How we feel has everything to do with what we eat, and some foods are much better equipped than others to nourish our hearts and souls, in addition to our bodies. We’ve done some research and compiled a list of foods we believe will give you an extra boost as you power through your hectic days (and sometimes sleep-deprived nights). In order to give your all and be your best your body needs the most empowering and fortified fuel possible. And especially during periods of high stress. So next time you’re out grabbing the groceries, don’t hesitate to stock up on these kickass foods:
1/ Green Leafy Vegetables. This one’s a no-brainer. Green vegetables contain high amounts of folate, which is key to keeping you calm and resilient. Folate produces the pleasure-inducing brain chemical dopamine in your body. Green veggies with especially high folate include spinach, romaine lettuce, asparagus and broccoli.
2/ Citrus Fruits. Okay, you may be rolling your eyes now because you already knew oranges and grapefruits are great for your health. But not just for their vitamin C content — also for the folate they provide. Low levels of folate are linked with depression, so be sure to regularly power up on citrus fruits and green veggies for optimal health.
3/ Berries. Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries all contain large quantities of antioxidants and phytonutrients that improve your body’s response to stress. Research has even shown people who eat blueberries regularly experience an increase in their ‘natural killer cells’, the white blood cells that play an essential role in immunity.
4/ Avocados. We keep reading about how great they are for us — and with good reason. Avocados are rich in glutathione, a substance that prevents the absorption of certain fats that cause oxidative damage to your body. Rich in beta-carotene (converted by your body into antioxidant vitamin A), vitamin E and folate, these fruits are packed with stress-fighting nutrition.
5/ Chamomile Tea. A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania reveals that chamomile is more than just a bedtime soother, as nutritionist Keri Glassman points out. When 57 participants with generalized anxiety disorder were given chamomile supplements over a period of 8 weeks, it led to a significant drop in their anxiety symptoms. So embrace your inner zen by enjoying a calming pot of chamomile tea.
6/ Cashews. With just one serving containing over 10% the recommended daily requirement of zinc, cashews are an excellent snack to boost your mood and to alleviate feelings of anxiety. There is a link between low levels of zinc and depression and, as our bodies are unable to store this mineral, it’s especially important you incorporate enough zinc into your daily diet.
7/ Oatmeal. The complex carbohydrates in oatmeal increase levels of serotonin in the brain, MayoClinic.com shares. Serotonin is a neurochemical known for producing a calming effect on the brain and body, relieving feelings of anxiety, nervousness and insomnia. Whole grains that are rich in essential nutrients and high in fiber will give give your body the energy and boost it needs, while helping you stay cool and positive during challenging times. Even better: Add sliced banana for a Vitamin B6 boost (30% of the daily recommended intake) and a greater increase in serotonin.
Twelve Superfoods for Stress Relief, article in ‘Health’: http://goo.gl/W0SbAB
13 Health Foods That Reduce Stress and Depression, in Prevention, Keri Glassman: http://goo.gl/o2rVJr
“Eat to Beat Stress”, Men’s Health: http://goo.gl/052Dt5
“16 Simple Healing Foods”, in Prevention, by Robert Firpo-Cappiello: http://goo.gl/yUXZwe