The Top 8 Foods That Reduce Stress (alternatives to wine and ice cream)

Written by Joel Marion

Foods that reduce stress

With all the pressures and demands placed on us by work, family, and our many other relationships, life can get downright stressful at times.

If you have a job, a family, interact with other people, or battle with ever-changing technology or the numerous other demands on time and energy we face in today’s everyday life, you know what I’m talking about.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for many of us to reach for all the WRONG foods when we’re stressed. Even worse are unhealthy habits like drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes to cope with life’s challenges… all disastrous choices for health, hormones, and waistline alike.

But what if I told you that you could EAT your way to a more relaxed, calmer state, without packing on the pounds? Or even better, what if you could do it while DROPPING some of those pesky pounds as you do?!

Well, I have some good news: you CAN! As long as you know exactly which belly-slimming foods to reach for when things get a little crazy. Here are 8 of my favorite foods that reduce stress:

8 Foods That Reduce Stress

1. Oatmeal — Carbs prompt your brain to make more serotonin, your body’s “feel-good” chemical. Choosing a low glycemic index (GI) carb source that provides a steady blood sugar response, like old-fashioned oatmeal, is a healthy choice for your waistline and your stress levels as it yields a sustained supply of serotonin for a calming, soothing effect.

2. Blueberries — Packed with antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress within the body, blueberries are also rich in Vitamin C. As an added benefit, they’re also extremely low on the glycemic index, so they’re a great choice practically any time of day.

3. Turkey — Turkey contains an amino acid called L-tryptophan, which also triggers serotonin release and a relaxed state which partly explains the well-known post-Thanksgiving stupor. Gobble gobble… time for a nap!

4. Avocados — Due to their high potassium content, avocados have been shown to help reduce stress-related high blood pressure. Believe it or not, avocados actually contain more potassium than bananas! Guacamole anyone?

5. Broccoli — Broccoli contains folic acid, a vitamin that has been shown to help reduce stress, anxiety, panic, and depression. Just another reason to enjoy this superfood regularly.

6. Salmon — Salmon and other fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a positive effect on stress levels. For instance, a study published in Diabetes & Metabolism found that omega-3s keep the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline from peaking, while another study conducted at Ohio State University showed omega-3 fatty acids to decrease anxiety by 20%!

More Benefits of Omega-3

7. Almonds — Yum! Stress relief at its best! These little guys are packed with B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc—all of which are involved in the production of serotonin. The zinc and magnesium combination in particular has been shown to improve sleep in numerous ways. For example, one Italian study showed zinc and magnesium shortened the time it took subjects to fall asleep while improving quality of sleep and alertness the morning after.

8. Oranges — In one study, German researchers found that consuming Vitamin C helped test subjects experience reduced elevations in cortisol (your body’s #1 stress hormone) and blood pressure when subjected to a stressful environment—in this case, public speaking and math problems! (I’m glad I wasn’t a subject in this particular study!) Other foods high in Vitamin C include peppers, cantaloupe, and tomatoes, just to name a few.

Hopefully, these eight nutritious foods that reduce stress will help you redefine “stress eating” the next time you’re faced with a challenging event, person, or experience. With foods science has shown are good for your health, hormones, and waistline alike, you’ll take another step toward reaching your goals instead of sabotaging your success.

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