When stewing with stress, it’s hard to believe that anything will make you feel more comforted than a pound of chocolates, a family-size pizza and/or a tub of Half Baked ice cream.
Unfortunately, the high from high-fat, calorie-chocked and sugary foods doesn’t last long and the aftermath can wreak havoc on your mood, health and waistline. Luckily, Mother Nature can hook you up and lower your stress.
We've indentified six stress-busting food superheroes, all designed to strengthen your immune system, regulate stress hormones, lower blood pressure and keep junk food at bay.
Stressed out? Try reaching for:
1. Bananas. This fruit is packed with vitamin B, a heavy hitter when it comes to regulating stress. By keeping nerves and brain cells healthy, this nutrient keeps blood pressure and stress hormones in check during high-tension situations that trigger a fight-or-flight response.
2. Leafy greens. Chock full of calcium and magnesium, which studies show relax muscle fibers, these super vegetables can have relaxing, calming effects on the body. If you still hating eating your veggies, um, you can grow up, or look to whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes (like beans), which are also great sources of the nutrient. Shoot to have a big salad loaded with magnesium powerhouses for dinner and you’ll likely sleep better that night.
3. Fatty fish. Oily fish like mackerel, salmon and sardines are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids, which boost happy brain chemicals like serotonin and regulate stress hormones like cortisol. You only need to have two or three servings per week, plus daily supplements if your doctor advises.
4. Nuts. Nutrient-dense nuts are amazing stress fighters thanks to high levels of magnesium, zinc, vitamins B and E and healthy oils. Almonds (raw, roasted or in butter) boost the immune system thanks to a kick of vitamin B, while other varieties like almonds, pistachios and pecans have been shown to reduce blood pressure, boost energy and lower stress hormones. Studies have shown that eating several servings of nuts per week can cut heart attack risk in half. Mix them into your diet to maximize your stress benefits (but watch your portion sizes so you don’t add pounds, too).
5. Mangos. People think of oranges as being the vitamin C powerhouse, but half a mango has about 95 milligrams, while the average cup of orange juice has about 65 milligrams. The nutrient naturally helps to regulate stress hormones and blood pressure. One study out of Germany showed people who upped their intake to 1,000 mg a day had significantly lower blood pressure and levels of stress hormone cortisol, plus reported feeling more calm when taking supplements. The FDA recommends shooting for 60 milligrams of vitamin C a day, but studies suggest the number should be more like 200 milligrams daily. Other great sources of the nutrient? Broccoli, kiwi, tomatoes and peppers.
6. Avocados. We’ll take any excuse to make guacamole, including that avocado lowers blood pressure thanks to high contents of potassium and healthy fat (monounsaturated). Not to mention, it’s almost as smooth and creamy as your favorite pint of gelato (but at a fraction of the calories), so this green snack can curb cravings fast.
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