10 foods that fight stress
After a stressful day (week, month), we often reach for foods that make us feel cozy and loved, as if we’ve been wrapped in a just-from-the-dryer blanket. But before you reach for mashed potatoes, mac and cheese or tuna melts to minimize stress, give these 10 foods—proven stress busters—a try:
1. Acai berries. Packed with phytonutrients and mood enhancing properties, these super berries also help keep blood sugar levels even.
2. Blueberries. The antioxidants in blueberries counteracts the production of cortisol, a hormone that links stress to stubborn belly fat.
3. Brown rice. B vitamins are extremely important for maintaining cells, tissues and organs. They also work as natural mood stabilizers. Get enough B vitamins, which are abundant in brown rice, and you’ll be able to fight off stress and associated mood disorders.
4. Cocoa. The main ingredient in chocolate, cocoa is high in flavonoids, which have tons of relaxation properties. Cocoa also contains phenethylamine, a chemical that enhances mood. Research shows chocolate, in moderation, does make you feel better. So add cocoa powder to brownies, cookies and smoothies. Or grab a dark chocolate bar—the darker the chocolate, the better (look for bars with at least 70 percent cacao). Do it for science!
5. Maca. A Peruvian herb with a reputation for being an aphrodisiac, maca is a powder that contains a phytonutrient shown to help ward off anxiety and depression. Mix a half-teaspoon of maca powder into a smoothie.
6. Oranges. The vitamin C in oranges lowers cortisol levels. Experiment with all the varieties—clementines, mineolas, tangelos—for a quick burst of vitamin C.
7. Salmon. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps keep cortisol and adrenaline from spiking when you’re stressed. Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3s. Experts suggest you eat 3 to 4 ounces at least three times a week.
8. Spinach. High in magnesium, this dark, leafy green helps reduce stress hormones in the body and stabilize mood. One cup of spinach a day can up your calm quotient.
9. Sunflower seeds. Generous levels of folate—also crucial for help fighting birth defects—in sunflower seeds help your body produce the feel-good brain chemical dopamine.
10. Walnuts. Studies show walnuts can keep anxiety levels in check. You don’t need much. An ounce a day should do the trick.