Rather than reaching for candy or other unhealthy foods when feeling stressed, you should go for healthy foods that will not just boost your health but also help ease stress. When one feels stressed, his/her body consumes those vitamins and minerals that are required to help him or her cope with the stress in the first place.
According to the American Psychological Association, 40% of Americans were reported eating the wrong foods or overeating as a way of dealing with their anxiety. So, the next time you feel stressed, try one of these comfort foods to help ease stress:
Avocado and Banana
Both avocados and bananas are rich in potassium and antioxidants that help keep blood pressure low, hence relieve stress. Next time when you are feeling depressed, open your fridge and grab an avocado or banana to eat.
Green Leafy Veggies
Green leafy veggies have several benefits, and they are capable of easing your stress as well. You can go for spinach, kale, collard greens, broccoli rabe, Swiss chard, or mustard greens. Green leafy veggies are rich in folate that also help your body produce neurotransmitters, regulating mood.
Swiss chard is also a green leafy vegetable that helps balance the body’s stress hormone (known as cortisol) because of the magnesium it contains.
Dark chocolate doesn’t just satisfy your taste buds but can also help relieve stress at the molecular level. It contains cocoa that can improve cognitive function and regulate mood. Dark chocolate is recommended for individuals who suffer from high levels of anxiety.
Oatmeal is also a comfort food that most people eat at breakfast. It can reduce the levels of stress hormones that can result in a boost in serotonin (a neurotransmitter) that stimulates a feeling of calmness.
Salmon is a treat to taste buds, and it can also counteract the effects of the stress hormone, cortisol – this is the reason why salmon is considered as one of the best comfort foods to reduce stress. It contains anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids that may diminish the effects of stress hormones.
Several studies since the 1960s indicate that people who suffer from depression and anxiety have an increased incident of folate deficiency. Asparagus is the vegetable that contains a considerable amount of mood-boosting nutrient. One cup of asparagus can provide two-thirds of your daily recommended foliate value.
Turkey contains a key ingredient, L-tryptophan, an amino acid that your body converts into serotonin. It plays a vital role in regulating your mood. Most foods that contain protein also have L-tryptophan (with an exception of gelatin). However, turkey contains a significant amount.
You can prepare a turkey and cucumber sandwich using a whole-grain bread, which makes a healthy, stress-relieving meal.
Whole-grain snacks like pretzels or crackers do not just make you feel fuller (due to fiber) but also provide you with an energy boost (due to carbs) and trigger the brain to produce serotonin. So, the next time you are feeling stressed and are near to a vending machine, opt for whole-wheat pretzels!
Mint works great in reducing stress and inducing calmness in your body. Peppermint oil, especially, has relaxation-promoting properties and analgesic and aesthesis effects that make you feel relaxed. However, individuals having gastrointestinal reflux, kidney stones or hiatal hernia, should consult their physician before using peppermint oil therapy.
Kimchi is a brewed vegetable dish made with napa cabbage and daikon, radish. Fermented foods, such as kimchi, are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and beneficial bacteria are known as probiotics. A study also proves that fermented foods help in reducing stress and anxiety.
In one study of 710 young adults, those who ate fermented foods more frequently reported fewer symptoms of social anxiety. Many other studies have found that probiotic supplements and probiotic-rich like kimchi are beneficial to mental health. This is most likely because of their interactions with your gut bacteria, which directly impact your mood.
Artichoke is a high-fiber food that is also incredibly high in prebiotics, a fiber suitable for feeding good bacteria in your gut. Prebiotics such as fructooligosaccharides or FNS, abundant in artichokes, has been shown in animal studies to help reduce stress levels.
Furthermore, one study found that people who consumed five or more grams of these prebiotics per day had less anxiety and depression and that high-quality, prebiotic-rich diets may lower your risk of stress. Artichokes are also high in potassium, magnesium, and vitamins C and K, which are important for a healthy stress response.
Organs like the liver, heart, and kidneys of cows, chickens etc., are excellent sources of vitamins B12, B6, riboflavin, and folate – which are all necessary for stress control. For instance, B vitamins are essential for producing neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin that help in regulating mood.
Stress can be reduced by taking B vitamins or eating foods like organ meats. An analysis of a research proved that B vitamin supplements significantly reduce anxiety and improve mood.
Eggs are often known as natural multivitamins due to their impressive nutrient profile. They are high in vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants, all required for a healthy stress response. Moreover, eggs are incredibly high in choline, a nutrient found in high concentrations in only a few foods.
Choline is beneficial to brain health and prevents stress. According to research, choline helps with stress response and mood enhancement.
Seafood, specifically shellfish, like mussels, clams, oysters etc., are high in amino acids like taurine, which has been researched for its potential mood-boosting properties. Taurine and other amino acids are essential for producing neurotransmitters like dopamine, which regulate stress response.
Research proves that taurine has antidepressant properties. Shellfish are also high in vitamin B12, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium, which may help in mood enhancement.
Parsley is a healthy herb high in antioxidants, compounds that neutralize the unstable molecules known as free radicals and prevent oxidative stress. The majority of the illnesses, such as mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety, are linked to oxidative stress. According to research, eating a diet high in parsley and other antioxidants may help prevent stress and anxiety.
Okra is another green leafy vegetable that contains folate (a B vitamin) – it can produce dopamine, a get-happy hormone in your body. This hormone has a calming effect on your brain as it induces a feeling of pleasure.
Due to its several benefits, Okra is considered as one of the best comfort foods that can reduce stress.
Who doesn’t love berries? Berries contain an abundant amount of antioxidants that can boost your health and provide several benefits. When we feel stressed, our bodies need vitamin C to help protect and repair our cells; blueberries have those properties to give your body what it wants. The number of antioxidants and vitamin C blueberries contain can significantly relieve anxiety.
Studies have also confirmed that oral vitamin C supplements are useful for both reduction and prevention of anxiety.
Munching on crunchy foods such as carrots can help beat stress. If you don’t like carrots, you can go for nutrient-rich celery or any other crunchy veggie that you like the most.
Who doesn’t crave for starches like potatoes when he/she is stressed? We shouldn’t eat food with high calories, but as we are stressed, we are constantly losing energy, and the body needs to replenish that energy. This is why we crave for fatty or sweet foods when depressed. You can go for sweet potatoes for a quick stress fix.
One ounce of almonds (10-12 nuts) contains 75mg of magnesium, which makes 19 percent of your daily recommended value. Researchers found out that magnesium can be an effective treatment for stress-related problems. A good amount of magnesium is also present in foods such as avocado, seeds, and legumes.
Kiwifruit tastes great and provides amazing benefits to our bodies. It is packed with tryptophan that turns into serotonin, calming your nerves and stabilizing your mood. Stress can also keep us awake, and consuming kiwifruit at night on a regular basis can help us sleep faster, and a get a good night’s sleep.
Sunflower seeds contain a considerable amount of vitamin B5 that can support adrenal gland function, which is quite critical when it comes to stress management. You can eat a handful of sunflower seeds whenever you are feeling a bit stressed.
Citrus fruits, including oranges, contain a good amount of myo-inositol (a naturally occurring form of B vitamin), which is also found in the brain and nervous system. Our muscle, cell membrane and nerve function rely on myo-inositol that can support emotional health and make your mood positive.
These foods don’t just help relieve stress, but also have several health benefits. You can try one or all the foods from this list and see which one works for you when you are feeling stressed. You can also enhance your mood and relieve stress using essential oils in your home and office. Eat healthy, stay happy!