We all have different stress triggers in life, whether it’s a relationship, work, or self-esteem problems. If you don’t seem to be relaxing, your diet might be part of why. When our brain is overwhelmed, it’s tempting to head to high-calorie, processed foods that provide a quick boost before they turn into a miserable crash. Treat your body like a temple when you’re stressed, and your mental health will reap the benefits. Here are our favorite foods that reduce your daily anxiety and increase your energy.
Step away from the ranch dressing and drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil on your salad.
The daily consumption of olive oil has been shown to boost serotonin. We suggest EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) which has little processing and contains tons of healthy phenols. Store your olive oil in a dark and cool place and make sure you always put your lid on it so that the benefits don’t decrease.
A lot of people make a face when it comes to spinach, but we’re not talking about a wilted and limp variety.
Add the nuts, goat cheese, and fruit to the raw spinach salad for a refreshing treat. It is high in folic acid, which causes our body to produce serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters will promote relaxation vs. hyped adrenaline and increased cortisol. By far, this is the tastiest way to get your folic acid.
Always our favorite sliced and dipped in hummus, red peppers are full of vitamin C, which has the ability to ward off these nasty free radicals and stress hormones. If you eat them raw (like our suggested hummus idea) the antioxidants will have a lot more power to stay. However, if you prefer it in a stir-fry, you can also get your daily dose of Vitamin C that way.
If you need an invigorating, caffeine beverage to get you through the morning, we suggest switching to black tea. Coffee leaves you with anxious jitters all day, but black tea actually lowers cortisol and stress hormones faster than herbal tea drinkers! Tea contains all kinds of goodies, such as polyphenols, flavonoids, and catechins. These are all fancy ways to say that black tea will make your neurotransmitters happy.
Sometimes you just have to snack on something when you’re stressed, and raw or roasted pumpkin seeds can really hit the spot while you’re shaking munchies. Pumpkin seeds (and nuts like almonds) have high levels of magnesium, which control stress and exhaustion levels. Sprinkle with them in a salad or bowl for an addictive crunch.
While you’re at it, why don’t you have some strawberries with your dark chocolate for the ultimate romantic snack that’s good for your body as well? These berries are surprisingly high in fiber and have a lot of vitamin C. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, which normally rise during stressful periods, in many studies.
Yes, your favorite happy hour indulgence is very good for you, too. Not only are they powerful aphrodisiacs, but these small and slimy treats are known for their high zinc content (400 percent higher than the recommended dietary recommendation) which is good news. Zinc itself is an antioxidant that strengthens our immune system and reduces stress and inflammation.
Oats are generally full of fiber, which is great for your health and to keeps your intestines regular. However, steel-cut oats contain the most concentrated amount of nutrients and help to stabilize your blood sugar. It’s when the blood sugar spikes and crashes (thanks to the refined sugar) that we encounter some problems.
Whole wheat pretzels
Looking for a snack, but don’t you want to get a bag of chips? Munch on some pretzels of whole wheat! Miniature or large, this is the ultimate salty snack. They provide a filling combination of carbohydrates and fiber that stimulates our brain to produce more serotonin. Avoid those street cart pretzels or bar options that can be loaded with grease and are definitely not whole wheat.
Chocolate can be a lifesaver when it comes to reducing stress, but if you have to focus on the “bean to bar” ratio, which means more cocoa and pure ingredients than Hershey’s processed goods. If you don’t have extra sugar, dark chocolate can have antioxidant and emotional benefits to help you chill out.