The Absolute Best Fruits and Vegetables for Sleep

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

It can be hard to eat well when you're sleep deprived – all you want to do is curl up in bed and hope for sleep. However, it's important that you try to eat healthily since there are so many fruits and vegetables with ingredients that are essential for good sleep. Here are a few of the best.

Essential nutrients for sleep

Generally speaking, look for foods that are high in melatonin (helps to control the body's circadian rhythm), calcium and vitamin B6 (helps the brain produce melatonin), tryptophan and vitamin C (helps produce serotonin and melatonin), and potassium and magnesium (deficiency is associated with insomnia and restless legs syndrome).

Best vegetable for melatonin: sweet corn

Sweet corn contains high levels of naturally occurring melatonin. It's also gluten free and can be used as a substitute for rice in those with celiac disease. One hundred grams of raw sweet corn also contains about 10 percent of your recommended intake of magnesium.

Recipe idea: Try mixing up a sweetcorn salsa with chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers, avocados, and lime juice.

Best fruit for melatonin: pineapple

Pineapples have been found to more than double melatonin levels in the body. One pineapple also contains 50 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B6 and 27 percent of the recommended daily intake of magnesium.

Recipe idea: Try adding freshly chopped pineapple to a bowl of oatmeal.

Best vegetable for calcium: collard greens

One cup of boiled collard greens contains 268mg of calcium. Collard greens also contain healthy amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and magnesium.

Recipe idea: Mix chopped collard greens with a few slices of bacon, some onion and garlic powder, salt and pepper, and simmer for several hours.

Best fruit for calcium: figs

One cup of uncooked, dried figs contains 241mg of calcium and a quarter of the recommended daily intake of magnesium.

Recipe idea: Create your own fruit and nut bars by combining dried figs with chopped nuts and raw honey.

Best vegetable for tryptophan: soybeans

A cup of roasted soybeans contains 535mg of tryptophan – that's 191 percent of the recommended daily intake for an adult!

Recipe idea: Pick up a package of frozen shelled edamame, thaw and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes.

Best fruit for tryptophan: avocado

Technically a fruit (more specifically, a single-seeded berry!), 100g of avocado contains 33mg of tryptophan. If you still don't consider avocado to be a fruit, try kiwis instead — 100g of kiwifruit contains 14mg of tryptophan.

Recipe idea: Try mixing up an avocado smoothie with kiwi, lime, milk, and honey.

Best vegetable for potassium: swiss chard

A cup of boiled swiss chard contains 961mg of potassium in a one cup serving. The recommended daily intake of potassium for an adult is 4.7g per day.

Recipe idea: Boil swiss chard for three minutes, drain and mix with chopped raw garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Best fruit for potassium: dried apricots

We typically associate bananas with potassium. Although they're a good choice, one medium banana only provides 422mg of potassium compared to 1,511mg in one cup of dried apricots.

Recipe idea: Mix dried apricots into a bowl of couscous. Consider adding other potassium rich veggies such as mushrooms and broccoli.

Best vegetable for magnesium: spinach

A cup of boiled spinach contains 157mg of magnesium — that's 39 percent of an adult's recommended daily intake. Spinach also contains other sleep promoting nutrients such as calcium and potassium.

Recipe idea: A spinach quiche can be made without too much effort — especially if you use a ready-made pie crust.

Best fruit for magnesium: banana

Although figs contain more magnesium by weight than bananas, you just can't beat the availability, affordability, and convenience of a banana! One medium banana contains 32mg of magnesium.

Recipe idea: Mix with yogurt and pumpkin seeds (one cup of dried pumpkin seeds contain a whopping 764mg of magnesium).

Martin Reed
Meet Our Writer
Martin Reed

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Coach, an eight-week course that combines online sleep education with individual sleep coaching. His course helps clients improve their sleep so they can enjoy a better life with more energy and start each day feeling happy, healthy, rested, and refreshed. Martin also runs a free sleep training course that has helped over 5,000 insomniacs. He holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education and studied clinical sleep health at the University of Delaware.