As the school and work year ramps up, so can our stress levels. While attempting to keep your stress in check, food can be one of your biggest allies or enemies — so, it's critical to pay attention to what you're eating.
One of the best ways to help feel a bit more at ease is to eat nutrient-rich foods and snacks. A nutritious, well-balanced diet has powerful stress reducing benefits that can improve brain function, boost immune function, lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and reduce toxins from the body. A few specific nutrients — such as Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Magnesium, and Selenium — can even play a very important role in reducing the levels of cortisol and adrenalin in the body.
While all of these benefits are great, it’s also important that your diet is one that you can enjoy. So, always keep a lookout for quality ingredients and delicious functional snacks.
Rich in antioxidants and iron, dark chocolate could help reduce stress by encouraging the body to release endorphins and serotonin. Make sure to choose dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa (70% or higher) for maximum benefits. Better yet, look for heart-healthy nuts covered with dark chocolate, it’s a win-win.
Almonds and walnuts are rich in B vitamins, healthy fatty acids, and magnesium which helps relax muscles and improve blood flow. They also have healthy fats and proteins that aid in stress reduction.
OMEGA-3-RICH FISH, SUCH AS SALMON
An anti-inflammatory nutrient, Omega-3 Fatty Acids not only help reduce stress but also improves brain function and heart health. By adding seafood and omega-3-rich snacks to your diet, you are doing your body and palate a huge favor.
Whole grains provide complex carbohydrates for sustained energy release throughout the day, as well as B vitamins for improved brain functioning and stress management. Carbohydrates, found in bread and other starchy foods, help to increase levels of serotonin — the hormone linked to a good mood boost.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Fruits and vegetables are fiber and antioxidant-rich foods that are helpful in maintaining proper gut health, which can affect immunity and mood. Fruits that contain vitamin C and D are particularly beneficial in stress management. On the other hand, vegetables such as broccoli and kale, are a great option.
So, the next time you feel stress creeping up on you, reach for dark chocolate, a handful of nuts or a healthy snack instead of junk food. Your body — and taste buds — will thank you.