Foods That Fight Stress

Just like there are foods that make you feel bad, what if I told you there are also foods that make you feel good…and may even relieve stress?

 

Whenever you’re having a really bad, stressful day do you every just want to go home and stuff your face with some junk? Do you ever succumb to that desire and end up feeling worse after? Well, there’s a reason for that!

The reason we seek out foods we consider to be ‘junk’ when we’re stressed is because they are high in fat, sugars, and salt—all things that give you an immediate feel-good-high, but it doesn’t last long. Instead, we end up crashing and not only remain stressed, but now feel guilty on top of it. It doesn’t sound like much of a solution, does it?

However, just like there are foods that make you feel bad, what if I told you there are also foods that make you feel good…and may even relieve stress?

Kale Chips

Kale chips made with olive oil and a little sea salt and pepper to taste is a much healthier alternative to regular chips for a few reasons. Most chips are drenched in trans-fats, which not only makes you feel crummy, but can also pose a danger to your health. On the contrary, olive oil is a type of fat that has been shown to release the feel-good hormone serotonin and leave you more satisfied than other oils. In addition, the Harvard School of Public Health has researched kale and they concluded that because of kale’s high antioxidant content, it has been shown to leave people more optimistic after eating it.

Tea

Tea (particularly green tea) contains an amino acid called L-Theanine that has been shown to reduce stress without drowsiness. Drinking unsweetened green tea is a much better stress-relieving option compared to sugary sodas that cause a hampering crash.

Avocado

Avocados are high in potassium and monounsaturated fats. Potassium is known to lower blood pressure, while monounsaturated fats may sensitize brain receptors to the hormone serotonin. My favorite way to eat avocado is to mash it up into a guacamole, mix in some fresh salsa, and slather it onto a slice (or two) of whole grain toast. Yum!!

Curry

Researchers have found that curry may actually protect parts of your brain from other stress induced brain activity, like a shield or a defense. How cool is that?! Using curry is super easy. You can literally sprinkle it on anything, but I love to make a vegetable curry stir-fry over rice noodles. I just add a little coconut milk, curry, and whatever other spices I feel like and I have myself a great, stress-free meal!

Nuts and Seeds

Common ingredients in nuts and seeds include selenium, Omega-3, and tryptophan (in addition to their high antioxidant and unsaturated fatty acid content). Tryptophan (mostly in pumpkin seeds) assists the brain in making serotonin, Omega-3’s (walnuts) have been shown to possibly lower depression, and selenium (cashews, almonds) is linked to elevated moods.

Try getting your nuts and seeds whole, raw, and unsalted for optimal benefits. Sugary, processed, fake (as I like to call them) granola bars don’t make the cut. They are glorified candy bars, I assure you. Don’t get me wrong there are some decent ones out there but you’re better off just eating the nuts on their own 🙂

Chocolate Mocha “Milk”

Chocolate milk may taste good, but in reality it’s not benefitting you in the slightest (and may actually harm you, in my opinion). But, I have come up with a deliciously wonderful alternative! All it is is unsweetened soy milk, unsweetened coco powder, and black coffee (optional) mixed together for chocolaty, mood-boosting goodness!

The folate in the soy milk may increase serotonin levels while coffee and coco powder are known to stimulate the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.

 

If you find that the food you’re eating isn’t making you feel good, and your stress levels seem to always be elevated, these suggestions are worth a try! Not only are they healthy foods in general, there is a good amount of science backing up their mood-boosting, stress-relieving potential.

How do you plan on adding these foods to your diet to fight that troublesome stress?

Lindsay Valentine
Lindsay Valentine is a graduate from Stetson University and received a degree in Integrative Health Science. She is currently a full time intern at Tara Gidus Nutrition and plans to go back to school in the fall to become a Registered Dietitian. In Lindsay's free time she enjoys finding new ways to spice up her vegan lifestyle and has a love for animals, warm weather, and laughter.

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