Having trouble sleeping? Eating foods containing melatonin may be the answer to your problem. Produced by the brain, melatonin is a hormone that works with your body's sleep-wake cycle. Concentrations of this hormone increase in your body as night approaches because darkness stimulates the release of this chemical, causing you to become sleepy. Eating foods containing melatonin is a natural way to help increase the amount of the hormone in your body. Melatonin also is said to help with jet lag and slowing the aging process.
Oats, Sweet Corn & Rice
Oats, sweet corn and rice are the best foods to eat for melatonin. These foods contain between 1,000 and 1,800 picograms (1,000,000 picograms = 1 milligram) of melatonin per gram.
In the oats family, eat oatmeal, cereals containing oats, nature bars, oatmeal cookies and oat bread. Sweet corn is available in can or frozen form or fresh from your local grocery store or farmer's market. Rice, both white and brown, is available at local grocery store.
Ginger & Barley
Ginger and barley both have a small amount of the hormone present. Ginger has about 500 picograms per gram of melatonin, and barley has minute amounts.
Ginger root and ground ginger are found in most local grocery and health food stores. To find barley, visit your grocery store's soup aisle or a local health food store.
Tomatoes, Bananas & Radishes
Tomatoes, bananas and Japanese radishes (the stem and leaves combined) also contain small amounts of melatonin. All three foods have around 500 picograms per gram of melatonin in each one. These foods also can be found at your local farmer's market or grocery store. Try to buy fresh if you can.
Fruits & Vegetables
Several other fruits and vegetables also contain minute amounts melatonin, including pineapples, apples, oranges, strawberries, kiwifruits, peppers and spinach. Try to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, try to consume the them within one week of purchase.
You can prepare melatonin-rich meals using several foods containing a small amount of melatonin.
Almonds & Seeds
Other foods that contain melatonin include almonds, pimpinella peregrina (the dried root), sunflower seeds, fennel seeds, lemon verbena (the young plant), balm mint (the young plant) and green cardamom seeds. Most seeds can be found at your local health food store and some farmer's markets.