During times of stress, we tend to reach for comfort foods such as fast food, snacks and sugary foods only to trick us into thinking we feel better. However, does our health really benefit from eating these foods? Whilst satisfying yourself with palatable (but unhealthy) foods may provide relief, it can take a toll on your health. (Obesity, diabetes… scary)
Eating the right foods can fight stress and is healthy for you. Here are some amazing foods you can reach for when you’re starting to feel stressed:
Sometimes we crave for a high-fat treat when we’re stressed. Avocados are a good choice because they have good fats. The monounsaturated fats as well as potassium in avocados help lower blood pressure. Half an avocado has more potassium than a medium-sized banana. Avocados are also rich in B vitamins, such as B6 and folate, which naturally lower your stress levels fast.
Oranges and other citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, known to lower blood pressure and stress hormone cortisol. Give yourself a dose of vitamin C by eating a whole orange or drinking a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice (without added sugar, of course).
Berries such as blueberries and strawberries help you keep sharp by protecting blood vessels in the brain from inflammation. These fruits contain anthocyanins that protect the cells from the damaging free radicals. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, which can keep cortisol levels in check.
Green tea contains theanine, which increases the brain’s output of alpha waves that promotes relaxation and reduces the output of beta waves that promotes tension. According to a 2009 study, drinking five cups of the tea each day could reduce stress by 20%.
If you crave chocolate when you’re stressed, you don’t have to deprive yourself. Research shows that people who ate the equivalent to an average-sized candy bar daily for two weeks had lower stress hormones. When looking for a dark chocolate, choose the one with at least 70% cocoa. Be sure to control your proportions though.
Salmon and other fish containing omega-3 fatty acids can boost serotonin levels and limit the production of anxiety hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. A study found that subjects who took omega-3 supplements had a 20% reduction in anxiety compared to the group given placebo pills. A 3-ounce serving of cooked wild salmon can has more than 2,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.
Green leafy vegetables like spinach contain folate, which produces dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical, helping you keep calm. Dark leafy greens are rich in magnesium, which is known as a major stress fighter, helping to relax muscle fibers.
Eating healthy food and making it a conscious choice can actually give some real stress relief. Remember that foods that can ease your stress don’t always come in the form of cakes, ice creams and potato chips. There are a lot of healthier foods out there that give much better benefits to your health.