April 12, 2013
When the stress sets in, it is easy to reach for salty snacks and comforting sweets like cookies and ice cream. But healthier foods are a better choice. That’s because an overall balanced diet has the ability to improve mood, strengthen the immune system and reduce blood pressure—all actions that can reduce stress. Here are some smart food picks to help you lower your stress level:
Get Your C’s – Foods high in Vitamin C such as oranges, tangerines and other citrus fruits can help boost immune function and lower stress hormone levels. Other not-so-obvious foods containing Vitamin C include red bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, kale and cauliflower. Eat the rainbow and “C” how it helps to lessen your stress!
Be Complex – Whole grains—like brown rice, oatmeal, air-popped popcorn, 100% whole wheat bread or English muffins—as well as vegetables and fruits contain complex carbohydrates, which may help the brain increase production of serotonin. Because serotonin aids in mood regulation, you could feel more upbeat when eating your grains and greens!
Tea Time – Certain teas, including peppermint and chamomile, are frequently consumed for their calming effect and for relieving symptoms of stress, like insomnia and stomach disorders. During cooler weather or closer to bedtime, they are also a nice, warming comfort.
Go Fish and Go Nuts! – Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the flow of stress hormones and protect against depression. Foods rich in Omega-3’s include fatty fish (such as salmon and mackerel) and nuts (like almonds, pistachios and walnuts). Remember to watch your portions: a serving of almonds is 24, pistachios is 49 and walnuts is 14 halves. Delicious foods that make you feel more positive?! That should immediately improve your outlook!
For tips to reduce stress when shopping and planning for healthy meals, visit TNhealthandwellness.com. Click the “Tri-Cities Edition” tab to read my April is Stress Awareness Month: Grocery Shopping Solutions article.
- Audrey Kessler, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian for Food City. Contact Audrey at RD@foodcity.com.
Huso D. Fight Stress with Food? Yes, Really! Today’s Dietitian. Available at: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/healthandnutrition/health/fight-stress-with-food.shtml. Accessed March 24, 2013.
UCLA Center for East-West Medicine. Eat Right, Drink Well, Stress Less: Stress-Reducing Foods, Herbal Supplements and Teas. Available at: http://exploreim.ucla.edu/nutrition/eat-right-drink-well-stress-less-stress-reducing-foods-herbal-supplements-and-teas/. Accessed March 3, 2013.