Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Foods That Reduce Stress


If you’re like me, you get hungry when you’re stressed out. And with how much I’ve let stress pile on in the past, it’s quite literally a miracle that the pounds didn’t also pound on. I go for the chocolate, particularly hot chocolate, cookies, and sugary coffee drinks when I feel the need to relax a little. And while some studies have shown that some dark chocolate can be good for you, I don’t think they meant in the amount I want to consume it in.

Sugary foods can increase stress levels.
Lots of people go for sugary snacks when stressed, myself included.
Image from cookingclassy.com
My main concern isn’t the chocolate itself, anyhow. It’s the sugar that it comes loaded with—and which can actually exacerbate stress, gives me headaches, and is overall a bad thing to have too much of. In fact, many “fast,” “easy,” and “convenient” foods that people turn to when eating out of stress are incredibly unhealthy, the eating of which can contribute to stress levels.

Since I like to munch on something when I’m stressed or working a lot, I try to surround myself with healthy snacks. And I was super excited when I found this list of foods that can actually help reduce stress levels. Who knew I’d be able to use my snacking habit to combat stress in a healthy way? Consider eating these foods when you’re stressed (or when you want to prevent stress):

The Vitamin C in oranges could help reduce stress.
The Vitamin C in oranges could help reduce stress.
Image: Shutterstock
Oranges—Vitamin C can reduce stress and regulate blood pressure and cortisol levels, which often rise when you’re stressed. It also keeps your immune system healthy so you don’t get sick, something I have a tendency to do when stressed.

Sweet Potatoes—Besides being one of my favorite foods ever, sweet potatoes make me feel like I’m eating sweets and carbs when really I’m packing my body with vitamins, betacarotene, and fiber.

Dried Apricots—These delicious little guys are full of magnesium, a natural muscle relaxer and stress-reducer (just don’t eat too many, since they’re pretty sugary).

Almonds, Pistachios & Walnuts—Almonds have high levels of B and E vitamins, and pistachios and Walnuts have been found to reduce blood pressure.

Turkey—L-tryptophan, an amino acid, is found in turkey. It tells the body to release serotonin, which is a natural mood booster and relaxer.

Green vegetables are full of stress-reducing vitamins.
Green vegetables are full of stress-reducing vitamins.
Image: Shutterstock
Spinach—Like apricots, spinach is packed with magnesium. If you don’t get enough magnesium, it can trigger migraines and fatigue, both bound to increase stress levels. So eat up!

Salmon—I was never a huge fish fan, but I do like Salmon. That’s a good thing, since it’s full of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight heart disease and regulate stress hormones, cortisol, and adrenaline.

Avocados—Avocados are a great source of monosaturated fats and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. It can also prevent symptoms of stress like muscle twitches and spasms.

Green Vegetables—Any dark green vegetable, such as spinach, broccoli, kale, and beans, is full of vitamins. When we get stressed out, our bodies are sapped of vitamins and energy. Remembering to eat healthy greens when stressed can go miles in keeping stress under control.
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