Stress is an inescapable aspect of our life. Short bouts of anxiety are still manageable, but chronic stress can adversely affect our physical and mental health.
Stress is our biggest enemy. It can increase depression risk and certain metabolic disorders like diabetes and heart diseases. If you struggle to lose weight even after keeping a check on calorie intake, high-stress levels could be an underlying cause.
But do you know certain foods can help ease your stress and anxiety levels?
When the stress levels in the body rise, it results in an increased craving for foods high in fats and sugar. Although, sweet and high-fat foods stimulate the brain to release pleasure hormones to reduce tension and provide a quick jolt of replenishing energy. But these high-calorie foods not only contribute to overeating and subsequent weight gain, but they can even make your stress even worse.
Here, we will talk about foods that really act as great stress busters without affecting your waistline.
- Sweet Potatoes
- Fermented Foods like Kimchi
- Fatty Fish
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Dark Chocolate
- Matcha Green Tea
- Green Leafy Vegetables
Sweet potatoes have been shown to suppress stress hormone – cortisol levels. They are packed with complex carbs, vitamin C and potassium, essential for stress response.
Research suggests that fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and probiotics benefit our mental health by reducing stress and anxiety due to their interactions with our gut bacteria, directly affecting our mood.
Fatty fishes like salmon, sardine, tuna, mackerel and anchovy are packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Low omega-3 fat intake is linked to increased anxiety and depression. EPA and DHA in omega-3 fats help reduce stress levels and improve mood.
Pumpkin seeds are loaded with potassium and zinc. Zinc is essential for brain development involved with emotions. The deficiency of zinc may negatively affect mood and increase the likelihood of stress and anxiety.
Have a small piece of dark chocolate containing more than 70% cocoa whenever you feel low. Cocoa is rich in polyphenols and has high tryptophan content, needed to make serotonin – the feel-good hormone. Dark chocolate also contains magnesium, and a diet rich in magnesium may reduce symptoms of depression.
Matcha Green Tea
Another stress relief food is matcha. Matcha green tea contains L-Theanine amino acid, which has anti-anxiety and calming effects. Matcha green tea is also a boon for the immune system and lessens heart disease risk due to its rich antioxidant content.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables like spinach, mustard leaves and kale contain folic acid, which produces dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical that helps us keep calm.
Whole eggs are particularly rich in choline. Choline plays an integral role in brain health and may protect against stress. Eggs also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps create serotonin to regulate mood, sleep, memory, and behaviour.
Yoghurt is packed with health-boosting bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. They are anti-inflammatory and promote gut health. Studies have found that sound gut health impacts emotions, anxiety, depression, and stress.
Nuts are rich in mood-boosting selenium, serotonin-precursor tryptophan, magnesium – a vital nutrient for our body’s natural stress coping mechanism and depression-relieving omega-3 fatty acids.
Try including some of these foods and beverages into your diet to promote stress relief naturally.