Between work, family, bills and your bursting social calendar, it’s no wonder that you’re walking around like tightly coiled spring.
If you’re not careful, stress can make you sick. The wear of daily pressures can lead to high blood pressure, insomnia, increased risk of heart attack and lowered immune response. And let’s face it, when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to make bad food choices. But this can do more harm than good “ you don’t want food guilt, bloating and low blood sugar mood swings adding to your list of worries.
When things seem out of control, one of the easiest ways to feel balanced is to balance your diet. So put down that bag of chips and reach for one of these stress-fighting foods instead.
Fish is loaded with vitamin B12 which helps your brain use serotonin “ the happy chemical that moderates mood and gives you that all-over sense of well-being. Cold-water fish like mackerel, salmon and Arctic char are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help counteract the effects of stress on your heart.
Hazelnuts are high in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin. Tryptophan also helps you sleep, and a good night’s rest is integral to neutralizing stress. Almonds are high in protein, iron, zinc and vitamin E and help fortify your immune system and your heart. What’s more, the simple act of crunching down on a hard snack is enough to help calm nerves and slow down your overactive mind. Remember, though, that since nuts are high in fat, a little goes a long way: small handful is all you need for stress-relieving benefits. Bonus: the healthy fat in nuts will give your belly “ and your brain “ that full feeling, helping you to ward off cravings.
It’s not every day you’ll find steak on a list of superfoods, but when it comes to stress busting, beef is a king. High in iron, zinc and B vitamins, red meat will bliss you out and boost your immune response. Choose lean cuts like tenderloin and top sirloin to ease up on saturated fat, and keep your portions small “ a serving of beef should be no larger than a deck of cards.
The vitamin C in oranges goes a long way to repairing a stress-wearied immune system. A glass of orange juice will provide you with the benefit of the C, but eating your oranges will give you an extra dose of fibre, which also helps keep the digestive tract healthy when you need it most.
The rich, silky texture of a ripe avocado should reduce stress simply for how indulgent it feels to eat it. But it’s benefits extend beyond that: avocados are high in potassium and monounsaturated fats, both of which work to lower your blood pressure. Add some slices to your salad or mash up some guacamole “ and if you use a few chips, hey, at least you’ve got a healthy dip.