants. That’s important as antioxidants appear to have a direct effect on sleep quality, as they support the immune system and help promote restfulness at night.
Antioxidant foods also 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 peanut butter or grapes – should be a priority.
The science has been backed up too. A study at Harvard University concluded that a diet including peanuts could help protect against cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline – and possibly even diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Peanuts have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Because of that, numerous studies have shown peanuts to have a positive effect on health and the potential ability to protect against several diseases.
Peanut butter for sleep: Incorporating it into your diet
Widely available around the world, peanut butter is easy to incorporate into your diet – and not just by spooning it directly out of the jar!
While there’s many unhealthy recipes involving peanut butter, healthier options include adding some to hummus for extra taste, creating a peanut butter-based dipping sauce, or adding a spoon to a salad or smoothie.
Peanut butter before bed: Any side effects?
If you don’t have a peanut allergy then moderate consumption of peanut butter shouldn’t cause any side effects. However, it is worth mentioning that peanuts are high in fat and calories, and so eating peanut butter in excess could lead to unwanted weight gain. If you eat too much peanut butter you could also end up bloated, gassy, and with some abdomen pain.
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.