Instead of reaching for traditional comfort foods when you feel totally overwhelmed, what if you filled your plate with stress-fighting foods?
These healthy eats may not have the draw of bubbling mac ‘n cheese, but they’ll deliver much better results, especially over the long-term. Think of a calming effect that delivers focus and energy rather than the need for a nap.
A quick refresher on the link between stress and diet: Stress increases the level of the hormone cortisol in our bodies, which in turn makes our bodies crave carbohydrates and store fat around the midsection. So, the best plan is to prevent stress, by practicing meditation, getting enough sleep, exercising, and, yes, eating foods that are linked to mood-boosting, calming benefits.
Add these yummy choices to your regular diet, now.
9 Delicious Stress-Fighting Foods
Oatmeal (especially made with steel-cut oats) is a source of complex carbs, which help increase the production of serotonin, a chemical known for its amazing mood-boosting and -stabilizing powers.
Greens like spinach and kale are filled with folic acid, a nutrient that helps maintain normal levels of serotonin (as if you needed another reason to eat them!).
Dark chocolate (in its super dark, most natural state) has been associated with higher levels of serotonin. It also contains magnesium, which may have an effect on reducing anxiety.
Red, green, and chili peppers are all high in vitamin C, which has been shown to lower levels of cortisol in the body and reduce the physical and psychological effects of stress. If you hate peppers, nosh on citrus fruits instead.
Some studies have shown celery is linked to lower blood pressure (although the evidence is not conclusive). Still, the satisfying crunch is a visceral stress reliever, no matter what.
Cashews are a great source of zinc, a mineral that plays a major role in managing the body and brain’s responses to stress.
Healthy fats are great for your mind, and grass-fed beef is filled with CLA, a particularly talented brain-boosting fat, along with other nutrients already mentioned, like vitamin C and zinc.
Speaking of fat…the healthy fats in avocado promote blood flow to the brain, and the popular fruit is also linked to lower blood pressure.
A nut you haven’t cracked in a while? Some research has shown pistachios may help maintain levels of essential fatty acids and prevent inflammation (a stress reaction!) in the brain.