Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Best Food To Treat Insomnia

Have you been having trouble sleeping lately?  Try eating some tart cherries or drinking some tart cherry juice.

Tart Cherries are among the richest food sources of melatonin, which is a hormone that helps promote sleep.  The body's production of melatonin declines with age, which is part of the reason why older adults often have trouble sleeping.

A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that small doses of melatonin (0.3 mg) helped insomniacs sleep better.  One cup of tart-cherry juice of 1/8 cup dried tart cherries contains roughly 0.3 mg of melatonin.  

The recommendation is to eat tart cherries or drink one cup of juice about an hour before bedtime.  This is so that the melatonin from the tart cherries can be absorbed by the body.

Note: Sweet cherries also contain melatonin, but not as much as tart cherries.

Source: Bottom Line Magazine, Volume 34 Number 11

Monday, May 6, 2013

Which is Healthier, Fresh Salsa or Jarred Salsa? (Plus other comparisons!)

Cinco De Mayo may have just passed, but people eat things like salsa, tortillas, and tortilla chips every day.  Here is a quick crash course in some Cinco de Mayo nutrition and which is healthier for you.  Some of the answers may surprise you.

Fresh Salsa vs Jarred Salsa

Fresher isn't always better: Tomatoes are one of the best sources of the antioxidant lycopene, but your body absorbs more of it when the tomatoes have been heated.  Jarred salsa is typically cooked before it's packaged, so it offers more of the nutrient than the fresh version.

Winner: Jarred Salsa

Corn Tortillas vs Flour Tortillas

Flour tortillas have 3X the calories and 5X the fat of corn tortillas.  Switching to whole-wheat flour tortillas boosts your fiber intake, but the calories and fat are still there.

Winner: Corn Tortillas

Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips vs Blue Corn Tortilla Chips

Blue corn chips are often labeled as all natural, so people assume they're the better choice.  But the FDA doesn't regulate the use of that term.  In fact, the two varieties have the same number of calories and grams of fat.  And because most of the sodium is added, the health factor depends more on the brand than on the color.

Winner: It's a Draw

Red Sangria vs White Sangria

Red wine is loaded with resveratrol, a compound in the skin of grapes that is thought to be good for t heart.  White wine has none of this, plus many white sangria recipes call for fruit juice and sweet liquors, so they typically end up with higher sugar counts.

Winner: Red sangria

Source: Food Network Magazine May 2013