Food has more of an impact than just relieving our hunger. What we eat is an integral component of our entire life, and believe it or not, food can even affect our stress.
For example, processed (or refined) sugars are one of the leading causes of inflammation and diabetes around the world. Inflammation directly affects stress. Sugar also increases the risk of obesity, causes dramatic fluctuations in glucose levels and can even damage our immune system. We eat it because it makes food taste good, but it may also boost our stress without us knowing it.
A variety of other foods boost stress levels too, such as white flour, too much salt and even caffeine from our morning coffee. That Chinese take-out we all love is loaded with sodium, soups are chalk-full of preservatives, ice cream is packed with sugars and juices are loaded with glucose and fructose.
All of these foods have been shown to increase inflammation and stress and pack additional pounds onto our waistlines.
To reduce your level of stress, look to your diet. These 6 foods should be at the top of your next grocery list.
Eat these 6+ foods to relieve stress
Leafy greens – I know, not everybody likes their veggies. But, they are one of the healthiest foods to eat because of the vitamins and minerals that they provide. And vegetables like Spinach can promote the release of dopamine, the chemical in our brains responsible for providing us with a feeling of pleasure and calmness.
Cashews and Pistachios – Not only are these nuts tasty, but they are also loaded with nutrients and minerals. Cashews contain more than 10% of our recommended daily amount of Zinc, a mineral that has been shown to reduce anxiety. Pistachios have been shown to lower blood pressure and, through the robotic cracking open of their shells, can induce a calming and stress-reducing rhythmic process.
Dark chocolate – Chocolate lovers can rejoice that dark chocolate is one of those foods shown to help regulate cortisol, a stress hormone. That said, don’t base your entire diet around dark chocolate. Moderation is key, especially with this tasty treat!
Farm-Fresh Eggs – Eggs are loaded with minerals and are a great source of vitamin D. And, vitamin D is linked to better immune systems, stronger mood regulation and even lessening the effects of depression. “I recommend farm-fresh, pasture-raised eggs, versus commercial eggs raised in chicken factories, fed antibiotics, and subjected to high levels of stress,” writes Clean Plates. Include this staple food in your meals to pack more vitamin D into your diet.
Complex Carbohydrates – Carbs get a bad wrap, but complex carbs – such as oatmeal, chickpeas and sweet potatoes, help the brain to make a chemical called serotonin, which contributes to a feeling of happiness and general wellbeing. Complex carbohydrates also pack in more nutrients than simple carbs, contain more fiber and make us feel more full, for longer.
Green Tea – While this isn’t food, it deserves a spot in the list. Green Tea has been shown in countless studies to improve people’s moods and stress levels. And, evidence has shown that the more you drink, the better. Green tea may also improve brain function, help to prevent diabetes and even control the signs of aging. Herbal teas, like lavender or chamomile, offer the same types of stress benefits.
If you are a seafood eater, salmon and oysters are also good choices. Blueberries, too. Avocados, oranges and even seaweed also possess nutrients that have been shown to reduce or control stress and help to promote overall good health.