When you’re stressed, you crave foods that you believe will make you feel better. It’s time to put down the chips and chocolate and reconsider your comfort foods. Try these stress-relieving natural choices instead.
- Oatmeal – Oatmeal is the ultimate comfort food! A complex carbohydrate, oatmeal causes your brain to produce serotonin, a feel-good chemical. Not only does serotonin have antioxidant properties, it also creates a soothing feeling that helps overcome stress. Studies have shown that kids who eat oatmeal for breakfast stay sharper throughout the morning. And beta-glucan, the type of soluble fiber found in oatmeal, has been shown to promote greater satiety scores than other whole grains. Make a batch of the steel-cut variety on the weekend, store it in the fridge, and microwave it on busy mornings.
- Bananas – Next time you feel stressed, reach for a banana. With only 105 calories and 14 g of sugar, a medium banana fills you up, provides a mild blood sugar boost, and has 30% of the day’s vitamin B6, which helps the brain produce mellowing serotonin, getting you through a crisis calmly.
- Avocados – These creamy fruits stress-proof your body. Rich in glutathione, a substance that specifically blocks intestinal absorption of certain fats that cause oxidative damage, avocados also contain lutein, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and more folate than any other fruit. A single serving (about one-quarter of an avocado) has plenty of B vitamins, too.
- Berries – Blueberries have some of the highest levels of an antioxidant known as anthocyanin, and they’ve been linked to all kinds of positive health outcomes, including sharper cognition. But all berries, including strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to be helpful in combating stress. German researchers tested this by asking 120 people to give a speech, then do hard math problems. Those who had been given vitamin C had lower blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol after being exposed to the stress.
- Garlic – Like many plants, garlic is packed with powerful antioxidants. These chemicals neutralize free radicals (particles that damage our cells, cause diseases, and encourage aging) and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage the free radicals cause over time. Among the compounds in garlic is allicin, which has been linked to fending off heart disease and the common cold. Because stress weakens our immune system, we need foods like garlic to improve our immunity.