Food and Wine

Three health foods that can reduce stress

Everyone knows that eating good food can help your waistline and health, but what about your stress levels? According to industry experts, some superfoods have the ability to reduce stress, promote calm or just generally promote a blissful state.

The relaxing benefits of things like chamomile tea have been a home remedy for centuries, but if you’re prone to stress and anxiety, you might want to look at your diet in general. De-stressing foods can be worked into your everyday eating habits. A number of sources support the stress reducing effects of things like omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, zinc, magnesium and a number of other vitamins and minerals. While it’s good to know this, it’s even better to know which foods you can choose to help calm your day.

1. Dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is a delicious treat that can soothe both mentally and physically. It’s thought that the antioxidants in chocolate help to physically ease stress. One Swiss study found it helped to reduce stress hormones in the body.

There’s another benefit to having a piece of chocolate that even the experts recognise, and that’s comfort. Allowing yourself one piece of dark chocolate each day can have a calming effect because it’s such a pleasant thing to do. When it comes to chocolate’s health benefits, the darker the better, even with dairy free chocolate such as the brands we sell at GoodnessDirect.

2. Carbohydrate combining. Having trouble sleeping? Try a turkey or tofu sandwich with a glass of milk. The combination of complex carbohydrates in the bread with the tryptophan in the turkey, tofu and milk should make you sleepy.

Many people suffering from depression or sleeplessness already know about the benefits of tryptophan. Tryptophan is a natural amino acid that aids in the production of serotonin, which promotes calm and helps regulate feelings, and can be found in a whole range of foods including soy beans, turkey, spinach, cow’s milk and eggs. What many people don’t know, however, is that tryptophan’s effects can be heightened by combining with complex carbohydrates.

3. Avocado and other omega-3-rich foods. Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of a healthy diet, and many people simply don’t get enough of them. What they’re missing out on is not just the nutrition that these acids provide, but the de-stressing benefits as well. Various studies have found that omega-3s boost concentration, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve mood.

The simplest way to get some omega-3 into your diet? Spread some avocado on your sandwich. Avocados are rich in omega-3s, as are walnuts, flax seeds, sardines and salmon. Some egg farmers have started providing omega-3 fortified eggs.

To help further reduce your stress, keep an eye out for foods that are rich in zinc. This mineral helps keep your metabolic rate stable, which can calm your mood.

Of course, enjoying low fat food and other health foods is always a good way to keep your body in balance. If you choose your foods carefully, though, you can expect your daily meals to do even more.