We all know about the foods we shouldn’t eat when we’re stressed – the ones we crave, like chocolate and potato chips. But did you know there are foods that can actually help reduce your stress levels? Instead ransacking that old, hidden Halloween candy, try these stress relieving options instead. Some of them might surprise you and satisfy your sweet or salty cravings at the same time!
- Dark Chocolate – there’s a reason you crave chocolate when you’re stressed. Chocolate prompts the brain to release endorphins, or feel-good chemicals, and can lower blood pressure. But we’re not talking about a Snickers bar. Look for dark chocolate with 70 percent cacao or more, since higher cocoa content means more antioxidants and a bigger boost to your endorphin and serotonin levels.
- Banana with Almond Butter – remember the “ants on a log” from your youth? This is the adult version. Bananas are loaded with vitamin B6, another serotonin-booster, and almond butter provides a healthy amount of protein and fat, which are great for stabilizing your blood sugar. Add zinc-rich pumpkin seeds to really bring it up a notch.
- Avocado Toast – avocado toast supplies a healthy serving of brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids. They are essential for boosting energy and improve your learning ability, problem solving and memory skills. By choosing whole grain toast you’ll get added vitamin B, which converts amino acids into neurotransmitters for better brain function.
- Kale Smoothie – really any smoothie that has a dark green, leafy vegetable (spinach, Swiss chard or bok choy) at its base will do the trick. They’re great sources of antioxidants and fiber for a much-needed energy boost, which will in turn help increase productivity, while also reducing stress and anxiety.
- Oatmeal with Nuts and Berries – it’s a stress reducing trifecta. The B vitamins in oats help stabilize your mood. Plus, the vitamin C from the berries is also great at relieving stress. Nuts, especially walnuts are packed with stress relieving omega 3 fatty acids. Try to make the stovetop variety as it contains far less sugar than the packets.
- Green or Chamomile Tea – a cup of comfort can do wonders for your stress levels. Both green and chamomile tea contain properties that lower stress and anxiety levels. Green tea also contains the amino acid, L-theanine, which is thought to promote relaxation.
- Quinoa – quinoa is high in fiber and a complete protein. But it also contains magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels, balances blood sugar and aids in the transmission of nerve impulses—all of which help keep your stress and cortisol levels under control.