Mole sauce is a beloved staple in Mexican cuisine, known for its rich and complex flavors. But have you ever wondered if this high-calorie sauce could be making you feel sleepy after a meal?
Some people believe that the combination of ingredients in mole sauce, including chocolate and spices, can have a sedative effect on the body. In this article, we’ll explore the science behind this claim and whether or not there’s any truth to it.
So grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive into the world of mole sauce and sleepiness.
Does Mole Sauce Make You Sleepy?
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that mole sauce specifically makes you feel sleepy. However, some of the ingredients in mole sauce, such as chocolate and spices, have been known to have a calming effect on the body.
Chocolate contains a compound called tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps the body produce serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, and sleep. When serotonin levels are high, it can make you feel relaxed and sleepy.
Spices like cumin, cinnamon, and anise also have a calming effect on the body. They contain compounds that can help reduce stress and anxiety, which can lead to better sleep.
However, it’s important to note that the amount of these ingredients in mole sauce is relatively small compared to other foods that contain them. So while they may contribute to a feeling of relaxation after a meal, they are unlikely to cause drowsiness on their own.
What Is Mole Sauce?
Mole sauce is a traditional sauce and marinade used in Mexican cuisine. The word “mole” comes from the Nahuatl word “molli,” which simply means sauce. Mole is a complex mixture of ingredients that can sometimes contain up to 100 different components. The sauce typically contains fruits, nuts, chili peppers, and spices like black pepper, cinnamon, or cumin. Chocolate is also a common ingredient in mole sauce, but its flavor should never dominate.
To prepare mole sauce, the ingredients are ground together into a powder or paste that creates a seamless layering of complex flavors. The sauce doesn’t taste like chocolate, chili, garlic, or cinnamon individually, but rather like a unique and delicious blend of all these flavors. A properly done mole takes hours or even days to prepare, with each ingredient prepped in different ways.
There are many different types of mole in Mexico, including mole poblano and mole negro. Each type of mole has its own unique blend of ingredients and flavors. Despite the diversity of moles that exist, most include nuts or seeds, chili peppers, dried spices, and either fresh or dried fruit. The whole mixture usually gets ground or pureed together, yielding a thick yet pourable sauce.
While there is no scientific evidence to suggest that mole sauce specifically makes you feel sleepy, some of the ingredients in mole sauce have been known to have a calming effect on the body. Chocolate contains tryptophan which helps the body produce serotonin, while spices like cumin and cinnamon can help reduce stress and anxiety.
The Ingredients In Mole Sauce
Mole sauce is a complex blend of various ingredients, each contributing to its unique flavor profile. While the specific ingredients can vary depending on the type of mole sauce being made, there are some common elements that are typically included.
Chiles are a key component of mole sauce, with at least two different types used in most recipes. These chiles provide the signature spicy and smoky flavors that are characteristic of mole sauce. Additionally, sour ingredients like tomatoes or tomatillos are used to balance out the heat of the chiles.
Sweetness is also an important element of mole sauce, often coming from dried fruits or sugar. This sweetness helps to counterbalance the spiciness and adds a depth of flavor to the sauce.
A variety of spices are used in mole sauce, including warm spices like cinnamon and anise as well as savory spices like cumin and coriander. These spices contribute to the complex flavor profile of mole sauce and can also have a calming effect on the body.
Finally, thickeners like bread, nuts, or seeds are added to give mole sauce its characteristic thickness and velvety texture. These ingredients also add richness and depth to the sauce.
The Science Behind Sleepiness
Sleepiness is a complex phenomenon that is influenced by a variety of factors, including the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain and follows a 24-hour rhythm, with levels at their highest in the evening and lowest in the morning.
For teenagers, melatonin is produced about three hours later in the 24-hour sleep cycle than in children or adults. This can make it harder for them to wake up early, as they may still be producing melatonin when they need to be alert and awake. Teenagers typically require nine hours of sleep per night, but due to late bedtimes and early school start times, they often only get seven hours of sleep per night. This lack of sleep can lead to feelings of drowsiness and difficulty paying attention in class.
Exposure to artificial light at night, such as from TVs, computers, and phones, can also interfere with the body’s production of melatonin. This can make it harder to fall asleep at a reasonable time and contribute to feelings of sleepiness during the day.
On the other hand, getting enough restorative sleep has numerous benefits for overall health and well-being. During deep sleep, metabolic processes are activated that allow the body to repair and rejuvenate cells. The brain also undergoes a cleansing process that helps combat diseases like Alzheimer’s. Sleep also regulates hormones and neurotransmitters that affect appetite, metabolism, stress levels, and mood.
While mole sauce itself may not specifically make you feel sleepy, some of its ingredients may have a calming effect on the body. However, it’s important to prioritize getting enough quality sleep each night for optimal health and functioning.
Chocolate And Sleep
Chocolate is a popular ingredient in mole sauce, and it contains several compounds that can affect sleep. One of these compounds is caffeine, which is known to stimulate the central nervous system and make us more alert. However, the amount of caffeine in chocolate is relatively small compared to other caffeinated beverages like coffee.
Another compound found in chocolate is theobromine, which acts as a muscle relaxant and can help regulate cardiovascular activities. Unlike caffeine, there is no evidence that theobromine will keep you awake. In fact, some studies have suggested that it can help people sleep.
Chocolate also contains tryptophan, which stimulates the production of serotonin and melatonin. These neurotransmitters are believed to help regulate sleep patterns and improve sleep quality. However, the amount of tryptophan in chocolate varies depending on the type of chocolate and how it’s processed.
Spices And Sleep
Spices have been used for centuries across cultures for their health benefits, including aiding digestion, lowering inflammation, and even promoting better sleep. While some spices can indirectly affect sleep patterns by causing indigestion and reflux, others have been found to promote sleep.
Nutmeg, turmeric, and garlic are spices that have been shown to promote sleep. Nutmeg contains a compound called myristicin, which has sedative properties that can help induce sleep. Turmeric contains curcumin, which has been found to improve overall sleep quality. Garlic contains allicin, a compound that can help relax the body and promote better sleep.
Anecdotally, herbs such as peppermint, parsley, dill, sage, and basil are also thought to promote sleep and reduce insomnia. These herbs contain compounds that can help reduce stress and anxiety, which can lead to better sleep.
In addition to their potential sleep-promoting effects, spices also contain high levels of antioxidants, adding to their powerful nutritional punch. It’s important to note that heavily spiced foods may be high in protein or fat, both of which require more time for digestion and can disrupt the sleeping process. However, adding spices in fresh and dried forms to whole foods such as bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, turkey, fish, low-fat milk and yogurt can provide a safe way to enjoy their potential “sleep-aid” benefits.
Other Factors That Affect Sleepiness
There are several factors that can affect how sleepy you feel after eating mole sauce or any other food. One of the most important factors is the timing of your meal. Eating a heavy meal too close to bedtime can make it harder for you to fall asleep. This is because your body is still digesting the food and your metabolism is still active, which can keep you feeling alert and awake.
Another factor that can affect sleepiness is the amount of food you eat. Eating a large meal can cause your blood sugar levels to spike, which can make you feel more awake and alert. On the other hand, eating a small meal or snack before bed can help regulate your blood sugar levels and promote better sleep.
The type of food you eat can also affect how sleepy you feel. Foods that are high in fat and protein, such as meat and cheese, can take longer to digest and may make you feel more alert. On the other hand, foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as pasta and bread, can help promote sleepiness.
Finally, your individual metabolism and digestive system can also play a role in how sleepy you feel after eating mole sauce or any other food. Some people may be more sensitive to certain ingredients or spices than others, which can affect their level of drowsiness.