This is the second in a two-part series that will introduce you to some foods that can help you lessen and deal with stress. As also mentioned previously, stress can result in unhealthy eating bouts, with one opting for copious amounts of foods like donuts, candy bars, and ice cream to fight the cravings resulting from cortisol release. Sweet snacking may give momentary relief only and is certainly not a reliable mechanism to handle stress. Here are five more foods that will instead provide a mechanism to effectively deal with stress.
The mild smoothness of chamomile tea makes it one of the most popular flavours among herbal tea drinkers. On top of that, it’s caffeine-free, which means it won’t increase your anxiety levels. In fact, chamomile tea helps increase serotonin and melatonin, helping you feel relaxed without making you feel sleepy, and thereby making it the perfect mood-booster for any time of day. If chamomile isn’t your cup of tea (so to speak), other herbal teas, like mint, lavender, and rosehip have similar relaxing properties.
Fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel contain good fats that are rich in omega-3s and vitamin D. These can help reduce the effects of stress and anxiety by preventing surges in stress hormones. Fatty fish also helps promote overall good heart health, which lowers blood pressure and eases bodily stress. Tip: for a healthier meal, try baking rather than frying your filets.
When you think of vitamin C, you might immediately think of oranges. Red peppers, however, contain the highest amount of vitamin C of any foods in the produce section. In fact, just one cup of chopped red peppers contains three times the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Studies show that those who incorporated higher amounts of vitamin C into their diet had lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. Try snacking on red peppers raw with some hummus or stir fry them with other vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, carrots, peas, and French beans to create an easy and colourful dish.
Studies have shown that pistachios help reduce vascular stress. They have a high healthy fat content, which helps lower your cholesterol levels and eases inflammation in your arteries. The antioxidants found in pistachios ultimately help keep the blood vessels open and relaxed during stressful situations, plus they’re great additions to yogurt or baked goods, other than being a standalone snack option.
There is an indulgent option (luckily) that you can add to your whole grains and produce. Dark chocolate is rich in a type of antioxidant called flavonoids, which helps in the reduction of inflammation in the body. This helps lower levels of cortisol in the body. What’s more, dark chocolate helps reduce catecholamines, which is the “fight-or-flight” hormone that spikes when the body is feeling stressed. It’s the perfect indulgence, really: all of the health benefits with none of the guilt!
There are, of course, many other foods out there that can help soothe and manage stress. Exploration of different foods and their combinations in creative recipes does not only provide a way to have fun but also offers tremendous health effects. This only goes to show that making small changes to your diet can have the biggest impact on your life.
Jericho Tadeo | Contributing Writer