7 Best Stress Relieving Foods to Eat
Occasional bouts of stress are a part of life. However, chronic stress can take its toll on your health, both physically and mentally. Chronic stress should be taken seriously! Left unchecked, this can lead to heart disease and depression. Check out these stress-relieving food to manage it better.
The problem gets even worse when you couple chronic stress with stress eating on the wrong things. Fortunately, there are many stress-relieving foods that can provide natural relief to help you feel good without guilt.
Food to Eat When You’re Stressed
Eating certain foods is a convenient way to reduce the negative effects of too much stress as this causes your serotonin and dopamine levels to drop.
By stocking up on the following stress-relieving foods, you can keep yourself stress-free and healthy as you go about modern life.
Also known as nature’s multivitamin, eggs feature an impressive nutrient profile full of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants.
Whole eggs are particularly good because of the choline it contains.
Choline can only be found in significant amounts in a select number of foods. This nutrient plays an important role in brain health and may protect against stress.
Some animal studies have noted that choline may also aid the stress response and improve mood too.
The family of shellfish includes mussels, clams, and oysters. This stress-relieving food is high in amino acids like taurine, an amino acid that may have mood-boosting properties.
Taurine and other amino acids are important neurotransmitters. They aid the development of the central nervous system, maintain the structural integrity of the membrane, and regulate homeostasis, among many other functions.
Taurin is needed to produce dopamine, an essential component to regulate your stress response. In fact, studies point to taurine as a possible antidepressant.
Shellfish also provides you with vitamin B12, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium. It is relevant to note that a Japanese study found that low intakes of zinc, copper, and manganese have associations with depression and anxiety symptoms.
This herb is packed with antioxidants which are compounds that neutralize free radicals and protect against oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is linked to depression and anxiety. Studies suggest that an antioxidant-rich diet may help prevent symptoms of these mental health disorders. Antioxidants may also reduce inflammations which can be particularly high in people who experience chronic stress.
Parsley is a stress-relieving food that comes packed with carotenoids, flavonoids, and volatile oils. These compounds all have powerful antioxidant properties.
Broccolis are cruciferous vegetables as stress-relieving food. Did you know that eating broccoli may also lower your risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and depression too?
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are excellent sources of essential nutrients like magnesium, vitamin C, and folate. These nutrients can combat symptoms of depression.
Broccoli also has high levels of sulforaphane, a sulfur compound that has neuroprotective properties that add to its calming and antidepressant effects.
Furthermore, 1 cup or about 184 grams of cooked broccoli contains over 20% of the DV for vitamin B6. When you eat this stress relieving food, you get higher intakes of vitamin B6 for lower risks of anxiety and depression in women.
Chickpeas are lesser-known stress relieving food. Also known as garbanzos, this member of the legume family contains essential nutrients like magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, zinc, selenium, manganese, and copper.
Chickpeas are also rich in L-tryptophan, a critical amino acid for increased serotonin levels, and produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters. A diet rich in plant proteins like chickpeas may improve brain health and mental performance.
A study of 9,000 people who followed a Mediterranean diet rich in plant foods like legumes reported better mood and less stress. This was in comparison to their Western counterparts who have a diet rich in processed foods.
Herbal treatments that have been in use since ancient times are proving to be relevant as stress-relieving foods even today.
One excellent example of this is chamomile tea which has always been a preferred natural stress reducer.
Chamomile tea and extract appear to promote restful sleep and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
In a study of 45 people who have anxiety, the participants demonstrated that just 1.5 grams of chamomile extract improved anxiety symptoms and reduced levels of cortisol in their saliva.
Whole, nutrient-rich carb sources like sweet potatoes may be effective stress relieving food. Studies show this kind of carbohydrates can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Cortisol is normally tightly regulated by the body. However, chronic stress may lead to cortisol dysfunction that causes pain and inflammations, among other adverse effects.
A study happened over an 8-week span with obese overweight women. It found that participants who ate a diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense carbs had significantly lower levels of salivary cortisol compared to those who had a diet heavy in refined carbs common in standard American diets.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent carb choice. This stress-relieving food contains nutrients used in a proper stress response, such as vitamin C and potassium.
What Foods are Bad for Stress?
Of course, if certain foods can relieve stress, it follows that some others can actually make it worse. Here are some of the worst foods for stress relief.
Anything with refined sugar is effective at giving a quick boost. However, its biggest downside is the crash that follows it which is caused by the effect of sugar on blood sugar levels.
Besides, a recent focus on the detrimental effects of refined sugar has found links between refined sugar intake to conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
The body can break down simple carbohydrates quickly to be used as energy. Simple carbohydrates can be naturally found in fruits, milk, and other milk products but they can also be found in processed goods in the form of candy, table sugar, syrups, and soft drinks.
Simple or “white” carbs include sugars and refined grains that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients. Popular examples of this include white bread, white flour, pizza dough, pasta, white rice, pastries, sweet desserts, and most breakfast cereals.
As with sugar, simple carbohydrates can cause spikes in your blood sugar levels followed by a crash and cravings for more.
It is much healthier to eat slow-releasing complex carbs as stress relieving food. Some simple but effective examples include grain crackers, wholemeal toast, or even hummus with veggie sticks which are all better choices compared to a bag of potato chips.
The effects of having too much coffee are well-known. From jitters to heart palpitations to trouble sleeping, caffeine can make you feel even worse when your stress levels are already high.
You can instead try chicory tea or fruit-infused water instead of caffeinated drinks when you are stressed out.
Modern life is filled with many stressors and the availability of quick-fix foods can make you feel worse. By choosing stress-relieving foods instead of the heavily processed options, you can help ensure a proper stress response that will not damage your long term health.
Pick natural and nutrient-rich foods instead of the usual, sugary snacks. Not only will this help maintain good physical health but your mental health will benefit too.