Stressed Out? Snack on These Superfoods!
The student life can be a mixture of a lot of fun and a lot of stress. All of a sudden you have to go up a gear to produce top quality work in large quantities. Another way in which people handle this stress is by turning to unhealthy foods. Chips and dip may be your go-to snack when you’re on a tight deadline with that report at work or your English essay, but when it comes to battling stress, choosing to eat healthy can actually relieve some of the tension. Some superfoods may even stabilize your blood sugar and help your emotional response to stress.
Here are 12 super foods to keep on hand when you’re about to crack:
Cashews: Nuts provide you with zinc, a mineral that may help reduce anxiety. Zinc affects the levels of a nerve chemical that influences mood. In a study by Nutrition and Metabolic Insights, 31% of patients that were diagnosed with anxiety symptoms and low zinc levels saw a decrease in their anxiety when they consumed more zinc.
Avocado: This super fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!) fills you up and leaves you feeling satisfied, leaving no room for unhealthy stress eating. In a 2014 study done by Loma Linda University, patients were asked to add half an avocado to their sandwiches – this reduced their desire to eat by more by 40%.
Seeds: From sunflower seeds to flaxseeds, these super foods offer a great amount of magnesium, which may help regulate emotions like fatigue and irritability. For women, some studies have also shown magnesium to fight PMS symptoms like cramps and water retention.
Milk: As most of us know, milk is an excellent source of Vitamin D, which has been found to enhance mood. A study done by the UCL Institute of Child Health in London found a link between reduced levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of panic and depression among almost 6,000 men and women. Those with sufficient vitamin D levels had a reduced risk of panic disorders and depression. Drink up!
Dark Chocolate: Who doesn’t love to snack on chocolate? Keyword – SNACK! Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD explains, “Research has shown that dark chocolate can reduce your stress hormones. Antioxidants in cocoa trigger the walls of your blood vessels to relax, lowing blood pressure an improving circulation. Dark chocolate also contains a unique natural substance that creates a sense of euphoria similar to the feeling of being in love!” But remember, just a bite – not the entire bar!
Pistachios: The feeling of cracking open a pistachio shell to get to the actual pistachio inside might actually distract you enough to lower your stress rate and curb your appetite. Heather Mangieri, RDN, states, “Eating pistachios may reduce acute stress by lowing blood pressure and heart rate. The nuts contain key phytonutrients that may provide antioxidant support for cardiovascular health.”
Blueberries: Blueberries contain antioxidants and phytonutrients which, as research shows, can improve your body’s response to stress. According to Cynthia Sass, MRH, RD, contributing nutrition editor for Health, “Blueberry eaters experience a boost in natural killer cells – a type of white blood cell that plays a vital role in immunity, critical for countering stress.”
Salmon: Lisa Cimperman, RD, says, “The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon have anti-inflammatory properties that may help counteract the negative effects of stress hormones.” In a study by the National Institute of Health, medical students who took omega-3 supplements had 20% reduction in anxiety as compared to those who didn’t.
Yogurt: Yogurt is full of calcium, protein and probiotics, which can fight off bacteria in your gut that may contribute to stress. A 2013 study by UCLA revealed that consuming probiotics in yogurt reduced the particular brain activity that controls emotion.
Oatmeal: According to MIT research, carbs can help the brain make serotonin, the substance regulated by antidepressants. Your blood sugar levels may rise when you’re stressed out, but oatmeal is a complex carb, which won’t contribute to a heightened blood sugar level.
Cruciferous Vegetables: In a 2012 study in the Journal of Affective Disorders, results showed that those who consumed the most folate had a lower risk of depression symptoms than those who consumed less. In another study in 2013 study by the University of Otago, college students felt calmer, happier and more energetic on days they ate more fruits and vegetables.
Turkey Breast: The amino acid found in foods that contain protein, like turkey, produces serotonin, the chemical that regulates hunger and feelings of happiness. In a 2006 study published by the Journal of Psychiatry Neuroscience, men and women who took supplements for 15 days were perceived as more agreeable by their study partners at the end of the two week study.