Eat to beat the stress: 6 best stress reducing foods!
N.B. This blog is also available in Finnish and you’ll find it here
Long and stressful week at work, and you decide to “reward” your self with some treats at the evening. Maybe pizza or a bowl of your favorite pasta, and a tub of Ben & Jerry’s with some Reese’s and Twizzlers on the side. This kind of solution may buy you a temporary sense of relaxation and calm, but it’s only a non-lasting quick fix that wears off way too fast and leaves you feeling disappointed in yourself and even more stressed out.
But hey, you’re not completely wrong; eating does reduce stress for sure! But here’s the thing: there’s a big difference what you eat when feeling overwhelmed and unfortunately fries and lollipops won’t do the magic. Those commonly known comfort foods (full of sugars, refined carbs and fat) will only transfer the feeling of stress, but they do not eliminate it definitively. They actually cause the opposite reaction, and the stress mode in your mind and body just continues going strong.
To make this a little bit easier for you, I listed my favorite stress reducing foods. No hard-to-find superfoods or supplements, just ordinary food items found in your local super market.
Here are my 6 To Go Key foods that reduce stress, and even better nourish and fill you up:
Oatmeal. One more reason to have my every day bowl of oats! Oatmeal causes your brain to produce serotonin (with its complex carbs, that are digested more slowly and don’t spike blood sugar like white bread), a feel-good chemical, that helps overcome stress.
Blueberries. The antioxidants and phytonutrients found in berries, and especially in blueberries, help you to improve your body’s response to stress and fight stress-related free radicals. Berries are also loaded with vitamin C, which fights also against stress. How about a bowl of oats with berries for breakfast tomorrow?
Seeds and nuts. Stress depletes our B vitamin stores and snacking on seeds and nuts helps replenish them. They also are packed with potassium and magnesium, that can lower blood pressure, and to alleviate depression, fatigue and irritability. So next time when you feel stressed, grab a bag of pistachios, shell the nuts one by one and reduce acute stress by eating and nourishing your body at the same time 😉 .
Leafy greens. Green smoothie or salad for lunch may not sound as tempting as cheeseburger or a bowl of pasta, when you’re feeling exhausted. But go green and thank yourself later! Leafy green veggies, especially spinach, are rich in stress-busting magnesium (magnesium gets flushed out of the body when you’re stressed), which also helps regulate cortisol and blood pressure. They are also packed with folate, which produces feel good-chemical called dopamine, that helps you to keep calm when life feels chaotic. The deeper the green color is, the better!
Salmon. When life gets bumpy and you feel stressed, your anxiety hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, will most probably rise up and you’ll feel even more crappy. To avoid this, you need omega-3s, especially DHA, which salmon has to offer to you. So reach for salmon or other oily fish at least twice a week, and let those omega-3 fatty acids boost your mood.
Dark chocolate. Bad day = chocolate? Been there, done that! But to be honest, studies have shown that chocolate really can reduce our stress hormones, including cortisol. It contains two important types of antioxidants (polyphenols and flavonols), and is also known to lower blood pressure and improving circulation, adding to a feeling of calm. So go for it! Choose the ones that contain at least 75% of cocoa (Or choose the best option: cacao nibs!), and have a piece, but not a whole bar 😉 .