10 Food that Relieve Stress

11 10 2010

NUMBER 10

Almonds

These crunchy little dudes are great stress relievers: they’re packed with vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc. B vitamins and magnesium are involved in the production of serotonin, which helps regulate mood and relieve stress. Zinc has also been shown to fight some of the negative effects of stress, while vitamin E is an antioxidant that destroys the free radicals related to stress and heart disease.

However, you should only eat a small handful at a time since almonds are high in fat. Although it is mostly healthy fat of the unsaturated variety, it could still make you pack on the pounds.

NUMBER 9

Fish

Most types of fish are replete with all-important B vitamins, particularly the renowned stress fighters B6 and B12. In fact, B12 is one of the most important vitamins involved in the synthesis of the “happy” brain chemical serotonin; a vitamin B12 deficiency can even lead to depression.

For lunch, try a tuna salad or sandwich (with light mayo). A good dinner option is grilled salmon or mackerel with a side of leafy greens and whole-grain rice; see below for more on the stress-fighting benefits of these foods.

NUMBER 8

Broccoli

Yet another food that is chock-full of stress-relieving B vitamins, broccoli has the added benefit of containing folic acid, which is also part of the B vitamin family. Folic acid helps relieve stress, anxiety, panic, and even depression.

Try broccoli as a simple accompaniment to fish or chicken, or toss it into a stir-fry along with a few other vegetables and some beef or shrimp.

NUMBER 7

Whole-grain rice or pasta

It’s a good thing carbohydrates are finally back in style now that everyone has realized those low-carb diets were a bunch of hooey; carbs boost serotonin levels and thus have a calming, soothing effect. While all carbs will give you this kick, stick to whole-grain bread, rice and pasta.

Simple carbs like white bread and pastries will only give you a momentary boost followed by a crash, and they will make you pack on the pounds. On the other hand, whole grains (complex carbs) are digested more slowly and will thus keep you feeling fuller — and conceivably happier — for a longer period of time.

A small portion of brown rice or whole-wheat pasta as a side dish for dinner should give you the boost you need.

NUMBER 6

Sushi

Aside from the benefits of fish described on the first page, the seaweed in maki (rolls) also has anxiety-fighting properties. It is packed with stress-relieving magnesium, as well as pantothenic acid and vitamin B2 (riboflavin).

Pantothenic acid is crucial, as it contributes to the health of the adrenal glands, which play a vital role in stress management. In times of stress, a deficiency in pantothenic acid can lead to feelings of anxiety and increased vulnerability to infection, illness and chronic fatigue.

So be Mr. Fancy Pants and take your girlfriend out to a swank sushi resto; this might relieve your stress in other ways, too.

NUMBER 5

Guacamole

No need to look any further if you have a craving for something creamy! Avocados just happen to be loaded with B vitamins, which your body needs to maintain healthy brain cells and nerves. Stress depletes your body of these vitamins quickly. Use whole-grain “baked” chips to scoop it up. Additionally, the crunching will keep you from gritting your teeth!

NUMBER 4

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe is an excellent source of vitamin C, which is crucial in combating stress. In fact, prolonged periods of stress deplete levels of vitamin C in the adrenal glands, so it’s important to consume foods that contain high levels of it.

NUMBER 3

Asparagus

Stalks of asparagus are tender and are a good source of the natural mood-lightener, folic acid. A fat-free yogurt or sour cream makes a good dip for these spears and will also add a hint of calcium in each delicious bite.

NUMBER 2

Fortified breakfast cereal

These days, many breakfast cereals are fortified with a slew of essential vitamins and minerals, so they can be a great one-stop source of stress-fighting B vitamins, folic acid, vitamin C, and fiber.

NUMBER 1

Blueberries

These little blue miracle workers are jam-packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, which are potent stress busters. As an added bonus, they’re low in calories, so they won’t make you blimp-like.

Blueberries are also a good source of fiber, which can help relieve the cramps and constipation that can occur in times of stress. Mix the little suckers with some cottage cheese or eat them on their own as a snack or dessert.

EAT YOURSELF ZEN

Don’t you feel calmer already? Your diet plays a crucial role in your overall well-being and specifically your level of stress. In addition to incorporating these stress-fighting foods into your diet, try to eliminate substances that may be contributing to your anxiety. These include:

  • Coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages; switch to black tea, which has one-third the caffeine content of coffee
  • Fried and fatty foods
  • Animal foods; although some can help relieve stress, don’t go overboard, as high amounts of protein increase levels of stress-causing dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
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