The Sex Drive Diet—15 Foods to Boost Your Libido

Let’s face it: who doesn’t want a healthy sex drive? After all, an active sex drive is linked to pleasure (duh!), pain relief, bladder control, better sleep, and more. Of course, a robust sex life also increases intimacy with your partner. Win, win, win. That said, it’s totally normal to feel fluctuations in your libido. In fact, you may be in the thick of a dry spell. Don’t fret—there are many ways to spice up your sex life! Including, meditation. But when it comes to improving your sex drive, you also want to consider your diet.

After all, passion requires sustained energy. Plus, no one wants digestive woes in the bedroom. Are you limiting foods like sugar and inflammatory oils? Are you minimizing your alcohol intake? All of these things impact your sexual desire. Without further ado, let’s dig into foods that increase libido.

Featured image from our interview with Sanetra Nere Longno by Michelle Nash.

Edie Horstman

Edie is the founder of nutrition coaching business, Wellness with Edie. With her background and expertise, she specializes in women’s health, including fertility, hormone balance, and postpartum wellness.

Benefits of a Healthy Sex Life

Studies show that sex is extremely beneficial to our health. Sex activates a variety of neurotransmitters that impact not only our brains, but several other organs in our bodies. In other words, the perks of sex expand well beyond the bedroom. For women, the benefits of a healthy sex life can include: 

  • Healthier immune system
  • Strong pelvic floor (helpful for avoiding incontinence)
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better heart health, including a lower risk for heart attack
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Decreased depression and anxiety
  • Increased libido
  • Better sleep
  • Overall stress reduction

What contributes to a strong sexual desire?

What controls our libido (also called our sex drive) is actually a very complex web of biological, psychological, and social-cultural influences. Our hormones play a major role, too. All of these things come together to create the sex drive. A strong sexual desire can be correlated to routine exercise, high dopamine levels, reasonable self-esteem, normal testosterone, and eating foods that increase libido.

On the flip side, libido levels can be negatively affected by alcohol, drugs, anxiety, disease, fatigue, menopause, life circumstances, history of sexual abuse, religious traditions, and more.

Woman drinking water in bed.

Yes, It’s Normal For Your Libido to Fluctuate

Just as every person’s taste buds, cravings, and appetites differ, so does sex drive. We are all unique in this world—our sex drives are a reflection of our bio-individuality. Unsurprisingly, it’s well understood that libido varies between men and women. But it also fluctuates across seasons of our lives. Ultimately, your libido depends on a multitude of factors. Think: age, hormone levels, quality of life, and attraction to your partner (physical and emotional).

We can’t put a number—or name—to what a “normal” libido is. And having a low libido doesn’t necessarily qualify as a chronic illness. However, chat with your healthcare provider if you think you have a low libido. Ultimately, you have the power to decide how you feel about your own sex drive—as well as how it’s affecting your relationship. This goes without saying, but comparison is the thief of joy. What you see on HBO isn’t reality. Your sex life, your standards.

woman sitting on white couch
Image by Belathée Photography

A Nutritious Diet Can Increase Your Libido

Having a healthy sex drive is linked to feeling physically and emotionally healthy, so it’s no surprise that the foods you eat play a role in boosting your sex life. While foods can play a role in a robust sexual desire, most of the research has less to do with libido and more to do with sexual performance.

At any rate, a nutritious diet can benefit your sex life in many ways, including improving your stamina in the bedroom. Furthermore, eating a diet rich in vegetables and lean proteins—and low in foods that contain sugar and saturated fat—can also help prevent disorders that affect your libido, like hormonal conditions.

15 Foods That Increase Libido

Without sounding like a broken record, what you put into your body determines how well it functions. By filling your body with unhealthy foods, inflammatory oils, and blood sugar-wrecking ingredients, sexual health takes a nosedive. Instead, focus on foods that increase libido. These are foods rich in zinc, antioxidants, B vitamins, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

CRU's Classic Cocktail Sauce & Horseradish Créme Fraîche

1. Oysters

While no scientific studies prove that oysters stimulate desire, they have been considered a natural aphrodisiac for hundreds of years. They’re widely known to increase sex drive and desire! Reason being, oysters are high in zinc. This compound increases blood flow, which may aid in blood flow to sex organs. Zinc—which is found in an array of animal and plant-based foods—may be especially important in male fertility, as it helps regulate testosterone levels. Can’t stand oysters? Clams will do!

Recipe: CRU’s Classic Cocktail Sauce & Horseradish Créme Fraîche

Grilled Yogurt-Marinated Chicken with All the Herbs

2. Chicken

Eating high-quality animal protein, such as beef, chicken, and pork, can help improve your sex drive (thanks to their compounds of specific amino acids). Foods high in protein can improve blood flow, such as L-arginine and zinc. Of course, smooth blood flow is crucial for a strong sexual response as well as getting the blood flowing to the right ­places.

Recipe: Grilled Yogurt-Marinated Chicken with All the Herbs

Grilled Salmon with Stone Fruit Salsa

3. Salmon

Best known for its essential fatty acids and omega-3s, salmon’s nutritious fats help maintain a healthy heart and prevent plaque build-up in our arteries. As a result, blood can flow smoothly, which in turn keeps your sex drive thriving. Omega-3s can also raise dopamine levels in the brain, triggering arousal. When possible, choose wild-caught salmon.

Recipe: Grilled Salmon with Stone Fruit Salsa

Grain-Free Granola

4. Nuts

Cashews, almonds, and walnuts are chock-full of zinc—along with L-arginine—to get your blood flowing. Walnuts are doubly helpful, as they are also rich in omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are linked to dopamine production, which helps improve libido.

Recipe: Camille’s Grain-Free Granola

Fig smoothie

5. Seeds

Here at Camille Styles, we love our seeds. Along with helping balance hormones, seeds contain vitamins and minerals that can help increase your sexual function. For example: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, and chia seeds. In fact, chia seeds are known to increase male libido. These have been shown to naturally boost testosterone thanks to the essential fatty acids that serve as building blocks for hormones.

Flax, on the other hand, is known to increase libido in women. Flaxseeds contain phytoestrogens that act very similarly to female hormones that are linked to a healthy sex life. Flax can be beneficial for women who have low estrogen levels, such as those experiencing menopause.

Recipe: Get Figgy With It Smoothie

Apple Walnut Salad

6. Apples

Apples are rich in a compound called quercetin, an antioxidant known to promote blood circulation, treat erectile dysfunction, and manage low libido. In fact, this study reported a 14% reduction in erectile dysfunction in males who had a higher fruit intake. This may be due to their flavonoid content. In females, high blood pressure can lead to a lower libido and less interest in sex, particularly if it causes fatigue. Furthermore, low blood flow to the vagina can affect how the body responds to sexual activity. Overall, a diet rich in flavonoids can boost your overall health and keep your sex life healthy.

Recipe: Apple Walnut Salad

Grapefruit, Avocado, and Golden Beet Salad with Crunchy Chickpeas and Feta

7. Beets

Next on the list of foods that increase libido—beets. Beetroot is rich in antioxidants and vitamins—a healthful addition to any diet. They’re also high in dietary nitrates, which means they could help boost your sex life. In essence, dietary nitrates expand the blood vessels, a process known as vasodilation, which improves blood flow. This has beneficial effects on muscle contraction. Because of this, some athletes use nitrates to boost performance (in and out of the bedroom).

Recipe: Grapefruit, Avocado, and Golden Beet Salad with Crunchy Chickpeas and Feta

Raspberry Cocoa Energy Balls

8. Raspberries

Like apples, raspberries are rich in flavonoids. This phytochemical-rich (and blood sugar-friendly!) food may enhance both libido and sexual endurance. Raspberries are loaded with zinc, which is essential for sex. Women with appropriate levels of zinc have a high desire for sex. In males, zinc controls testosterone levels and also helps in sperm production.

Recipe: Raspberry Cocoa Energy Balls

Avocado Toast with Kale Pesto and Crunchy Veggies

9. Avocado

Avocados provide numerous benefits, including vitamin E and healthy fats—important for hormonal health. Plus, avocados contain magnesium and a mineral called boron, which studies indicate may benefit testosterone levels. Boron is a trace mineral that seems to influence testosterone metabolism in the body and may protect against testosterone degradation. Furthermore, vitamin E is associated with increased fertility.

Recipe: Avocado Toast with Kale Pesto and Crunchy Veggies

Mushroom, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Frittata

10. Eggs

Egg yolks are rich in healthy fats, protein, and selenium. Selenium, specifically, may help enhance the production of testosterone by activating certain pathways and the expression of certain genes. Eggs are also rich in vitamins B6 and B5. These help balance hormone levels and fight stress—two components that are crucial to a healthy libido.

Eggs are also a symbol of fertility and rebirth. Eating raw chicken eggs before sex is said to heighten libido and maximize energy levels. At any rate, eggs are highly nutritious. When possible, choose organic (or, ideally, pasture-raised) eggs.

Recipe: Mushroom, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Frittata

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

11. Chocolate

Chocolate is packed with romance-boosting compounds. These compounds include anandamide (the feel good chemical), phenylethylamine (the love chemical that triggers endorphin release), and theobromine (a central nervous system stimulant). Said differently: eating chocolate can increase libido by promoting the release of certain chemicals. Even if its effects are more psychological than biological, we’ll take any excuse to break off a few more squares.

Recipe: Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

Adaptogenic Hot Chocolate

12. Maca

Have you heard of maca? Known as a superfood, maca is a Peruvian root that has long been used to increase strength, stamina, energy, fertility, and libido (for men and women). While research is still needed, maca root may alleviate SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction, including having beneficial effects on libido. Add a dash to your smoothie or coffee and see how you feel.

Recipe: Adaptogenic Hot Chocolate

Creamy Vegan Pasta with Tomatoes and Basil

13. Basil

This Italian herb is known to improve blood circulation, keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check, and it’s an excellent source of brain-boosting nutrients—magnesium and flavonoids. As mentioned, ingredients that are good for your heart (and blood flow!) improve libido as well. Basil also has a warming effect on the body, possibly enhancing arousal.

Recipe: Creamy Vegan Pasta with Tomatoes and Basil

Spinach and Ricotta Pizza with Garlicky Olive Oil

Olive oil isn’t just famed as a heart-healthy food: it’s also an aphrodisiac. Yes, olive oil can help enhance the female orgasm! It works its magic by triggering the testosterone hormone, which induces sexual desires, thus enhancing orgasms. Research proves it. At any rate, adopting a Mediterranean-style diet can vastly improve your sexual prowess.

Recipe: Spinach and Ricotta Pizza with Garlicky Olive Oil

Honey Roasted Carrots with Spicy Citrus, Sage & Pepitas

15. Carrots

Last but not least on the list of foods to increase libido? Carrots. This vegetable is known to help with balancing libido, thanks to its high amounts of beta-carotene. This compound supports the entire endocrine system, thereby supporting libido, boosting metabolism, and strengthening the kidneys. Furthermore, carrots help balance hormones—specifically, estrogen. Carrots contain unique undigestible fibers to help detox excess estrogen from the body.

Recipe: Honey Roasted Carrots with Spicy Citrus, Sage & Pepitas

A Nutritionist Wants You to Eat These Plant-Based Foods in 2024

What’s on this year’s menu? Plenty of plants. Eco-conscious eating is in. And to no surprise, this wellness habit is having more than a moment. It’s a movement—weathering the test of time. For all the best reasons, plant-based eating continues to command center stage. And 2024 is no exception. With that in mind, it’s time to discover (and savor!) a variety of delicious plant-based foods. From nutrient-dense powerhouses to culinary innovations, consider this your one-and-only veggie guide. Meatless dining never tasted so good.

Featured image by Suruchi Avasthi.

Edie Horstman

Edie is the founder of nutrition coaching business, Wellness with Edie. With her background and expertise, she specializes in women’s health, including fertility, hormone balance, and postpartum wellness.

A Plant-Forward Future

At the end of December, we shared our 2024 wellness forecast. And if one thing’s for certain, it’s this: trending food predictions are plant-forward. In fact, the Mediterranean diet holds the No. 1 Best Diet Overall—a lifestyle that champions fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, herbs, and spices. (Ahem, plants!) Sustainable, plant-based cooking is the future. Speaking of, as longevity goals increase, produce-forward diets will follow suit. This shift is twofold. It recognizes the importance of ethical food choices and the nutritional density of plants. A compassionate approach to nourishment is here to stay.

Mushroom tacos.

Is veganism worth the hype?

IYKYK—the landscape of nutrition is vast. Unfortunately, it’s filled with misinformation and inaccurate health claims. So if you’re confused about what to put on your plate, you’re not alone. Ultimately, the goal is to take the stress out of eating. Food is joy, after all!

The aim is to cultivate a feel-good, gut-friendly, and balanced approach to food. For some, that means prioritizing a vegan diet. With its health benefits and positive impact on the environment, veganism is soaring. And while this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, there’s no doubt that plants are paramount.

Vegetarian chickpea curry.

Can you get all the nutrients you need on a plant-based diet?

Yes! Adopting a plant-based or vegan diet can provide all the essential nutrients required for optimal health. That said, it often necessitates careful planning and a mindful approach. Plant-based diets— rich in colorful produce, nuts, legumes, etc.—provide everything from ample protein to energizing carbs and immune-supporting antioxidants. However, certain nutrients (those abundantly found in animal products), may require special attention. Think: vitamin B12. Fortunately, that’s where fortified foods and supplements shine. With intentionality in mind, a diverse, plant-based diet can easily provide all necessary nutrients.

Consider consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to design a balanced, plant-based diet to meet your nutritional requirements.

Fig smoothie.

More Protein, Less Meat

Across the board, we’re becoming savvier grocery shoppers—particularly when it comes to protein. Hooray! We’re inching further away from the disguises of a faux burger (with a laundry list of ingredients) and moving toward simple, non-meat protein sources. And this Whole Food Markets’ 2024 Trend Report proves it. As the year unfolds, we’ll be stocking up on protein sources made from whole foods (edamame, beans, walnuts, mushrooms, seeds, buckwheat, sprouted grains, etc.) to meet our muscle-building goals. Sayonara, complex meat alternatives.

Sweet potato falafel burgers.

Vegan Seafood is Making Waves

Carrots as lox? Trumpet mushrooms as scallops? Root veggies (konjac) in sushi rolls and poke bowls? You betcha. What started as a subtle dip in the plant-based seafood pond is becoming a head-first submergence. In response to the tinned fish trend, vegan food brands are making their own versions of salty, seafood-esque snacks. We’re jazzed about Mind Blown’s new sea scallops, Seed to Surf’s tinned snow crab, and Konscious sushi rolls. And if you’re ready for watermelon nigiri, book a table at everyone’s favorite plant-based restaurant, Planta.

Tempeh spring rolls.

Fuel Your Gut with Plants

We’ve only explored the tip of the gut health iceberg, but there’s no denying its influence. It’s no secret that a diverse gut microbiome has benefits beyond digestive health. Think: cognitive function, hormones, mood, sleep quality, and more. With digestion a priority, pre- and probiotics will be rising stars in 2024. And where can you get them? Plants. From kimchi and sauerkraut to tempeh, miso, and pickled veggies, probiotics are a dime a dozen. Fiber-rich prebiotics (food for probiotics) are even more accessible—bananas, blueberries, spinach, onions, artichokes, and oatmeal. Plant-based eating does the gut good.

Squash, grain, goat cheese salad.

Quiet Luxury: Food Edition

The “quiet luxury” trend has its hands in the fashion industry, but it’s only a matter of time before the food world gets a bite. What will this look like? Consumers will splurge on the little things: high-quality olives, locally made vegan cheeses, and unique items to help elevate the everyday—like chili-forward spices. Below are elevated plant-based foods you don’t want to miss in 2024.

Climax Foods Cheese

Vegan brie, feta, chèvre, and blue cheeses, anyone? If you’re new to Climax Foods, thank us later. This brand is using science to mimic animal-based ingredients like casein (which gives cheese its stretchiness). You can already find these cheeses at several restaurants—including three Michelin–star Atelier Crenn—but you’ll soon be able to shop them at specialty retailers.

Seeductive Foods Cheese

More plant-based cheese, please. Seeductive Foods’ hemp- and pumpkin seed–based cheeses are packed with heart-healthy omega-3s and vegan protein. Plus, they’re fermented to give them a gut-healthy tang. Uplevel your charcuterie board with a bundle of non-dairy cheese.

Mellody Vegan Honey

As sweet and thick as the real stuff, Mellody’s vegan honey is the world’s first plant-based honey. And trust us, it doesn’t disappoint. From cooking to baking to mocktail-ing, this sweetener is worth the hype.

Outstanding Stuffins

Crunchy snacks are pantry staples. The newest to our shelves? Outstanding Stuffins. Available in three flavors—Chedda, Nacho Cheese, and Pizza Partay—all of them are deliciously dairy-free. Kiss the munchies goodbye with these crowd-pleasing bites.

S’NOODS Spicy Miso Ramen

Another snack we can’t stop raving about? S’NOODS spicy miso ramen. This vegan, gluten-free, and flavor-packed snack is great for grabbing on the go. If you’re craving instant ramen, this will (totally) satisfy.


Move over, faux meat patties. Shroomeats mushroom-based meats are packed with flavor and texture and have only six simple ingredients. Serve ’em up with your favorite burger buns and condiments.

Zeroe Vegan Caviar

The pièce de résistance of silent luxury? Caviar. If you didn’t think plant-based caviar existed, think again. Zeroe makes a vegan version from responsibly sourced seaweed—and it’s pure culinary bliss.

Plant-based foods arranged on crudité platter.

Welcoming a New Kind of Plant-Based Lifestyle

As we step into 2024, the era of plant-based foods is looking more promising than ever. Sustainable (and delicious!) meat alternatives are at our fingertips. Best of all, they’re appealing to a broader audience of eaters: those seeking healthier, environmentally conscious choices. From simple dairy substitutes to flavorful plant-based snacks, the year ahead promises a culinary adventure. Together, let’s make plants a priority.

Immune System Need a Boost? 15 Foods a Dietitian Wants You to Prioritize

Supplements are a hot topic in the health world, and experts still disagree about their efficacy. Despite the unknowns, one vitamin in particular tends to make it on every list of sought-after supplements due to its scientifically proven effects on the body. Whether it’s used to fight a stubborn cold or brighten your complexion, vitamin C is loved by many for its numerous health benefits. Since our bodies can’t produce this vitamin, meeting the recommended daily dosage can be tricky. Fortunately, vitamin C can be found in many of our everyday foods, making upping your intake a bit easier.

We called in registered dietician May Zhu to break down everything you need to know about this powerful vitamin. And while she says it’s easiest to meet the RDA of vitamin C through food, supplementation is available. Ahead, discover everything to know about vitamin C foods and the best options to get your daily dose.

Benefits of Vitamin C

Vitamin C doesn’t just cover one area of health. Zhu says this vitamin can strengthen immunity, which can be particularly beneficial during cold and flu season. Vitamin C can also improve iron absorption, as this process determines how efficiently our body uses energy. Stimulation of collagen production is another benefit that vitamin C reaps, which can enhance overall skin health.

Supplements vs. Vitamin C Foods

Zhu says, “When it comes to vitamin intake, we always recommend a food-first approach before supplementation. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin which means our bodies do not store it in large amounts, so after the body absorbs what it needs, anything in excess gets flushed out.” Therefore it isn’t a good idea to over-supplement this vitamin. Zhu also shared that the current Tolerable Upper Intake Level (aka the max daily intake unlikely to cause harmful effects on health) for vitamin C is 2000 mg a day. She notes that the RDA for adults 19 years old is 90 mg (men) / 75 mg (women). For pregnancy, the amount increase from 85mg to 120 mg daily. 

However, Zhu says that an easier way to make sure vitamin C requirements are met and not exceeded is to regularly consume it through food, ideally through fruits and vegetables. She says that consuming 1-2 fruit and vegetables in every meal can help maintain vitamin C levels in the body. However, supplements can always be considered if you have a diet insufficient in vitamin C or find it harder to consume fruits and vegetables regularly.

Signs of Vitamin C Deficiency

Although rare, vitamin C deficiencies can occur, typically in less developed countries. However, there are warning signs of a deficiency. These may include:

  • Slow healing wounds
  • Bruising on skin 
  • Bleeding (red) gums/tooth loss
  • Weak immunity 
  • Scurvy 
  • Iron-deficiency anemia

15 Vitamin C Foods to Give Your Immune System a Boost

As Zhu mentioned, the best way to meet the ideal RDA of vitamin C without going overboard is through food. This list consists of a variety of healthy and tasty options that are high in vitamin C and easy to incorporate into your weekly menu.


1 medium orange contains 83 mg of vitamin C, meaning you can easily meet your daily amount with a quick snack. Oranges can also be added as a garnish or pressed into juice if eating them raw isn’t quite your style.

Adrenal Cocktail

If you’re well-acquainted with the afternoon slump, it’s time to get familiar with the adrenal cocktail. Fresh orange juice, coconut water, and sea salt all help replenish electrolytes and keep you hydrated.

Bell Peppers

One red bell pepper or 1/2 cup of slices contains 95 mg of vitamin C, making it a great ingredient to include in your weeknight dinners or to snack on with hummus in the afternoon.

Vegan Red Pepper Pasta

Red bell peppers are a versatile way to incorporate a healthy ingredient that pairs well with flavors from virtually any cuisine. This pasta is creamy, nutritious, and delicious. Score!


You can get up to 30 mg of vitamin C from 1/2 cup of lemon juice. While that may seem like a whole lot of lemon, this fruit is used more often than you may realize in baking and cooking.

Feta Salad with White Beans and Lemon Relish

This recipe appreciates all of the lemon, including its juice, to create a tangy relish.


One medium papaya contains 95 mg of vitamin C. Slice it up or add it as a garnish, but papaya never disappoints with its buttery and sweet flavor.

Millet and Amaranth Porridge with Figs and Papaya

We’ve never seen a more stunning take on porridge than the one Sarah Copeland shared with us. While this recipe calls for 1/2 papaya, more could be added to increase your vitamin C intake.


Did you know kale is a type of cabbage? Even if you did, I doubt you knew that 1/2 cup of this gorgeous green contains 53 mg of vitamin C.

Holiday Jewels Chopped Kale Salad with Mustard-Shallot Vinaigrette

Kale offers countless health benefits. This salad will help you on your way to meeting your RDA through whole foods. With a salad this delicious, it isn’t a challenge to incorporate plenty of vitamins into your weekly menu.


It only takes one small grapefruit to deliver up to 69 mg of vitamin C, just about reaching that RDA.

Radish & Fennel Citrus Salad

This stunning salad is the perfect bowl of healthy ingredients that we’re always happy to bring to the table. With sprigs of dill, slices of avocado, and a bright Yuzu-spiked vinaigrette, it’s the perfect palate refresher between heavier courses.


To preserve its nutrients, including vitamin C, we recommend steaming, sauteeing, or baking broccoli, as boiling can affect the nutrients preserved after cooking. 1/2 cup of this ingredient contains 50 mg of vitamin C. That’s a perfect amount for a delicious side or snack.

Spicy Chili Lime Miso Broccoli

You might find yourself eating this broccoli straight off the pan after tasting these delicious flavors. Spicy flavors are tamed by the lime’s acidity and complemented by the homemade miso dressing.

Brussel Sprouts

I’m a firm believer that if you still have a vendetta against Brussels sprouts as an adult, you haven’t cooked them properly. A 1/2 cup of cooked Brussels sprouts has 48 mg of vitamin C (but we think you’ll eat more).

Cacio E Pepe Brussels Sprouts

This recipe avoids those soggy steamed Brussels sprouts of your nightmares by shredding and cooking them instead. The core ingredients of cacio e pepe—butter, parmesan, and lemon—bring a bit of brightness to this underrated veggie.


While one cup of raw cabbage is only 33 mg of vitamin C, we’re confident you’ll find yourself eating more of this veggie when it’s paired with bold flavors and hearty protein.

Hoisin Chicken Cabbage Tacos

I’m always looking for ways to incorporate fruits and veggies to replace unnecessary carbs in my meals (but by no means am I a carb-hater). If you’re skeptical about cabbage leaves replacing a traditional tortilla in this recipe, the filling will win you over, consisting of hoisin sauce, shredded chicken, and a variety of delicious toppings.


One cup of raw cauliflower is 52 mg of vitamin C. But let’s be honest, who can only eat one cup of this veggie?

Cauliflower Tikka Masala

In this recipe, the cauliflower soaks up all the delicious flavors and spices. And because it comes together in a flash, it’s a perfect option to boost your vitamin C intake.


Strawberries are surprisingly high in vitamin C, containing 98 mg in only 1 cup. This fruit makes it easy to meet your RDA, as it can be incorporated into every meal of the day.

Strawberry & Arugula Salad with Spring Herbs & Goat Cheese

This strawberry and arugula salad couldn’t be more picture-perfect. If you’re looking for a simple way to meet that RDA of vitamin C, make sure that you slice up one cup of this fresh fruit for your salad.


Two kiwis contain 137 mg of vitamin C, making for an easy snack that meets your RDA.

Breakfast Grazing Board

I want to wake up to this fruit-filled breakfast board every morning—and it’s so easy to put together that I could. It’s perfect for a casual breakfast or brunch gathering served alongside plenty of coffee. (And OJ for an added vitamin C boost!)


Guava is another vitamin C superfood. 1 medium Guava contains 165 mg of vitamin C, making it a great ingredient to help balance blood sugar levels and boost heart health.

Baby Greens with Beet Leaves, Soft Boiled Egg, and Hot Guava Dressing

This fresh salad doesn’t skimp on bold flavors—a perfect complement to crisp greens. The hot guava dressing can be used on everything from proteins to sandwiches, too. We make extra just in case.


While 1 cup of cantaloupe is only 17 mg of vitamin C, if you’re like me, you’ll eat far more of this fruit in one sitting. It’s the perfect snack I crave on hot summer days or in a Greek yogurt bowl for breakfast.

Spicy Melon Ricotta Toast

For a sweet-and-savory appetizer or snack, this spicy melon ricotta toast satisfies. I love the variety of flavor at play and the aesthetic is beyond gorgeous.


One cup of parsley is a fool-proof way to incorporate foods high in vitamin C into your meal. With 133 mg per cup, your dishes won’t be lacking in flavor or nutrition.

Grilled Yogurt-Marinated Chicken with All the Herbs

Truly—all the herbs. This beyond-flavorful chicken features a zesty marinated that packs in a whole half-bunch of parsley. Consider your vitamin C needs satisfied.

This post was originally published on March 26, 2023, and has since been updated.

Healthy or Harmful? A Nutritionist Weighs In On the Most-Debated Foods

This goes without saying, but the landscape of nutrition is vast. And thanks to the wild west of influencers, it’s a minefield of confusion. Is gluten the devil? Is soy a hard no? What about animal protein? Everyone has an opinion. Plus, nutrition science is a revolving door. Ultimately, the goal isn’t to live by a rigid set of food rules. Flexibility is best. The point is to nourish your cells and soul because quite frankly, both are important. With that in mind, today we’re sharing a story of culinary redemption: once-vilified foods making a comeback.

Thanks to ongoing research—and shifting perspectives—ingredients like eggs, raw milk, and tallow are taking back their spotlight. In many ways, they’re a testament to nutrition’s expansive scope. Time to get empowered.

What is the best diet?

Depends on who you ask, of course! “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”—that’s Michael Pollan’s popular conviction. But to be more specific, the healthiest diet is a way of eating that makes you feel your best, respects your individuality, and aligns with your values. You, as a bio-individual, are at the epicenter.

If your grocery basket is filled with mostly whole foods, encourages longevity, and fits within your budget and lifestyle, you’re on the right track. Mediterranean eats aside, the best diet is one that’s balanced and enjoyable. It’s an adaptable approach that enhances the quality of your life. And don’t forget: a healthy diet also creates space for community, connection, and culture.

When It Comes to Healthy Foods, Context Matters

As someone who battled orthorexia in my early 20s, I’m acutely aware that—above all—a healthy relationship with food far outweighs nitpicking every ingredient on my plate. Nowadays, my eating habits are intention-driven: to set a positive example for my children and to live a vibrant life. Sometimes, that means a croissant is actually the healthiest option! Context matters. Therefore, determining the “healthiest foods” is entirely subjective.

What are the most nutritious ingredients?

All of that said, many foods are recognized for their nutritional value. What are our top picks? See below.

Leafy greens

Produce like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They’re excellent sources of antioxidants and can support overall health, including detox pathways.

Cruciferous veggies

Think: broccoli, kale, cabbage, and cauliflower. These contain compounds called glucosinolates, which can break down into substances with potent cancer-fighting properties. As a whole, these help reduce the risk of chronic diseases.


Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc. are packed with antioxidants, fiber, and essential vitamins.

Fatty fish

Salmon, mackerel, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for hormone balance, heart health, brain function, and reducing inflammation.

Nuts and seeds

Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds provide healthy fats, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. They support heart and hormonal health.

Whole grains

Foods like quinoa, brown rice, and oats are rich in fiber and provide sustained energy. They can help regulate blood sugar and promote digestive health. To minimize pesticide consumption, aim for organic grains!


Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are excellent sources of plant-based protein, fiber, and a range of vitamins and minerals. They can help manage weight and improve heart health.

Greek yogurt

This dairy product is high in vegetarian protein, probiotics, and essential nutrients. It’s great for gut health and satiation. When possible, choose organic dairy.


A spice with potent anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is linked to numerous health benefits, including joint health and improved digestion.


Avocados are a source of healthy monounsaturated fats and a variety of vitamins and minerals. They support hormone health and weight management.

Sweet potatoes

Rich in beta-carotene, fiber, and various vitamins, sweet potatoes promote healthy skin, digestion, and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases.


Pasture-raised eggs are a convenient source of protein, essential nutrients, and healthy fats. They can help with muscle growth and satiety. Like leafy greens, they’re also beneficial during pregnancy!


Tomatoes are high in antioxidants—particularly lycopene—which is associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases (like cancer and heart disease). A highly-sprayed crop, prioritize organic when feasible.

The Low-Fat Craze

Let’s talk about the vilification of fat. After all, it’s deeply embedded in our culture. Circa the 1980s, the low-fat approach took off. And spoiler alert, it wasn’t just for patients with heart conditions. It was universally advised—an overarching ideology. Beyond shaping America’s farmland (hello, subsidized corn), it even changed the way we talk about fat. “Good” fat vs. “bad” fat ring a bell? But as time has gone on, this much is clear: a healthy, balanced diet includes fat.

Saturated vs. Unsaturated Fats

It’s not new news that unsaturated fats can actually protect against heart disease. I.e. nuts, produce (olives, avocado, etc.), and fatty fish. On the opposite end of the health spectrum? Saturated fat—found in a medium-rare steak or a slab of butter. This type of fat has always gotten a bad rap. But updated data indicates a new narrative: saturated fat isn’t as dire as we’ve been lead to believe. Take grass-fed beef, for example! Studies show that in moderation, it can supply the body with heart-healthy, omega-3 fatty acids. We need these for brain development, reducing inflammation, and more.

Image by Suruchi Avasthi

So, is dietary fat the villain?

No necessarily. New research suggests that dietary fat, itself, isn’t the culprit. Instead, our overconsumption of highly-processed carbs—and refined sweeteners—significantly contribute to America’s obesity epidemic. Our stressful and sedentary lifestyles contribute, too. To bring this full circle, maybe the argument against fat is more flawed than we realize.

Chat with your healthcare provider about the types (and amount) of fat that’s best for your genetics, wellness goals, health conditions, and lifestyle.

Controversial Foods Making a Comeback

From white potatoes to red meat, find out whether these polarizing eats deserve a spot in your grocery basket. Let the comeback era commence.

1. White Potatoes

If you always choose sweet potatoes or purple potatoes over white potatoes, you’re getting more bang for your nutrition buck. But that doesn’t mean white potatoes deserve the bad reputation they’ve garnered. Yes, white potatoes have a high glycemic index, which can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar (when consumed in large quantities). However, when prepared in a healthier manner, like boiling or baking, and paired with fiber-rich produce like broccoli and protein, and protein like chicken or Greek yogurt, they’re a great source of potassium and energy.

Recipe: Salt & Vinegar Pan Roasted Potatoes

2. Eggs

Eggs—the poster child of dietary controversy—have risen from the ashes of cholesterol myths. They’ve made a comeback as a beloved source of convenient protein. Previously shunned for their cholesterol content, eggs have been exonerated by modern science. We now know that they are packed with essential nutrients like protein, choline, and lutein. They can boost brain health, promote muscle growth, and keep you feeling full longer. When possible, choose pasture-raised eggs.

Recipe: Spring Rice Salad

3. Grass-Fed Beef: A Nutrient-Rich Redemptive Tale

For years, red meat, especially beef, was painted as a villain contributing to heart disease and cancer. However, grass-fed beef has emerged as a nutritional powerhouse. It’s leaner, packed with omega-3 fatty acids, and contains more antioxidants and vitamins than its grain-fed counterpart. Plus, it’s a more humane and sustainable choice, which resonates with the ethical and eco-conscious consumers of the wellness world.

Recipe: NY Strip With Chimichurri

4. Raw Milk: A Creamy Comeback

Raw milk, once banished due to concerns about bacterial contamination, is making a surprising comeback. Proponents argue that it contains beneficial enzymes and probiotics that are destroyed during pasteurization. While debates continue about its safety, the wellness community values raw milk for its potential to boost gut health, improve digestion, and enhance the immune system.

Recipe: Golden Milk

5. Tallow: The Hidden Gem of Healthy Fats

Tallow, the fat rendered from beef or lamb, has shed its unhealthy image. In the past, it was deemed as artery-clogging, but now, it’s recognized as a source of essential fatty acids and vitamins like A, D, and K2. Tallow has become a popular ingredient in skincare and a favorite cooking fat among those embracing the benefits of the ancestral diet movement.

Recipe: Bacon, Apple, And Sweet Potato Pizza

6. Bread

Bread—often portrayed as a nutritional villain—is not inherently unhealthy. In part, the reputation stems from the fact that many commercial bread products are highly processed and loaded with additives. However, when we shift our focus to whole-grain bread, we discover that bread can be a valuable part of a balanced diet. It provides essential nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It also gives us sustained energy! The key is to choose bread with minimal additives, fewer refined ingredients, and a high whole-grain content.

Recipe: No-Knead Focaccia

Everything in Moderation

Remember, how we eat—whether we cook it ourselves or grab fast-food takeout—matters as much as what we eat. Raw milk in your coffee, yolks in your eggs, and the occasional steak with béarnaise all have a place on your table (if they align with your health goals and values). Hopefully, these foods making a comeback never left your fridge in the first place. Bon appétit!

Not Sleeping Well? A Nutritionist Says These 10 Foods High in Tryptophan Could Be Sleep’s Secret Weapon

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: We love our beauty rest. We take our sleep very seriously over here. After all, a happier, healthier you happens when your body gets proper rest. Although most people know sleep is essential, few prioritize it. In fact, it’s estimated that 70% of adults get insufficient sleep (at least one night per month). Roughly 11% of adults report sleep woes every night. Regardless of age and socioeconomic class, sleep disorders are common. Thankfully, we have tips for getting a better night’s sleep. Even better news: we’re adding to that list with foods that promote a restful, restorative snooze. If you haven’t heard of tryptophan, it’s sleep’s secret weapon. Foods high in tryptophan might just be what the doctor ordered.

Featured image from our interview with Inge Theron by Teal Thomsen.

What is tryptophan?

Tryptophan—or L-tryptophan (its full name)—is an essential amino acid. It’s found in foods like animal protein, cheese, yogurt, eggs, nuts, and seeds. It serves several important purposes, like nitrogen balance in adults and growth in infants. Basically, it helps the body create proteins and certain brain-signaling chemicals. Unlike vitamin K, which your body can make on its own, tryptophan is different. The human body gets all the tryptophan it needs via diet or supplements. 

It’s the precursor. Once consumed, your body turns tryptophan into a B vitamin called niacin. Niacin plays a key role in creating serotonin. As you probably know, serotonin is associated with sleep. Niacin is also correlated with melatonin levels. In essence, think of tryptophan as the precursor of melatonin and of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Tryptophan is known to increase serotonin and melatonin levels.

Does eating turkey make you sleepy?

Not exactly. Like melatonin, foods high in tryptophan can make you sleepy. However, that turkey coma has less to do with the turkey, specifically, and more to do with eating a variety of other foods that also contain tryptophan. Thanksgiving is a tryptophan gold mine. There is no more tryptophan in turkey than in other commonly served meats, like chicken and beef. Plus, tryptophan can really only make you tired, immediately, if it’s eaten or taken without any other amino acids. And the protein in turkey contains plenty of other amino acids.

In all reality, other foods—like dairy (a common ingredient in Thanksgiving dishes)—contain more tryptophan. Furthermore, foods containing carbs also help produce serotonin and tryptophan. Oftentimes, carb-rich Thanksgiving side dishes contribute to why you feel sleepy. Serotonin is responsible for drowsiness, so it’s no surprise that most of us crave a nap before pumpkin pie. The more you know.

How Tryptophan Works in the Body

As mentioned, the body uses tryptophan to help make melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin helps regulate our sleep-wake cycles, and serotonin is known to help regulate appetite, sleep, mood, and more. When you eat (or supplement) L-tryptophan, your body absorbs it and converts it into serotonin. Serotonin transmits signals between your nerve cells and also narrows (constricts) blood vessels. The amount of serotonin in the brain can affect mood. Beyond the brain, the liver can also use tryptophan. This is where it produces niacin (vitamin B3). We need niacin for energy metabolism and DNA production. 

Why We Need Tryptophan

Generally speaking, tryptophan is required to maintain adequate protein levels in the body. This is especially important for infants. In newborns, tryptophan is essential to brain maturation. It also aids in the development of regulating hunger cues, satiation, and sleep-wake-rhythm. Tryptophan is found in breast milk, which is why it’s important for a nursing mother to eat foods high in tryptophan.

Tryptophan Benefits

There is limited research and studies to show that tryptophan is directly correlated to treating things like mood swings and irritability. However, low levels of tryptophan have been seen in people with depression. Some claim up to 60 milligrams of L-tryptophan daily may help improve mood or ward off mental health disorders such as depression. More on tryptophan supplements, below.

Regardless, tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin, and serotonin affects mood and sleep quality. Tryptophan is necessary for making proteins and other important molecules in your body.

Are tryptophan supplements safe?

Although there are many foods high in tryptophan, it can be taken as a supplement. It is likely safe at moderate doses. However, always consult with your doctor by changing your supplement routine. Occasional side effects may occur (heartburn, stomach pain, and more). They could become more serious if you’re also taking medication that influences your serotonin levels, such as antidepressants.

10 Foods High in Tryptophan 

In addition to these tips for sleeping better, consuming foods high in tryptophan might be the ticket to the most restful night of your life.


One serving of walnuts—about a handful—contains 318 mg of tryptophan. Alongside the sleep-promoting amino acid, walnuts are also a strong source of healthy fats and protein. While they add a tasty crunch to this salad, walnuts make for a tasty pre-bedtime snack an hour or two before going to sleep.

Recipe: Apple Walnut Salad


Whole milk is one of the largest sources of tryptophan, including 732 milligrams per quart. However, 2% reduced fat milk is also a good source, coming in at 551 milligrams per quart.

Recipe: Golden Milk


Wild-caught salmon  is one of the healthiest foods, due to its high concentration of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains key vitamins. As a great source of protein, salmon also contains a lot of tryptophan. A 6-ounce fillet contains a whopping 570 mg (203% of the RDI).

Recipe: Hot Honey Glazed Salmon


About two servings of turkey contain about 410 milligrams of tryptophan—close to the daily requirement of this important nutrient.

Recipe: Gemelli with Turkey Sausage and Broccoli


Although turkey is a significant source of tryptophan, it isn’t the largest. Light meat contains 410 milligrams per pound (raw) and dark meat contains 303 milligrams per pound. Chicken also contains high amounts of tryptophan, with light meat containing 238 milligrams per pound, and dark meat containing 256 milligrams per pound.

Recipe: Lemony Sheet Pan Chicken With Artichokes and Spring Veggies


Eggs are rich in tryptophan. They also contain significant amounts of Vitamin A, B12, and selenium. One large hard-boiled egg provides 6.3 grams of protein and 27% of the RDI for tryptophan.

Recipe: Scrambled Egg and Mushroom Toast

Greek Yogurt

Given its high protein count, Greek yogurt is rich in tryptophan. Some personal trainers swear by Greek yogurt before bed.

Recipe: Yogurt Toast with Peanut Butter and Banana


Pineapple contains plenty of tryptophan to boost serotonin in the brain. Additionally, pineapple is full of bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory properties.

Recipe: Tropical Pineapple-Ginger Smoothie


As far as plant-based proteins are concerned, tofu is a wonderful source of tryptophan. Soy products contain plenty of this essential amino acid. For example, when you cook tofu, one cup of firm tofu packs an impressive 592 mg (212% RDI), and an 8-ounce glass of soy milk has 92 mg.

Recipe: Spicy Tofu Banh Mí Bowl


Prepared oatmeal can also be a good source of tryptophan, with 147 milligrams per cup.

Recipe: Pumpkin Overnight Oats


The nuts with the most tryptophan are cashews, pistachios, and almonds. Cashews are rich in tryptophan and magnesium, both essential for overall health and controlling mood swings.

Recipe: Big Green Immunity-Boosting Vegetable Soup

This post was originally published on November 4, 2021, and has since been updated.

10 Foods a Nutritionist Swears by for Longer, More Restful Sleep

Counting imaginary sheep and pleading with the sandman for a good night’s sleep? We empathize. In fact, the quest for restful zzz’s unites us a whopping 50-70 million of us. In a world filled with endless notifications, overflowing schedules, and highly-processed treats, it’s no surprise sleep is hard to come by. Fortunately, sweet dreams can be a nightly reality. Supportive daily habits and nourishing foods fit the bill. With that in mind, we’re diving into foods that help you sleep—powerhouse ingredients to put your mind at rest. Your bedtime snack just got an upgrade.

image above by Riley Reed

How does diet impact sleep?

The link between diet and sleep is profound. On one end of the spectrum, a diet rich in balanced nutrients, minimally-processed foods, and healthy fats provides the body with tools to regulate sleep patterns. In part, we have stable blood sugar to thank! Conversely, indulging in high-sugar and heavily processed foods can disrupt our sleep cycles, leading to difficulties falling asleep and maintaining deep rest. Plus, if you know, you know: large meals close to bedtime may result in indigestion. Of course, caffeine and alcohol are also known to wreak havoc on our sleep patterns too.

Melatonin-Rich Foods to Reach For

You’ve probably heard of melatonin (it helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle), but did you know that certain foods contain it? Ultimately, adequate melatonin enhances our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Although most people produce enough melatonin for their general needs, research shows that foods high in melatonin can improve sleep. Cherries, particularly tart cherries, are a top choice. These little red powerhouses are packed with melatonin. Try a glass of tart cherry juice in the evening. Other melatonin favorites: pistachios, milk, and oats.

Get our full list of foods with melatonin here.

Can a melatonin supplement improve your sleep?

Depends. Melatonin is generally safe for short-term use, but studies on its long-term impact are limited. Immediate side effects are typically mild, but it can cause dependency, headaches, short-term feelings of depression, daytime sleepiness, dizziness, stomach cramps, and irritability. Additionally, melatonin can have strong effects on our sex steroid hormones. All in all, there may be more downsides than upsides to taking melatonin. Instead, you may want to try magnesium, l-theanine, ashwagandha, or a cup of chamomile tea.

Chat with your healthcare provider before adding new supplements to your routine!

Eat Tryptophan-Packed Foods

Along with melatonin-rich foods, ingredients with tryptophan are also your bedtime bestie. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. It plays a key role in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of relaxation. In other words, tryptophan-rich foods can promote better sleep. Turkey is famously known for its tryptophan content, and a modest turkey sandwich on sourdough might be a soothing bedtime snack. Other options? Greek yogurt, chicken, and tofu.

Get our full list of foods high in tryptophan here.

Blood Sugar and Sleep: A Two-Way Street

Melatonin and tryptophan aside, maintaining stable blood sugar levels is crucial for a good night’s sleep. When blood sugar levels fluctuate, it can lead to nighttime awakenings and disrupted sleep patterns. To achieve this balance, pair complex carbohydrates (like whole grains or fruit) with a source of protein (string cheese, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu, etc.) or healthy fats (nuts, coconut butter, avocado, etc.) Combining carbs with protein and/or fat releases glucose slowly, preventing the sudden sugar spikes and crashes that can interrupt your sleep. Curious to know if your blood sugar levels are within normal range? Consider wearing a continuous glucose monitor.

Sneaky Culprits That Make Sleep More Difficult

Unfortunately, there are certain foods (and bevvies) that make sleep more difficult—either to fall asleep or stay asleep. These are a few to keep in mind:

Caffeine: Coffee, caffeinated tea, energy drinks, and sodas are potent stimulants that disrupt sleepiness. Limit your caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon and evening. Instead, opt for a calming, soothing tea. And if you need an afternoon pick-me-up, consider these alternatives.

Alcohol: While alcohol may initially make you feel drowsy, it can disrupt your sleep cycle, leading to more fragmented and less restorative sleep. It’s best to enjoy alcohol in moderation and avoid it too close to bedtime.

Spicy meals: These can lead to indigestion and acid reflux, which can be particularly uncomfortable when you’re lying down.

High-sugar treats: Foods high in sugar can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a crash. This fluctuation can lead to nighttime awakenings and disrupted sleep patterns.

Fried foods: Like spicy foods, high-fat meals can also lead to indigestion and discomfort, making it more challenging to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Acidic dishes: For some, acidic foods—like citrus fruits and tomato-based dishes—can cause acid reflux and heartburn, which can disrupt your sleep.

Excessive water intake: Yes, staying hydrated is essential, but consuming excessive amounts of water right before bedtime can lead to waking up frequently during the night to use the restroom. Space out your hydration earlier in the day!

Image by Riley Blanks Reed

Beyond diet, what encourages a good night’s rest?

When it comes to getting a good night’s rest, your grocery basket is only one piece of the puzzle. Your habits, rituals, and stress levels all make a difference. Fortunately, there are practical strategies you can implement to inspire rejuvenating sleep.

Regular sleep schedule

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule as often as possible. Yes, even on weekends! This helps regulate your body’s internal clock and improves sleep quality.

Avoid long naps

Long—or late-afternoon—naps can disrupt your nighttime sleep. If you need to nap, keep it short (20-30 minutes).

Daylight exposure

Spending time outdoors during the day, especially in the morning, can help reset your circadian rhythm. Natural light exposure improves your body’s production of melatonin (our sleep hormone).

Limiting screen time

You know this, I know this, we all know this. The blue light emitted by smartphones, computers, and TVs can interfere with melatonin production and disrupt your sleep. Avoid screens at least an hour before sleep, or use blue light filters on your devices.

A bedtime routine

A calming bedtime routine signals to your body that it’s time to wind down. Activities like reading a book, taking a warm bath, listening to mellow classical music, or practicing relaxation techniques can be helpful.

An optimal sleep environment

This goes without saying, but ensure your sleep space is conducive to rest. This includes a comfortable mattress and pillows, a cool room temp, and minimal noise and light.

Regular exercise

Regular physical activity can improve sleep, but try to finish exercising at least a few hours before bedtime.

Stress management

Inevitably, stress and anxiety make it difficult to fall asleep. As you wind down, practice deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to alleviate stress and promote restful sleep.

Red or amber lights

Red or amber light—as opposed to blue light—is less likely to interfere with melatonin production. Opt for red or amber nightlights, dimming bright lights, or switch to candlelight where possible.

Hot and Cold Therapy for Better Sleep

Another non-food way to improve your sleep? Hot and cold therapy. Hot therapy—such as a warm bath or sauna—before bedtime, relaxes muscles and relieves tension. It’s particularly helpful for muscle soreness. Cold therapy, on the other hand, can be especially useful if you have difficulty falling asleep in a warm room. A cooler room temp (ideally no higher than 67 degrees Fahrenheit) can signal it’s time to sleep. Additionally, consider cooling pillows or bedding with moisture-wicking properties to reduce night sweats.

10 Foods That Help You Sleep

Time to elevate your sleepy time snack game. From cherries to chia seeds, stock your fridge and pantry with these bedtime wonders.

1. Cherries

As mentioned, cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. They’re an excellent choice for promoting sleep. Try this romaine, cherry, and feta salad for dinner.

2. Greek Yogurt

Plain Greek yogurt is high in protein, rich in tryptophan, and low in sugar, and it can help regulate blood sugar levels while you sleep. In need of ideas? We have plenty of Greek yogurt inspo. At the very least, opt for a small bowl of Greek yogurt with frozen cherries, chia seeds, and a drizzle of almond butter.

3. Chia Seeds

Speaking of chia seeds, they’re are an excellent source of fiber and healthy fats, and they’re another ingredient that can help keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the night. Prep a batch of this vanilla chia pudding to enjoy after dinner.

4. Oats

Oats contain complex carbohydrates that can increase the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to relaxation and improved sleep! Have a small bowl of oatmeal with nuts and seeds or keep a stash of these oatmeal cookies in your freezer.

5. Almonds

Almonds are a great source of magnesium, which helps reduce muscle tension and stress, making it easier to unwind before bedtime. Have a handful with a few pieces of dark chocolate or add a spoonful of almond butter to a small bowl of ice cream.

6. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality by regulating serotonin production. Enjoy a piece of whole-grain toast with a smear of cream cheese and a thin layer of smoked salmon. Otherwise, this hot honey-glazed salmon is a dinnertime winner.

7. Warm Milk

A warm glass of milk is rich in tryptophan, which can lead to better sleep. Add a scoop of your favorite chocolate protein powder and a drizzle of maple syrup for a decadent yet nourishing bedtime hot cocoa.

8. Leafy Greens 

Leafy greens, like spinach, are high in calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan to manufacture melatonin, enhancing sleep quality. Add leafy greens to your dinner or make a simple green smoothie prior to hitting the hay.

9. Turkey

Turkey is a good source of tryptophan, which, when combined with carbohydrates, can promote relaxation and improve sleep. Make a few turkey roll-ups to nosh on in the evening: deli turkey, a smear of Dijon mustard (or hummus), and a slice of cheddar cheese.

10. Tofu

Tofu is rich in protein, calcium, and isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen that can increase serotonin. This study found that adults who ate two or more soy servings slept longer and reported better sleep quality! Add this banh mí bowl to your dinner repertoire or this vegan chocolate mousse for dessert.

If You’re Feeling Stressed, a Nutritionist Says to Try Eating These 7 Foods

Meditation. Mindfulness. Movement. Meet the alliterative trifecta of stress-reducing practices. It’s no secret that these ubiquitous solutions to stress are widely written about and adopted. After all, they’re known to increase stress resilience and improve our ability to cope with triggers. But as we know, what we eat can also have the power to transform how we feel. Truly, it’s no secret that nutritious meals can boost our mood. And when it comes to the best stress-relieving foods, delicious, supportive ingredients are the key to feeling our best.

I’m wary of sweeping generalizations, but it’s safe to say that we’re likely all pretty familiar with the concept of stress. It can be assumed that we’ve likely all experienced it, too. Reports of a national mental health crisis are on the rise—and they have been for years. A March 2022 ValuePenguin survey found that 84% of Americans feel stressed at least once per week (an increase from 78% reported in March 2021). In other words: not good.

The Expert on Stress-Relieving Foods

The good news though, is that we can intentionally design our meals, snacks, drinks, and occasional indulgences to combat the creeping stress. When it comes to stress-relieving foods, the usual suspects prevail. Fruits, nuts, and adaptogenic herbs reign supreme, but adding a few surprise superfoods to the mix (hint, hint: organ meats) will contribute to a happier, healthier outlook and life.

I’ve teased the takeaways long enough. Ahead Kim Rose, RDN, shares her expertise in the world of stress-relieving foods. Keep reading for her top seven foods to eat for stress, plus key insights into the role diet plays in improving mental and emotional wellness. Let’s dive in.

Foods to Avoid or Limit to Reduce Stress

Rose cites alcohol and “sugary, caffeine-laden beverages” like energy drinks as being two of the biggest stress-inducing culprits. “Energy drinks may give you an artificial boost,” notes the dietitian, “but they can leave you with undesirable mental health outcomes that inflict stress.” Of course, our social and even professional lives are often structured around going out for drinks, ordering wine with dinner, and enjoying the occasional nightcap. But according to Rose, adopting a sober-curious lifestyle can help keep stress levels stable. (Because, after all, a little *good* stress comes with its own health benefits.)

If you don’t want to cut out alcohol completely, Rose looks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for an understanding of safe, recommended amounts of alcohol. Daily recommendations suggest no more than one serving of alcohol for women and no more than two servings for men, daily. “Alcohol may initially free your inhibitions and drown your stress, but it’s likely to leave you more stressed than you were before consumption,” she says. (See here for our favorite zero-ABV drinks that offer a tasty break from the booze.)

The Role Adaptogens Play in Stress-Relief

A buzzy word in wellness, adaptogens have been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions for centuries to combat stress. “Think of adaptogenic plants as natural stress regulators,” says Rose. Her top two favorites? Holy basil and ashwagandha. “Holy basil,” she notes, “is one adaptogenic plant that provides a foundation of calm to help us unwind after a long day.”

Ashwagandha, however, is perhaps the adaptogen that garners the most interest and attention. Rose says its popularity can be attributed to its stress-relieving magic. “The roots and berries of the ashwagandha plant have been used in traditional medicine for various purposes to enable you to relax and sleep well for a nightly recharge.”

Unfortunately, as with any health trend, suspicious products often flood the market. To be sure you’re purchasing high-quality, supportive adaptogens, Rose says to look for vendors with a National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certification. “NSF certification ensures that products, such as dietary supplements, have been tested for safety and that what’s listed on the label is what is in the product.”

For calmer days ahead, Rose emphasizes ensuring that you’re purchasing products with “clinically-effective levels of the adaptogen in question. This is another way to ensure that you get the benefit of that ingredient—in addition to clearing your use of it with your doctor, which is most important.”

7 Stress-Relieving Foods a Nutritionist Wants You to Try

Chamomile Tea

Already well-attuned to sipping chamomile tea as a before-bed beverage? Not only are you helping your sleepy self snooze away, but you’re proactively decreasing stress levels, too. Rose recommends brewing a cup at night to wind down or any time you’re craving something soothing throughout the day. Functional nightcaps for the win.

Recipe: Chamomile and Jasmine Herbal Ice Cubes


It’s no wonder turkey lulls us to sleep in the middle of our Thanksgiving meal, and according to Rose, it’s all thanks to tryptophan. “Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that our bodies can’t make; consequently, we must get it from the foods we eat.” She adds that tryptophan is the sole precursor to serotonin. Sound familiar? Yep—serotonin’s the feel-good, burnout-beating hormone known to reduce depression and regulate anxiety.

Recipe: Thai Chicken Salad With Spicy Peanut Dressing


Our forever-favorite fruit (a berry, if we’re getting specific) knows no bounds. Lauded equally for being full of skin-supporting biotin as they are for being delicious on a slice of toasted sourdough, avocados are also rich in magnesium. “Magnesium is important for stress management and guarding the body against susceptibility to stress,” adds Rose.

Recipe: Grapefruit, Avocado, and Golden Beet Salad with Crunchy Chickpeas and Feta


If they aren’t already your go-to snack, it’s time to stock up. “Cashew nuts are the way to go when looking for a tryptophan-rich food that can help you avoid burnout,” suggests Rose. If you don’t consume or crave poultry, cashews are a great plant-based option—and they make this cozy soup delectably creamy.

Recipe: Big Green Immunity-Boosting Vegetable Soup

Organ Meats

Now here’s the wild card. Rose advises adding liver, gizzards, and kidneys to your cart during your next trip to the store. “Vitamin B-2, also known as riboflavin, is found in organ meats,” she says. “Riboflavin helps to convert carbohydrates into energy that the body can use. It may also help you overcome the physical aspects of burnout.” Those benefits are enough to make anyone a believer. And if you’re still wary, trust that the taste is surprisingly, incredibly palatable. Some may say delicious.

Recipe: Chicken Liver Paté from Wholesome Yum

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate lovers, unite! This tried-and-true health-promoting staple is a favorite among the wellness-obsessed—and for good reason. “One, among several benefits,” notes Rose, “is that dark chocolate can be a great mood booster, combatting the overwhelming feelings of burnout.” Another reason to always say yes to a midday or after-dinner treat. These truffles pair the superfood with avocado to double down on the calm-inducing effects.

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Avocado Truffles from Eating Bird Food

Adaptogen-Fueled Beverages

If you’re new to the (wide) world of adaptogens, one of the easiest ways to reap the stress-busting benefits is to incorporate them into your drinks. This creamy and comforting hot cocoa incorporates a mix of adaptogens and is perfect for sipping on after your nighttime meal.

Recipe: Adaptogenic Hot Chocolate

This post was originally published on May 5, 2022, and has since been updated.

12 Easy-To-Digest Foods That Even the Most Sensitive Stomachs Can Handle

Truth be told: chronic digestive issues are the worst. They’re uncomfortable (if not painful), frustrating, and stress-inducing. They’re all it takes to spiral into a restrictive diet mission or a woe-is-me conversation with your bestie. We’ve all been there. Although an unsettled or bloated belly is totally normal from time to time, daily digestive upset is not. So, how to curb the latter? In part, by minimizing digestive offenders. But beyond food, there are other practical habits that improve digestion too—and we’ll dive into those. Without further ado, below are easy-to-digest foods (to eat on the reg). Soothe your stomach for a happier, healthier you.

Feature image by Michelle Nash.

Image by Michelle Nash

Why is healthy digestion important?

Because it impacts everything, really. Our digestive system is key for overall health and longevity. Being able to properly digest, assimilate, and remove what we consume is foundational. For our organs to work properly, our immune system to thrive, and our hormones to stay balanced, we need healthy digestion. Otherwise, we experience a host of uncomfortable symptoms: abdominal pain, bloating, inr gut has often been referred to as our “second brain.” That’s why optimal gut health—and knowing how to improve gut health if needed—is key.

Image by Michelle Nash

Signs of Good Gut Health

So, how do you know if your gastrointestinal tract is working? A few ways.

  • 1-2 bowel movements per day. (These should be well-formed and easy to pass.)
  • Free of symptoms like diarrhea and constipation.
  • Minimal gas, bloating, and infrequent abdominal pain.
  • Lack of skin disorders, autoimmune conditions, and inflammation.

Signs of Poor Digestion

Physically, you can probably tell. Signs of poor digestion include:

  • Frequent discomfort, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn 
  • Feeling chronically tired and experiencing mood swings.
  • Food cravings
  • Unintentional weight fluctuations
  • Skin issues like psoriasis and eczema
  • Autoimmune conditions

5 Steps to Improve Your Gut Health Through Diet

With optimal digestion as the goal, let’s dive into simple ways to improve your gut microbiome. 

  1. Focus on a diverse diet. Specifically, foods rich in fiber and antioxidants. The more variety, the better. After all, different ingredients can lead to a more diverse microbiome.
  2. Prioritize the Mediterranean way. There are a variety of reasons to eat like the Mediterraneans do, but mainly because of the emphasis on vegetables, fruits, beans, and legumes. These are high-fiber, gut-friendly foods that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. Eating a range of fresh, whole foods, mainly from plant sources, is shown to improve gut health.
  3. Choose fermented foods. Fermented foods (or drinks!), like plain yogurt, kimchi, and tempeh can benefit the microbiome. They enhance its function and reduce the abundance of disease-causing bacteria in the intestines.
  4. Add in prebiotics. Prebiotics are food for your gut’s microbiome. Many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain prebiotics—like these starches. Eating cooked and cooled potatoes and rice, for example, turns some of the digestible starches into resistant starches.
  5. Increase probiotics. Fermented foods, like yogurt, tempeh, and kimchi are great. Otherwise, opt for a probiotic supplement.
Image by Michelle Nash

12 Easy-To-Digest Foods

This goes without saying, but what you eat directly influences your gut bacteria. And as mentioned, we want a healthy gut to keep chronic diseases at bay, but to also reduce inflammation, keep your emotions stable, and help you maintain an optimal weight.

Good news: it’s never too late to improve your gut health! Research shows that diversifying your plate can change your microbiome in as little as 24 hours. A few of the best foods for gut health include asparagus, artichokes, chia seeds, coconut yogurt, leafy greens, and sauerkraut. When it comes to gut health, keep in mind that how you eat is just as important as what you eat.

What should you eat to maintain a healthy diet—while avoiding digestive problems? Let’s take a look at these 12 easy-to-digest foods that may help.

1. Bananas

The riper the banana is, the easier to digest (caveat—if you struggle with IBS, they may be harder to digest than strawberries or grapes). Bananas are rich in carbohydrates, potassium, and fiber. They also provide fluid, which is important for those with diarrhea or constipation. Last but not least, bananas are great for PMS. When possible, pair bananas with Greek yogurt (a source of protein and probiotics) and chia seeds to aid in blood sugar balance.

2. Bone Broth

Broths—particularly bone broth—are incredibly nutrient-rich and easy to digest. They contain amino acids, electrolytes, and collagen (all of which are soothing when your stomach is upset). Nutrients vary between broths, but many contain vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamin K, vitamin A, zinc, and more. All of which can improve overall gut health and nervous system function.

Image by Suruchi Avasthi

3. White Rice

Fiber is generally a good thing when it comes to gut health, but for someone with gastrointestinal issues, high-fiber foods may not be the best idea. Fiber is hard to digest, which can be problematic for someone with slow motility. Therefore, low-fiber foods, like white rice, potatoes, and low-fiber fruits (like grapefruit) are easier on the stomach. When possible, pair white rice with a side of healthy fats (avocado or olive oil) and high-quality protein. This will help with gut distress and blood sugar balance.

4. Sourdough Bread

Like white rice, sourdough bread is a low-fiber food. Furthermore, sourdough bread may be easier to digest than other refined grains. According to some studies, sourdough bread acts as a prebiotic, which means that the fiber in the bread helps feed the good bacteria in your intestines. These bacteria are important for maintaining a stable, healthy digestive system.

Image by Michelle Nash

5. Lean Protein

Lean, high-quality protein (poultry, fish, tofu, low-fat dairy, etc.) tend to be easy to digest. In part, due to their low fiber content. However, it’s also important not to go overboard with the protein either. When portions are too large in one sitting, it might impact your ability to digest quickly. Furthermore, try to limit ultra-processed forms of protein, like sausage and protein bars.

6. Cooked Vegetables

When it comes to vegetables, prioritize cooking them. Once cooked, they’re less fibrous. In other words, the heat aids in digestion. While cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts) can cause digestive woes, produce like spinach, pumpkin, squash, and carrots are easier to digest. They have less fiber and are soft once cooked.

Image by Michelle Nash

7. Applesauce

Fruit is rich in nutrients and antioxidants, but the fiber in fruit can lead to digestive troubles. Luckily, the solution is simple. Like produce, cook and puree it to break down the fiber and make it easier to digest. Applesauce is very easy on the stomach, plus it contains pectic, which may help treat some types of diarrhea.

8. Eggs

Whether hard-boiled, poached, or scrambled, eggs are rich in nutrients—protein, choline, calcium, phosphorus, and more. And for most, they’re easy to digest. Serve eggs with sourdough toast for an added dose of carbohydrates. If frying your eggs, use ghee instead of butter (or olive oil), as it may be easier on the stomach. Due to their sulphur content, eggs can contribute to intestinal gas for some, but they are beneficial for other digestive symptoms.

Image by Michelle Nash

9. Instant Oats

Love oatmeal but the fiber doesn’t agree with your gut? Give instant oatmeal a shot. Also known as quick oats, instant oatmeal are the most processed and broken down of the oats, thereby making it a bit easier to digest. To make it more digestive-friendly, add chia seeds, stewed berries, and a dollop of Greek yogurt. All of these ingredients are great for the gut and help with stable blood sugar in the morning.

10. Gelatin

Gelatin-rich soups and broths are also one of the key components of the GAPS diet, which has been designed to heal the gut and promote healthy digestion. But, what is gelatin? Gelatin is made from animal collagen—a protein that makes up connective tissues, such as skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Gelatin also absorbs water and helps keep fluid in the digestive tract, promoting good intestinal transit and healthy bowel movements. If you can’t get behind gelatin, consider adding a scoop of collagen to your morning coffee or matcha. You won’t taste it!

Image by Suruchi Avasthi

11. Low-Fat Greek Yogurt

Dealing with bloat? You may want to pay attention to the texture of the food you’re consuming. The texture of your food can often dictate how bloated you will feel after. If bloating (or gastroparesis) is something you deal with, eating soft foods such as yogurt, smoothies, soups, and pureed foods may provide some relief. Why low-fat yogurt? While full-fat yogurt is better for satiation, non-fat is easier on the stomach. It also gets bonus points for having probiotics, which help promote digestive health in the long run.

12. Salmon

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein, salmon is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s also easy to digest. Salmon’s fatty acids help reduce inflammation. In turn, lowering our risk for digestive disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, and more. Not only can eating more salmon help reduce discomfort, it can improve overall digestion. Add baked or poached salmon to your weekly repertoire to support your gut health.

Image by Michelle Nash

Foods That Are Hard to Digest

Contrary to foods that are east to digest, the Standard American Diet isn’t exactly filled with gut-supporting foods. Generally speaking, some of the top gut offenders are:

In other words, these ingredients can have a massive impact on overfeeding yeast and candida in the body. In turn, you guessed it, negatively affecting the gut.

Not sure if your digestive health is up to par? Rather than start nixing certain ingredients, partner with a functional medicine doctor or gastroenterologist to get to the root of your gut issues.

Easy To Digest Foods

This post was originally published on February 16, 2023, and has since been updated.

A Nutritionist’s Top 10 Foods to Improve Your Gut Health

What houses one of the most complex and abundant ecosystems on the planet? The human gut. Shockingly, we’re more bacteria than we are human. Our bodies contain trillions of microorganisms—outnumbering human cells 10 to 1. Whoa. Everything we eat, drink, touch, lather, and interact with can change those microorganisms. Behind the scenes, your lifestyle is either helping, hurting, or balancing your delicate yet powerful gut health. And while some lifestyle factors are beyond your control, you can control what’s on your plate. What you consume can make or break your digestion. Today, we’re sharing why gut health is important, the best foods for gut health, and top offenders to avoid. Time to dig in.

Featured image from our interview with Kate Waitzkin by Michelle Nash.

A Gut Health Refresher

We all know gut health—also known as the microbiome—is important. And the science proves it. An ever-growing amount of research points to the enormous role your gut plays in overall health and wellbeing. A balanced gut is necessary for proper digestion, but having enough good bacteria also keeps you healthy in other ways. For example, by producing vitamins, supporting the immune system, and fending off harmful bacteria.

With more than 70% of your immune system residing in your gut, it’s worth keeping your gut well-nourished. The good news is, most people can enhance their gut health naturally through diet and proper supplements. Making space in your fridge for the best foods for gut health is definitely worth the effort.

What is the microbiome?

Your microbiome is an ecosystem of bacteria. It not only helps ferment the food you eat, but these bacteria can support blood sugar balance, digestion, and optimal health. Your gut helps support and protect your body from the outside world. Everything from antibiotics to inflammatory foods and birth control pills can negatively affect your gut. If you’re experiencing issues like poor digestion, stomach discomfort, or acne, it might be a sign of a microbial imbalance in the gut.

Image by Michelle Nash

How to Achieve a Healthy Microbiome

Diversify, diversify, diversify. Eating balanced amounts of both probiotics and prebiotics can help ensure that you have the right balance of bacteria to keep your gut microbiota healthy. And many factors, including the foods you eat, can impact the type of bacteria found in your digestive tract. Generally speaking, a diverse microbiome equals a healthy microbiome. This is because the more species of bacteria you have, the more health benefits they can support. In fact, several studies show that elderly people possess a more diverse gut microbiota than younger adults. Between long-living Chinese, Japanese, and Italian people, all cohorts revealed diverse and balanced gut microbiota.

5 Steps to Improve Gut Health

Given that we all want to live long, vibrant lives, let’s dive into simple ways to improve your gut microbiome. 

  1. Eat foods for gut health. Specifically, a diverse diet that’s rich in whole foods and antioxidants. A diet consisting of different food types can lead to a more diverse microbiome, which is beneficial for your health.
  2. Prioritize the Mediterranean diet. There are a variety of reasons to eat a Mediterranean diet, but mainly because of the emphasis on vegetables, fruits, beans, and legumes. These are high-fiber, gut-friendly foods that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. Eating a range of fresh, whole foods, mainly from plant sources, is shown to improve gut health.
  3. Choose fermented foods. Fermented foods (or drinks!), like plain yogurt, kimchi, and tempeh can benefit the microbiome. They enhance its function and reduce the abundance of disease-causing bacteria in the intestines.
  4. Add in prebiotics. Many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain prebiotics, but they can also be found on their own. Resistant starch (like an unripe banana) can also be a prebiotic. If eating an unripe banana sounds unappetizing, you can also benefit from prebiotics by eating cooked and cooled potatoes and rice. The cooling turns some of the digestible starches into resistant starches.
  5. Increase your intake of probiotics. One of the most powerful ways? Take a probiotic supplement.

10 Foods for Gut Health

As mentioned, what you eat directly influences the makeup of bacteria in your gut. Which, in turn, impacts your health. A healthy gut helps keep chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer at bay, and can also reduce inflammation, keep your brain healthy, and help you maintain an optimal weight. It’s never too late to change your diet! Research shows that diversifying your plate can change your microbiome in as little as 24 hours.


Eating asparagus is an excellent way to help meet your fiber needs and keep your digestive system healthy. As a good source of fiber, asparagus promotes regularity and digestive health and may help reduce your risk of certain conditions, like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Recipe: Spring Potato Pizza With Asparagus And Burrata


Artichokes are high in fiber, which can help keep your digestive system healthy. This delicious spring veggie feeds gut bacteria, reducing your risk of certain bowel cancers, alleviating constipation, and helping mitigate other digestive woes. Plus, artichokes contain inulin, a type of fiber which acts as a prebiotic.

Recipe: Spinach Artichoke Tarts

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds can act as a prebiotic, helping your stomach produce good bacteria. In turn, chia seeds support a properly functioning digestive system. A superfood, they also act as a cleansing agent for your digestive system. They turn into a sticky gel-like substance when soaked in water.

Recipe: Protein Pancakes With Blueberries and Chia Seeds

Coconut Yogurt

Due to its probiotic nature, coconut yogurt can aid in digestive health. All yogurt is a slightly fermented food filled with healthy bacteria. Traditionally, yogurt is made from animal milk. However, there are plenty of plant-based yogurts available, including coconut yogurt. We love Cocojune and COCOYO. In fact, COCOYO boasts a whopping 25 billion probiotics per 1/2 cup serving (with no added sugar).

Recipe: Yogurt & Granola Breakfast Grazing Board


Cue: Beans, beans, the magical fruit… In all seriousness, beans are one of the most beneficial foods for gut health. A variety of beans, especially black beans, enhance gut health by improving intestinal barrier function and increasing the number of beneficial bacteria. This may help prevent gut-associated diseases.

Recipe: Sweet Potato and Chickpea Bowl with Feta Yogurt

Flax Seeds

Flaxseed is commonly used to improve digestive health or relieve constipation. Flaxseed may also help lower total blood cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol levels, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Be sure to grind your seeds or buy ground flaxseed—and keep them stored in the fridge or freezer. You can add ground flax to smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt bowls or use as an egg replacement in vegan baked goods.

Recipe: Chocolate Banana Almond Butter Smoothie

Leafy Greens

No surprise that leafy greens are included in this list of foods for gut health. Leafy greens, such as spinach or kale, are excellent sources of fiber, as well as nutrients like folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin A. Research shows that leafy greens also contain a specific type of sugar that helps fuel the growth of healthy gut bacteria.

Recipe: Green Sauce Pasta


Like beans, lentils can help improve gut health. Because lentils are a source of prebiotic fiber, they can help improve digestion. They can also help manage blood sugar levels and have been shown to make your heart healthier, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

Recipe: Black Lentil Salad with Roasted Vegetables & Goat Cheese


All fermented foods are wonderful for the gut! Sauerkraut, or fermented cabbage, is loaded with vitamins C and K, iron, and fiber, and naturally contains healthy gut bacteria. The nutritional value of certain ingredients, like cabbage, can be enriched by fermentation and it makes the food easier for us to digest. Surprise your guests and offer sauerkraut at your next brunch!

Recipe: Best Buddha Bowl from Love & Lemons


Foods rich in fermentable fibers, like sweet potato, cauliflower, butternut squash, and other squash varieties are great for stimulating the colon’s good bacteria. These ingredients also stabilize blood sugar levels, increasing low acid stomach levels and reduce inflammation in the gut.

Recipe: Roasted Delicata Squash

The Power of Resistance Starch

With each meal, consider how you can incorporate the aforementioned ingredients! Ultimately, you want to feed the good bacteria in your gut. Your good gut bacteria eat resistant starches (also known as prebiotics), which can be found in vegetables, legumes, and seeds. Other sources of prebiotics include acacia fiber, psyllium husk, and inulin. These come in the form of thin powders. You can easily add to your smoothie, coffee, or hot drink of choice—they feed your gut prebiotic fiber to create a very healthy digestive tract.

Add Fermented Foods

Beyond resistance starch, consider fermented foods. They’re a wonderful (and delicious!) way to feed your good bacteria. Foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and coconut yogurt help populate your microbiome with diverse probiotics and essential nutrients.

The Worst Foods for Gut Health

Rather than classify foods as good or bad, it’s important to emphasize the importance of bio-individuality. You are unique—as is your gut bacteria. That’s a beautiful thing! Knowing how different foods might affect your gut will help you make informed decisions. Generally speaking, refined grains, refined sugars, industrial seed oils, conventional dairy, and alcohol are gut-offenders. In essence, these ingredients can have a massive impact on overfeeding yeast and candida in the body. In turn—you guessed it—affecting gut health.

Desperate for Sleep? 10 Melatonin-Rich Foods a Nutritionist Loves for Quality Rest

It should come as no surprise that we love our beauty rest. From tips to getting a better night’s sleep to the best alarm clocks to help you quit your nighttime phone habit, we have the tools to help you clock your zzz’s. And given the busyness of our day-to-day lives, it’s especially important to prioritize sleep. After all, not clocking enough hours can lead to slower cognitive function, more cravings, and irritability. Along with establishing good sleep hygiene—like a nighttime routine—did you know that nutrition plays a role in how well you sleep? That’s right. Your diet can greatly impact the sleep you are (or aren’t) getting. Today, we’re diving into the power of melatonin and foods high in melatonin.

Ahead, learn everything you need to know about melatonin and delicious recipes to get you started. A good night’s rest might be a handful of pistachios away.

Featured image by Michelle Nash.

What is melatonin?

Known as the “hormone of darkness,” melatonin is produced in response to nighttime. It is essential for good sleep. In essence, melatonin helps with the timing of our circadian rhythm (24-hour internal clock). Located in the middle of the brain, this unique hormone is created by the pineal gland. It functions with the sun. Meaning, more melatonin is made when the sun goes down, and less melatonin is made when the sun comes up. Although most people produce enough melatonin for their general needs, research shows that foods high in melatonin can improve sleep. 

How Melatonin Affects the Body

Melatonin’s main job is to regulate night and day cycles. Said differently: Melatonin manages our sleep-wake cycles. Darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, signaling the body to prepare for sleep. Light, on the other hand, decreases melatonin production. In turn, light signals the body to prepare for wakefulness. By viewing light first thing in the day (hello, sunlight!), you set in motion these two timers. One for wakefulness that starts immediately and one for sleepiness that starts later in the day. 

Image by Michelle Nash

Blue Light Exposure and Melatonin Suppression

Whether you’ve stayed up answering emails, finishing a lengthy work task, aimlessly scrolling through social media, or binging episodes of your favorite shows, we’ve all spent late nights in front of a screen. Thus, we’ve all felt the effects of too much blue light. Blue light is a portion of the visible light spectrum. It can have unique effects on alertness, hormone production, and sleep cycles. This wavelength of light is emitted by LED, fluorescent lights, as well as most electronic devices.

The issue with too much blue light, especially at night, is it makes falling asleep much more difficult. In fact, recent studies show that indoor room light (i.e., blue light from fluorescent bulbs) can elicit strong melatonin suppression. This suggests that individuals who habitually expose themselves to light during nighttime hours can experience reduced melatonin levels. In turn, perturbed sleep rhythms. Some ways to combat blue light exposure include:

  • Invest in a pair of blue blocker glasses.
  • Switch your device to “nighttime mode” after the sun goes down.
  • Make your bedroom a screen-free zone.

How Sleep Deprivation Impacts the Brain

Sleep deprivation is a typical consequence of melatonin suppression. Being sleep deprived leaves your brain exhausted and body hungry. Particularly when it comes to brain health, sleep is key. When you’re tired, your brain can’t perform its duties as well. You may also find it more difficult to concentrate or learn new things.

Furthermore, the signals your body sends to your brain may also be delayed, decreasing your coordination and increasing your risk for accidents. Long-term, clocking less than seven hours (consistently) means the brain has less time to clear beta-amyloid, and toxic levels can raise the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Image by Michelle Nash

Diet’s Role in Sleep

Everything from exercise, to time spent in the sun, to how many hours we spend looking at our phones can impact sleep. All of those factors, in combination with the foods and drinks we consume, make a difference. While it may seem obvious why a double espresso after dinner (or a greasy, late-night cheeseburger) isn’t the best for restful sleep, the connection between daytime eats and nighttime sleep is less straightforward. However, we know that eating a healthy and nutrient-rich diet affects our brain health and our blood sugar levels. These, in turn, affect the quality of our sleep.

Food Helps Regulate Our Circadian Rhythm

In essence, eating less fiber, more saturated fats, and more sugar throughout the day is linked with lighter, less restorative sleep. In one study, researchers tracked diet and sleep for a group of healthy adults over the course of five nights and found that indeed, food choices during the day negatively impacted sleep. 

As you can guess, there’s also a connection between sleep and how we metabolize food. Diet and food choices help regulate our circadian rhythm, meaning that what we eat helps us fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up ready to refuel.

Image by Michelle Nash

Do I need a melatonin supplement?

Stroll the vitamin aisle at your local grocery store or supermarket, and you’ll likely find melatonin supplements. Thanks in part to the pandemic, melatonin sales jumped 40% in 2020. At any rate, you might be wondering: My sleep isn’t great, should I take a melatonin supplement? This depends. 

Melatonin is generally safe for short-term use, but studies on its long-term effects are limited. The immediate side effects of melatonin are typically mild, but it can cause dependency, headaches, short-term feelings of depression, daytime sleepiness, dizziness, stomach cramps, and irritability. Additionally, melatonin can have strong effects on our sex steroid hormones (the pathways related to estrogen and testosterone). All in all, there may be more downsides than upsides to taking melatonin. Of course, speak with your doctor before adding melatonin to your supplement routine. 

10 Foods High in Melatonin

If you’re interested in altering your diet before trying a melatonin supplement, you’re in good hands. Luckily, you don’t need to fill your pantry and fridge with superfoods. Rather, think of the Mediterranean diet. Consuming a variety of plant and / or animal-based foods can do the trick—helping you naturally increase melatonin.

These foods are high in melatonin to help you sleep:

Tart cherries

Containing sleep-promoting properties, tart cherries are touted as a natural source of melatonin. In fact, researchers have found that tart cherry juice increases melatonin levels in the body and enhances sleep.

Recipe: Tart Cherry Juice Elixir by Abra’s Kitchen


Pistachios hit the sleep-inducing jackpot. The melatonin found in foods like pistachios won’t make you groggy, but it may signal your body that it’s time to sleep. Furthermore, pistachios contain protein, vitamin B6, and magnesium, all of which contribute to better sleep. 

Recipe: Ricotta with Pears and Honeyed Pistachios


Among animal products, eggs are one of the best sources of melatonin. Eggs are also highly nutritious, offering protein and iron, among other essential nutrients. Plus, they’re a rich source of tryptophan, necessary for restful sleep.

Recipe: Spicy Mexican Baked Eggs


Like eggs, milk contains ample levels of melatonin and tryptophan. In fact, studies have shown that milk harvested at night (night milk) contains exceptionally high amounts of tryptophan and melatonin.

Recipe: Curcuma Golden Mylk


Fish with bones, such as sardines, may help to promote healthy melatonin production when you need it. 

Recipe: Tomato Sardine Toast by Nomaste Hungry


Containing more melatonin than other meats, salmon is a good source of vitamin B6, which promotes the production of sleep hormones. Plus, salmon is high in protein, helping keep you full throughout the night.

Recipe: Hot Honey Glazed Salmon


Along with pistachios, almonds are a great source of melatonin and magnesium (sleep-enhancing mineral). Both of these properties support the notion that almonds are helpful to eat before bed.

Recipe: Charred Carrots with Honey-Lime Yogurt, Dates, and Almonds


Figs are rich in magnesium, fiber, and melatonin. These are all directly linked to improving the quality and duration of sleep.

Recipe: Get Figgy With It Smoothie


Grains in oatmeal trigger insulin production much like whole-grain bread. In essence, they raise your blood sugar naturally and make you feel sleepy. Oats are also rich in melatonin, which relaxes the body and helps you fall asleep.

Recipe: Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

Sweet potatoes

Similar to oats, sweet potatoes stimulate melatonin production and gradually energize your body throughout the night, increasing the duration of your sleep. 

Recipe: Sweet Potato and Chickpea Bowl with Feta Yogurt

This post was originally published on October 13, 2021, and has since been updated.