When we say ‘eat to reduce stress’ we are not talking about ‘comfort eating’ which many people resort to during hard times. The usual foods consumed with this type of eating tend to be unhealthy and will not help with your overall stress levels. However, a healthy diet can counter the impacts of stress by boosting your immune system and lowering blood pressure. Let’s take a look at some foods known for their stress-reducing qualities…
1. Oranges and other fruits high in Vitamin C
Studies have shown that Vitamin C can help to reduce stress levels and, following a stressful situation return cortisol and blood pressure to normal levels. Also try blueberries and papayas which not only contain Vitamin C, but Vitamin A and folate also.
Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids which are known to protect against heart disease. Omega-3’s also help to keep the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline from spiking.
3. Foods rich in Vitamin B
Vitamin B has a calming effect on the body, helping to reduce stress and promote feelings of well-being. Foods high in Vitamin B include; lentils, chickpeas, quinoa and broccoli. The folate that is also found in broccoli is known for reducing feelings of anxiety and depression.
4. Nuts & seeds packed with Vitamins B & E
Vitamins B and E help to boost the immune system, feelings of well-being and reduce blood pressure. Try eating walnuts, sunflower seeds, pistachios or almonds for a healthy boost.
5. Foods high in magnesium
Magnesium deficiency can cause feelings of fatigue as well as migraine headaches. For a magnesium boost, try eating sushi (the seaweed component is high in magnesium) or spinach, of which 1 cup will provide 40% of you daily magnesium needs.
Avocados are packed with mono-unsaturated fats and potassium which are known to help lower blood pressure. Consuming enough daily potassium is recommended by heart health organizations across the world – bananas are another source of potassium, although avocados contain more.
Turkey contains the amino acid L tryptophan which triggers the release of seratonin by the the brain. Seratonin is a ‘feel good’ chemical which has a relaxing and calming effect on the body.
8. Basil and Arugula
Add some great flavor to your food with the added bonus of stress reduction! These herbs are a great source of folate which will help to enhance your mood.
If you are undergoing high levels of stress, do not underestimate the effects of diet on your overall stress levels. Note what it is that you tend to gravitate toward if you are feeling stressed; is it serving your body or is it something that is nutritionally poor and possibly contributing to stress and poor health in the end? Try the foods above and see if you can make a difference!