Stress-Relieving Foods and Beverages
Feeling stressed? Relieve it with these these ten nutrient-rich foods and beverages that may help combat stress and are also beneficial for inflammation and chronic diseases!
There are many lifestyle measures and treatment methods that have been studied to help relieve stress. These include meditation, deep breathing, yoga, exercise, aromatherapy, acupuncture, journaling, music and dance therapy, laugh therapy, socializing, psychotherapy, and more.
What you eat or drink when feeling stressed may also affect how you feel. Certain foods may help relieve stress and boost mood by decreasing cortisol and inflammatory markers in the body and by increasing serotonin and dopamine levels. Try the foods and beverages noted below the next time you're feeling stressed, in addition to other methods noted above! By trying different things, you may be able to find what works best for your individual needs.
1. Matcha powder and herbal teas Matcha powder is a vibrant green tea powder made from leaves of green tea bushes. It is rich in theanine, a compound found to have stress-relieving properties in both animal and human studies. Matcha has been found to reduce stress if its theanine content is high and caffeine content is low. Matcha powder can be enjoyed whisked into hot water, milk, or milk alternates. Look for it in your local tea shop as well as cafes or coffee shops. Herbal teas, especially chamomile and lavender teas, have also been shown to have anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects due to their antioxidant properties and emotional effect. Sipping warm beverages such as herbal teas may be helpful for winding down and the aromatics provide complementary aromatherapy as well.
2. Fatty Fish
Examples of fatty or oily fish include salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, anchovies, herring. These fish have oil found in soft tissues and are rich in heart-healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) which promote brain health, reduce inflammation, and may assist in stress-relief. Fatty fish are also good sources of vitamin D, which may improve levels of calming neurotransmitters in the brain. The best source of vitamin D is the sun, but fatty fish are good dietary sources of this fat-soluble vitamin. Having two (4-ounce) servings of fatty fish per week in place of meat-based proteins is a great way to incorporate these into your weekly meal plan!
3. Nuts and seeds Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds are also rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids and other stress-busting nutrients such as magnesium, selenium, B-vitamins, manganese, and copper. Nuts and seeds make a great snack option and can be enjoyed sprinkled into salads, oatmeal, yogurt, trail mixes, smoothies and other dishes throughout the week.
4. Dark Chocolate Dark chocolate (70% or higher) is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols. Dark chocolate may be helpful to combat stress when enjoyed in moderation, about 1-1.5 ounces dark chocolate per occasion. It has anti-inflammatory properties and may improve cognitive function. Try adding one serving as an end-cap to your dinner meal to enjoy this stress-buster for dessert.
5. Fermented Probiotic Foods and Beverages
Fermented probiotic foods such as yogurt, Kefir, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, kimchi, natto, kombucha may support gut health, which has been shown to have a direct correlation to improving anxiety, depression, and mood through the gut-brain connection. Probiotics may be found in supplement form as well, but these are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and may not be tested by a third-party agency for quality. Yogurt and Kefir make great additions to meals and snacks. Sauerkraut and kimchi are fermented cabbage that make a great side to a main meal or addition to a salad. Tempeh and natto are nutritionally-complete plant-based proteins that can be used in place of animal-proteins for meals.
6. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard greens, mustard greens, beet greens, and more are good sources of stress-fighting antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E as well as magnesium. These can be enjoyed raw or cooked as a veggie side to a main dish or mixed into salads, eggs, casseroles, pasta, and other dishes throughout the week to add volume and color to a meal!
7. Garlic, Ginger, Turmeric Spices
These flavorful anti-inflammatory spices also contain powerful antioxidants which may assist with boosting serotonin and domaine levels in the brain to combat stress, anxiety, and depression. These stress-busting spices can be used in cooking or found in herbal teas. Try them in ethnic recipes such as stir-fries, curries, noodle dishes, rice dishes, soups, roasted veggies, and more!
8. Citrus fruits, Kiwis, Berries Yellow and orange fruits & vegetables as well as kiwis and berries are rich sources of Vitamin C, which may help ease stress levels. Eat the rainbow of fruits and vegetables to get a variety of nutrients throughout the week, but try to incorporate these Vitamin C all-stars when stressed.
Avocados are delicious sliced into salads and sandwiches, mashed into guacamole, or blended into smoothies. They include omega-3 fatty acids which offer the same stress-fighting benefits as fatty fish. Additionally, avocados offer dietary fiber and phytochemicals which may additionally be beneficial against inflammation and chronic diseases.
10. Eggs Whole eggs are rich in a nutrient called choline, which has been shown to be important in brain health and may protect against stress. Fatty fish such as salmon is also a great source of choline. Animal studies have shown that choline supplements may aid stress response and boost mood, however more research is needed in regards to choline supplementation in humans for stress-relief.
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