Researchers from Monash University in Australia and collaborative institutes explored roles that diet played in the quality of sleep and in mortality.  The study, recently published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, examined 1,865 men and women, ages 65 and older that were enrolled in the Nutrition and Health Survey in Taiwan. Researchers found that sleep had a more important role in men living longer, while women who ate foods rich in vitamin B6 could still live long lives despite poor sleep habits… another reason for women to enjoy bananas.

“Sufficient dietary diversity in men could offset the adverse effect on mortality of poor sleep while women need to make sure they are eating foods high in vitamin B6,” said Mark L. Walhqvist, lead researcher. Walhqvist pointed out that poor sleep has been linked to an increase in risk for diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease as well as mortality and that both men and women could help to offset this by eating a nutrient-rich diet.

More benefits of B6? Women with too little B6 could have more estrogen in the body, which could increase the risk of estrogen-related tumors. This B vitamin also plays a role in DNA repair, thus potentially helping to prevent genetic mutations that might lead to cancer.

Looking for ways to get more B6 in your diet?

  • Drink up! Try our delicious Banana Lassi from our International Banana Cookbook as an effective way to refuel your body.
  • Rethink bananas: Think bananas are only for breakfast? Think again. Try grilling them or spinning them into a mouthwatering nutritious dessert with the Yonana®.  You can also add them to salads…to salsa…or even make a soup!
  • Load up on other B6 sources:  Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, cauliflower and wild salmon are all good sources of B6.
  • Ditch B6 supplements: Not only are B6 pills less effective in protecting DNA, one basic study showed that having too much supplementation led to nerve damage in the arms and legs.

Published November 1, 2014