Experts have concocted a three-course dinner that is specifically designed for optimal sleep. Dr Rachel Edwards-Stuart and Lily Soutter identified foods that are known to improve sleep and used them to create the ultimate dinnertime meal. They incorporated complementary ingredients that would not counteract the sleep-enhancing properties of the food.
Dr. Edwards-Stuart researched the flavor and texture of foods for the menu at the University of Nottingham, while Soutter meticulously developed the menu in the lab of mattress company SIMBA Sleep.
The first ingredient selected for the menu was kiwi. Previous research from Taiwan’s Taipei Medical University established that the high antioxidant and serotonin levels found in kiwi help improve both quality and quantity of sleep. Chicken was chosen due to the fact that it is one of the best sources of tryptophan, an essential building block of the sleep hormone melatonin. The experts picked walnuts for the meal because research from the University of Texas established they are also a good source of melatonin.
The first course of the dinner paired kiwi with mackerel, which is rich in omega 3 and fatty acids. A study from Oxford University has shown that omega 3 fat stimulates the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. After considering shared aroma compounds, the team added spinach and olives to the dish. Spinach was also chosen because it is high in magnesium and levels of this mineral rise and fall with our sleep cycles.
The main course consisted of magnesium-rich pumpkin seeds with chicken. This course also featured a sweet potato – another excellent source of tryptophan.
The team wanted a dessert that did not have a lot of sugar, and chose honey to sweeten the dessert because it does not make blood sugar levels spike. Melon and apple juice were used as a source of fiber which can help stabilize blood sugar levels at night.
“Although many of us understand the importance of nutrition during the day, few of us are aware that certain foods could be sabotaging our sleep,” explained Soutter.
She added that “these recipes are simple enough to replicate or inspire your meal choices at home.”
Source: University of Nottingham