Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces to signal that it’s time to go to sleep (1, 2).

Because sleep can significantly affect your health, increasing your intake of melatonin through food or supplements may be beneficial (2, 3).

Pistachios, in particular, are often touted as a natural sleep aid, thanks to their purported melatonin content.

However, many people may wonder whether this nutritious nut is actually a good source of the hormone.

This article takes a closer look at the melatonin content of pistachios and how it might affect your body.

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Your body typically makes melatonin in response to darkness. In most people, melatonin production usually peaks around 2 a.m. (1, 2, 4).

Melatonin signals your body to relax when it’s time to go to sleep, which can help promote a healthy sleep schedule (4).

Although it’s produced naturally by your body, melatonin-containing foods can also increase levels of this important hormone (2, 5).

This means that the naturally occurring melatonin found in many foods can help your body understand that it’s time for bed (2, 5).

Furthermore, melatonin can aid the body in other ways. For instance, it can help keep your eyes healthy, calm stomach ulcers and heartburn, and even regulate immune function (1, 2, 4).

summary

Melatonin is both produced by the body and found naturally in many foods. In addition to promoting a healthy sleep schedule, it offers several other potential benefits.

Only two studies have evaluated the melatonin content of pistachios, specifically.

One 2014 study estimated that a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of shelled pistachios contains about 23 mg of melatonin by using a device that measured the emission of light (2, 6).

This is significantly higher than the amount found in most melatonin supplements, which can range from 0.1–10 mg per dose (7).

However, some researchers have expressed concerns about the methods used in this study and whether the findings are accurate (8).

Another study performed by the American Pistachio Growers measured the amount of melatonin using two methods and reported that raw and roasted pistachios contained 0.0034-0.066 mg of melatonin per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving (9).

Therefore, more high quality studies are needed to determine exactly how much melatonin is found in pistachios.

summary

Although two studies have evaluated the amount of melatonin found in pistachios, more research is needed due to concerns about the accuracy and limitations of these studies.

Many foods are rich in melatonin, including grains, mushrooms, fish, eggs, and fruit (2).

Here are the melatonin contents of some common foods (2):

  • Mushrooms: 4,300–6,400 nanograms per gram
  • Oats: 91 nanograms per gram
  • Basmati rice: 38 nanograms per gram
  • Cherries: 10–20 nanograms per gram
  • Tomatoes: 1–67 nanograms per gram
  • Walnuts: 0.1-4 nanograms per gram
  • Salmon: 4 nanograms per gram
  • Eggs: 2 nanograms per gram
  • Cow’s milk: 0.014 nanograms per milliliter

Keep in mind that these amounts can vary quite a bit, depending on the method used to estimate the melatonin content.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that although cow’s milk doesn’t contain a significant amount of melatonin, it does pack high amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid that your body can convert to melatonin (5, 10).

summary

Besides pistachios, several other food sources of melatonin are available, including certain types of mushrooms, grains, fruits, and nuts.

Melatonin is a hormone that signals your body that it’s time to sleep.

While your body naturally produces melatonin, it can also be found in supplements and foods.

Although more research is needed on exactly how much melatonin is found in pistachios, many other food sources, including nuts, grains, and mushrooms, can help boost your intake naturally.