Daily life isn’t without its stress: whether you’re a high school student or a thirty-something working away at a nine-to-five, you’ll encounter some form of stress on a daily basis.
Stress affects us all differently: some turn to junk food (with nearly 40 percent of Americans admitting that they stress-eat unhealthy foods); others simply don’t eat. Both options are unhealthy, but all the junk food can add up, culminating in dangerous fat.
Stress also has adverse effects on both your body and your mind, and too much stress can result in things like high blood pressure, heart disease, and impaired memory.
You can combat the effects of stress through massage, regular exercise, and pin-pointing the source, but certain foods also have the ability to alleviate stress.
Below is a list of 10 of the best superfoods for stress relief.
1. Green tea
Green tea contains powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols, flavonoids and catechins. These antioxidants can have a calming effect on the body, reducing stress levels. It also contains theanine, which promotes relaxation and improves both attention and focus.
The great thing about this powerful, antioxidant-rich berry is that it has a variety of uses. You can eat them fresh from the container or you can add them into things like oatmeal (which is another stress reducer) and cereal.
Blueberries get their blue color from anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that aid in the production of dopamine, a chemical is crucial to balancing your mood, memory function, and coordination.
According to an article from TIME magazine, those who consume blueberries experience a boost in natural killer cells, which is a type of white blood cell key in immunity and fighting stress.
Maybe your parents were onto something when they made you drink milk every night at dinner: besides boosting your calcium, milk can also lower your stress level.
Along with the calcium and protein, one glass of milk gives you vitamins A and D. All of these nutrients can help reduce your stress level and help fight free radicals that are released into the body when you become stressed.
Oranges contain vitamin C, which is known for its ability to help lower blood pressure and cortisol, the stress hormone. Eat an orange or drink a glass of orange juice with your breakfast in the morning, but make sure you’re getting a juice that contains the most percentage of the fruit itself.
5. Dark chocolate
What doesn’t dark chocolate do? This bittersweet version of the favorite treat of many people contains magnesium, a component that can help combat stress, depression, fatigue, and irritability.
Rich in vitamins B2 and E, almonds are a powerful little snack that comes in handier than you might think. Munching on just a handful of these a day has great benefits for your health: vitamins B2 and E can help bolster the immune system in times of stress.
In addition they also provide magnesium, zinc, selenium, and healthy oils which can also help in stress reduction. And with the variety of ways you can use almonds—almond butter, baked into sweets, raw or roasted—this should be a treat efficient for even the busiest of people.
Salmon is popularized for its omega-3 fatty acids, which can help boost brain chemicals like serotonin, as well as reducing stress levels. A study done in Brain Behavior and Immunity showed a 20 percent increase in brain function in those consuming salmon.
Past studies have also shown that omega-3 acids can also work as a natural antidepressant, by-passing all the side-effects of medicinal antidepressants.
Dark green vegetables are rich in vitamins A, B, and C, as well as minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Spinach is also rich in folate, which helps your body produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters.
A study showed that two servings of pistachios a day helped lower vascular restriction during stress, which in turn lowers the stress on your heart. You may also find the repetitive motion of shelling pistachios as therapeutic as routine activity can help quiet racing thoughts.
Avocados contain minerals, protein, and vitamins C and E. They are also high in potassium, fiber, and healthy fats. According to the Nutrition Journal, eating one-half of an avocado at lunch may help satiate you if you’re overweight, preventing any over-eating or unnecessary snacking.
Those who ate the one-half avocado reported being over 40 percent less hungry three hours later than those who had not. The study also found that avocados may be helpful in regulating blood sugar levels.
As with many other superfoods on our list, the ways to consume avocado are plentiful: you can make guacamole, cut the meat into halves for a sandwich or burger, or use it as a topping on whole-wheat crackers. It is recommended that, for best results, you eat fresh avocado.