Sometimes you just want to grab something to eat when you are feeling stressed. The good news is that there are some foods that are actually good for you to eat while being under a lot of stress. Generally foods that have Omega 3, Vitamin C, and help with serotonin levels, can really make a positive during stressful times. Not only are these foods good for you but they are pretty tasty!
Foods To Reduce Stress, Anxiety, And Depression
1. Toasted Walnuts
The warm, toasted nuts airlines often serve to their first class customers may be doing more to help pampered passengers relax during flight than the cushy seats and fluffy pillows. Researchers at Penn State University found that regularly snacking on walnuts may help your body respond better to stress. Study participants who added a small daily dose of walnuts and walnut oil to their diet experienced a smaller rise in blood pressure during stressful events like giving an impromptu speech.
Scientists speculate that the heart-healthy omega-3 fats may be responsible for the nuts’ calming benefits. Walnuts are great straight out of the package, but toasting them enhances the flavor, and brings them to a whole new level. Simply arrange on a baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes in a 350-degree oven.
2. Steel-Cut Oats
A warm and cozy bowl of oatmeal makes the perfect comfort food breakfast on a chilly morning. But the soothing effects are more than psychological. Oats are a healthy, whole-grain source of carbohydrates, which stimulate the production of serotonin, a feel-good hormone that helps you relax.
All varieties of oats are great, but I particularly love steel-cut because they are minimally processed and cause a slow, steady rise in blood sugar – a definite advantage for regulating mood. Try my recipe for Slow Cooker Steel-Cut Oats. Start them the night before and they’re ready and waiting when you wake up the next morning.
3. Dark Chocolate
Could chocolate’s mood-boosting effects be driven by more than just the luxurious taste and creamy melt-in-your-mouth texture? Some scientists think so. One study found that consuming a small daily dose of dark chocolate reduced stress hormones in individuals with high anxiety levels. To take full advantage of chocolate’s health perks, choose dark varieties that are at least 70 percent cocoa.
And of course, try to keep portions in check since chocolate (even dark) is high in calories. One ounce daily (about 150 calories worth) is just the right amount to reap the tension-taming benefits without going overboard.
4. Skim Milk
Having a tense day? Enjoy a bowl of whole grain cereal mixed with skim milk – or drink a glass straight up. Turns out special proteins found in milk may help ease anxiety, and boost mood by lowering blood pressure and increasing serotonin activity in the brain. To really get your zen on, sip a mug of dark chocolate hot cocoa.
Get your caffeine fix by blending java with soymilk (the folate it contains may boost serotonin levels), unsweetened cocoa powder (cue the dopamine, as with coffee), and a ripe banana (potassium lowers blood pressure).
6. Wild Salmon
Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3s, those wonder fats that nourish your body from head to toe. It probably comes as no surprise, then, that these powerful fats also boost psychological health. Studies have found that supplementing the diet with omega-3s from fish oil decreases levels of adrenaline and other hormones associated with anxiety during stressful situations like test-taking.
To get more of these healthy fats from food, aim to eat fatty fish like wild salmon at least twice a week. For a comforting (and filling) lunch, enjoy an open-face cheesy salmon melt. Top toasted whole-grain bread with salmon salad (made with canned salmon), and a slice of reduced-fat cheese, and broil until the cheese is hot and bubbly.
Ward off a bad mood with nutty, crunchy chickpeas. A one-cup serving provides more than 70% of the daily recommended intake of folate, a B vitamin that helps regulate mood. Low blood levels of folate have been linked to higher risk for depressive symptoms, so increasing your intake of folate-rich fare like chickpeas can not hurt.
Add this feel-good food to salads, like wild salmon and chickpea salad, or purée chickpeas with olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice to make homemade hummus.
Swapping your apple or banana for a juicy, sweet grapefruit may help you chill out. This everyday citrus fruit is a top source of vitamin C, a nutrient that may help people better cope with bad nerves. Soothe away worries naturally by eating more vitamin C-rich produce. For a relaxing way to ease into your day, enjoy a fresh grapefruit with a scoop of low-fat cottage cheese for breakfast.
9. Yogurt With Berries
Try plain low-fat Greek yogurt with berries. Yogurt is a greats source of energizing protein and calcium, which your body needs to release those feel-good neurotransmitters. Fresh berries will add sweetness, and a big dose of stress-busting antioxidants, and immunity-boosting vitamin C.
10. Kale Chips
Homemade kale chips have just a few ingredients: olive oil, kale, and maybe some salt. A recent study found that people who ate olive oil daily felt more satisfied and enjoyed a bigger boost of serotonin than those eating other types of fat. As for kale, research from the Harvard School of Public Health found that people whose blood contained high levels of carotenoids (an antioxidant) were significantly more optimistic.
11. Chamomile Tea
Wipe away the day’s worries with a mug of naturally caffeine-free chamomile tea. This calming brew appears to act as a mild sedative and may help relieve muscle tension – and ease anxiety, and irritability. Take advantage of this tried-and-true herbal remedy you will get some relief.
12. Guacamole With Carrots
Creamy avocado is high in monounsaturated fat and potassium, which lowers blood pressure, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Monounsaturated fat also helps keep receptors in the brain sensitive to serotonin. With raw carrots, the simple act of crunching is a satisfying stress stopper.
13. Sweet Potatoes
They are sweet, delicious, and packed with nutrients – including optimism-boosting carotenoids and fiber (it is also low on the Glycemic Index).