1 February 2012
Four Stress-Relieving Foods
Posted by Wellness under: Nutrition .
We tend to think of stress as a mental thing, thinking that if we manage to stop thinking about what stresses us out, the stress itself will go away. But for many people, it’s not as clear-cut as that. Stress tends to spill over from mental to physical, manifesting in a variety of tangible ways from weight gain and wrinkles to clinical depression and an increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
The good news is that stress is more easily solved than we think, sometimes even literally as easy as peanuts. Here are some simple but surprisingly potent foods that can help put an end to the stress cycle.
Nuts: Peanuts, walnuts, cashews–these are all great for lowering stress levels, and not just because chomping on them is rhythmically relaxing. Many nuts are high in zinc, magnesium, and B-vitamins, all of which help regulate mood and stimulate the production of serotonin (a brain chemical known to relieve stress). They’re also said to improve memory and concentration, although this has yet to be proven. Almonds are especially effective–pop a few just before a meeting and you’ll be good to go.
Fish: Most seafood is high in B-vitamins, but fish is the most reliable source. It’s particularly high in B6 and B12, the most important factors in serotonin production. As a welcome perk, some fish are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Get your daily dose by packing a tuna sandwich for lunch or whipping up some grilled salmon for dinner, with some fresh vegetables on the side to balance things out.
Whole grains: If you’ve cut down on carbs for weight loss, you might be paying for it in other ways. Low-carb diets are shown to contribute to depression, as carbohydrates are one of the most effective serotonin boosters. Choose whole-grain over white varieties; they’re more filling and have undergone less processing, which means they’ve kept most of their nutritional value. Make sure to watch your portions as too much carbs in a short period can make you drowsy for the rest of the day.
Dark green vegetables: You might have heard about dark greens in talks about vegetarian health–they’re an important source of nutrition for those who have given up read meat. Vegetarian or not, you can benefit from the occasional side of broccoli or kale: they’re high in folic acid, which has been proven effective against depression, panic, anxiety, and other things that can arise from stress.
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