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Posts tagged ‘tryptophan’

Cashews to Beat the Blues

Cashews to Beat the Blues

What makes cashews so powerful? Tryptophan. That’s right; tryptophan isn’t just in your holiday turkey. One serving of cashews contains 28% of our RDA of the essential amino acid. Tryptophan is actually a precursor to serotonin. When serotonin levels are low, anxiety and depression can set in. The body uses tryptophan to produce serotonin in the brain, so 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cashews can actually help your body boost its stores. In fact, about 1/2 cup of cashews contains around 500 mg of tryptophan, which is justified as a therapeutic amount for mood elevation. Just don’t start eating 1/2 cup of cashews every day as, although they are healthy, they are nutritionally dense in calories.

But tryptophan alone is not what makes cashews such a powerful antidepressant food. Cashews are also high in magnesium and B6. Our modern diets are often deficient in magnesium, due to stress and poor eating habits. Incidentally, magnesium has been shown to prevent and rapidly treat depression in many patients, so it is an incredibly important mineral for mood balance. B6, on the other hand, is also extremely important, as it is the vitamin responsible for tryptophan’s conversion into serotonin. It also enhances magnesium’s absorption by the body. In fact, tryptophan, B6, and magnesium work together as a trifecta of mood-boosters, and cashews are a great source of all of ‘em.

Cashews aren’t a miracle food, however. It is still important to reduce stress, get moderate exercise, and consume a healthy diet to get the one-up on depression. Stress may be the most significant factor, as cortisol can prevent tryptophan from being converted in the body. So, be sure to practice meditation, yoga, or positive self talk with those cashews, and be sure to always consult a trusted doctor for anything occurring chronically.

What’s often overlooked, however, is that nutrition and depression are inextricably linked. If you are feeling blue, it may be a good idea to get tested for dietary deficiencies before popping pills. Other great foods loaded with tryptophan, if you are adverse to cashews, are pumpkin seeds and beans. But, with B6, magnesium, and tryptophan, cashews are veritable depression busters. Keeping some on hand in your freezer for a quick and delicious boost or to combat the winter doldrums is an excellent idea.

Leesa recommends choosing Organic Cashews, Organic Pumpkin Seeeds, and Organic Beans!

By Jordan Cormier

Jordyn is a choreographer, freelance writer, and an avid outdoors woman. Having received her B.F.A. in Contemporary Dance from the Boston Conservatory, she is passionate about maintaining a healthy body, mind, and soul through food and fitness. A lover of adventure, Jordyn can often be found hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, and making herself at home in the backcountry! 


Would feeling fantastic every day make a difference in your life?  

Healthy Highway is a Healthy Lifestyle Company offering Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!   We help people who are…

  • Wanting Work Life Balance.
  • Needing Stress Relief.
  • Concerned about their health and the environment.
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  • Overwhelmed with choosing the best products for their body, home, and office.
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  • Standing at a Career Crossroad.
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Are any of these an issue or problem for you?  Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your needs and how HealthyHighway can meet them? As a Healthy Lifestyle Coach with an emphasis on allergies and wellness, Leesa teaches her clients to make informed choices and enables them to make needed changes for a Happy Healthy Lifestyle. What you eat, what products you use ~ on your body and in your home and office, how you talk to yourself ~ it all matters!

Contact me today and Start today to live a healthier, happier life!  Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem.  We do virtual coaching worldwide!

I look forward to helping YOU Live a Happy Healthy Life!  Remember, Excellent Health is found along your way, not just at your destination.

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author of two books…
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5 Foods to Fight Insomnia

5 Foods to Fight Insomnia

If you’re having trouble catching some Zzzs, the solution could be as close as your kitchen.  Sleep restores us. And not getting enough of it can put us at greater risk of heart disease and cancer. Sleep even makes us smarter. Yet researchers are finding that more than 10 percent of the population is chronically sleep deprived. If you’re having trouble slipping into and remaining in Dreamland, don’t dart straight to prescription sleep drugs, which can be habit-forming, harmful if you live with certain conditions, and even downright bizarre! (Some people develop sleep-eating and sleep-driving habits when using prescription sleeping pills.) The good news is, science has found that many foods, drinks, herbs, and other natural sleep aids can help put you to sleep…naturally. In fact, just this summer, researchers made the connection between tart cherry juice and getting adequate shut-eye. Here are some natural food- and drink-based sleep aids.


In the small study, participants drank eight ounces of the tart cherry (also known as sour cherry) juice in the morning, and another eight ounces in the evening, for two weeks and reported better sleeping habits. Since all cherries are naturally high in melatonin, a compound that makes us sleepy, you can try eating a cup as a snack before it’s time for shut-eye if you’d rather not drink the juice.


Certain fish and sea creatures contain sleep-inducing tryptophan, including shrimp, cod, tuna, and halibut. But since not all seafood choices are healthy for us (some are high in contaminants) or for the planet (many are overfished, or methods for catching them kill other species), stick to catches like Pacific cod from Alaska or pole-caught Albacore tuna from the U.S. or British Columbia.

Carb/Protein Combo

If keeping track of the latest safe seafood guidelines is too complicated, you can get your tryptophan fix from other things. You’ve probably heard that warm milk can help you sleep, since milk contains tryptophan. But the key is to combine carbs with a protein containing tryptophan to help your body better utilize the sleep inducer. Try pairing a cup of whole grain cereal with organic milk before bedtime.

Lemon Balm

This lemon-scented member of the mint family has been a sleep-inducing superstar for ages. Other benefits include better digestion and decreased agitation. Try making lemon balm tea by steeping 1 to 2 teaspoons of the dried herb in 1 cup of hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. (If you take thyroid meds, talk to you doctor…drinking the tea could mean you’ll have to adjust your dosage.)

Other Herbs

If lemon balm’s not your thing, another herb, sage, also works as a natural sleep aid. Just steep 4 tablespoons in a cup of hot water, steep for four hours, strain, and reheat to drink. Chamomile tea and valerian teas, other sleep inducers, are also more widely available pre-bagged in natural food stores, if you don’t want to fuss with the aforementioned straining herbs.

By Leah Zerbe is a new original source for daily news, information, and advice on personal and environmental health. focuses on “Where Health Meets Green” topics, providing daily news stories and breaking news along with easy-to-follow, high-impact tips and advice. features a Daily Newsletter, and provides simple, powerful tools including Recipe Finder and Home Remedy Finder to help audiences improve their health and their environment. also includes “Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen,” a personal blog where Editor-in-Chief and Rodale, Inc. CEO and Chairman Maria Rodale is “Cooking Up Trouble, Dishing Out Advice.”

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