foods to relieve stressWho doesn’t love food? Admit it, eating is the most enjoyable moment in our everyday lives. While food keeps us going every day, there’s more to it than just keeping our tummies full. Eating foods is also known to improve one’s mood and relieve stress. This is why you often see people resorting to foods when they feel stressed. So you guessed it, a blog post about foods to relieve stress! Yes indeed!

But you shouldn’t take this reason to justify that it’s okay to eat everything as long as it makes you feel comforted and happy. You shouldn’t use the calming property of foods as an excuse to binge eating. Excessive eating can contribute to acute depression caused by obesity. In addition to this, you should also note that not all foods are stress relievers. Some foods can even worsen your stress level and anxiety. So be aware of what you eat.

How can foods relieve stress?

This can be answered in a more scientific explanation. The body’s cortisol level increases during stressful events. This hormone is released from the adrenal gland as a response to stress. It triggers food cravings due to its gluconeogenesis function which is responsible for the metabolism of protein and carbohydrates to generate glucose (sugar). This means that a rise in cortisol level causes cravings for sweet foods and carbohydrates. Remember about the foods that can worsen stress? This is where they come in. When you take in high amounts of sugar and carbs, cortisol activates an enzyme in the fat cells that causes more production of cortisol. These enzymes are mostly found in the visceral fat cells, and the continuous increase of cortisol can lead to the accumulation of more belly fat.  To make it even worse, these fat cells have been associated with higher risks of diabetes and heart disease.

So the next time you feel stressed and you suddenly feel cravings for foods, don’t immediately give in! Learn to exercise discipline and go for foods that can lower the cortisol level in your body because that is the only way to relieve stress.

Below is the list of 12 foods you need to grab in order to keep your stress in check:

  1. Oatmeal

One of the most effective ways to combat stress-causing cortisol is to increase the level of serotonin. Serotonin is a biochemical which is contributed to the feeling of happiness and good mood. Oatmeals have been found to trigger the brain to produce serotonin in order to create a more soothing feeling. An important type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan is also found in oatmeal. This component suppresses your food cravings by giving you the feeling of being full while providing you enough energy you need throughout the day. It is because of these benefits that oatmeals have become the most preferred breakfast meal.

  1. Asparagus

These green, slender stalks are rich in folate which is known to stabilize mood and reduce depression, panic, and anxiety. Never mind about your urine having a funny smell. What’s more important is that it can provide you nutrients while keeping your cool. You can steam the stalks and add them to salads or just munch it as it is.

  1. Chamomile tea

When talking about foods with calming properties, it’s a no-brainer that tea is one of them. Chamomile tea, in particular, is one of the most recommended drinks than can relax the mind and body. Drinking chamomile tea before going to bed has been proven to promote good sleep and a good alternative for people suffering from sleep disorders or insomnia. This soothing aromatic tea can also significantly drop anxiety symptoms. This comes available in loose or in tea bags. You can also make your own tea at home. Just put 2 to 3 tablespoons of dried chamomile flowers in a cup then pour in boiling water. Let it infuse for 3 minutes. Use a strainer to catch the flowers. You may also add lemon juice or honey. You can also enjoy it iced-cold during summer.

  1. Berries

Blueberries contain high amount of anthocyanin, an antioxidant contributed to sharper cognition and some other positive health results. Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and most berries are good sources of vitamin C which is essential in relieving stress by reducing cortisol level and lowering blood pressure. So whenever you feel stress starting to kick in, don’t forget to nibble on these berries.

  1. Avocados

Avocados are high in glutathione, a substance responsible for blocking certain fats from being absorbed in the intestines in order to prevent oxidative damage. These creamy fruits are also rich in vitamin B, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein, and folate. Use portion control by eating a recommended serving of one-quarter of an avocado to ensure proper nutrients intake.

  1. Cashew nuts

Nuts are all-time favorite snacks and are great remedy for many cravings. Moderate amount of nuts can supply sufficient amount of protein and fat. Be careful not to eat too much because nuts are high in calories. Cashew nuts are rich in zinc. Anxiety and depression are both linked to low levels of zinc. Unfortunately, our bodies cannot store zinc so it is important to supply our body with zinc every day. Adding cashew nuts into your meal provides the required daily intake of zinc to maintain a healthy body and well-being.

  1. Chocolate

I’ve been telling you to stay away from sweets earlier but why is chocolate included on this list? Chocolates are not entirely bad. The cocoa bean itself typically tastes bitter. Chocolate only becomes bad when they add ridiculous amount of sugar to make it tastes sweeter. And those are the types of chocolate that you should be avoiding. Dark chocolate contains less to no sugar and less additives. Moderate eating of dark chocolates can result to lower blood pressure and projects calmer feeling. It contains healthy antioxidants polyphenols and flavonols which are beneficial to the heart.

  1. Garlic

Garlic is a great source of antioxidants that combat free radicals and prevent these damaging particles to cause diseases, damage the cells, and speed up aging. Another essential compound found in garlic is allicin which has been linked to help reduce the risks of common colds, cancer, and heart disease. Garlic has an amazing property of boosting the body’s immune system, which is greatly needed during stressful events when the immune system weakens. Try adding garlic into your meals to experience its healthy benefits.

  1. Oranges

Just like berries, oranges are also rich in vitamin C which is known to be an effective stress reliever. And how refreshing does a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice sounds? You can also add some pulps into the juice or make an orange smoothie, preferably without sugar.

  1. Walnuts

These sweet-flavored nuts contain an important omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid, and other antioxidants which contribute to the prevention of memory loss. Walnuts also have an interesting property of reversing some symptoms of brain aging. Talking about a real brain food! Toast the walnuts for 10 minutes to bring out its natural flavor.

  1. Oysters

Besides being regarded as great aphrodisiacs, oysters also contains high amount of zinc which can help relieve stress. A serving of six oysters can supply enough amount of zinc needed by the body. These can be served on ice with some lemon wedges on top.

  1. Green Tea

Green tea contains theanine, an amino acid that protects our body against cancer-causing radicals, enhances mental performance, boosts brain functions, and helps burn fat. A recommended serving of two cups a day lets you enjoy the health benefits of green tea. Be aware of its caffeine content though. Excessive intake of green tea may pose negative effects on your health.