Did you know over 8.3 million American adults suffer from anxiety today? This is roughly 4% of the entire population.
The fact is alarming, especially when America is regarded as the most advanced and successful of all nations in the world.
Modern day life is all about urgency, multitasking and automation. We work 24/7 - 365, so it’s natural to get bogged down with endless to-do lists.
This results in minimal time for leisure and relaxing activities - stress then becomes inevitable!
Stress is harmful because it often leads to poor lifestyle decisions - which lead to health complications.
While it’s difficult to live a completely stress-free life, we can certainly minimize stress by making small changes to our diet and living pattern.
Here is a list of the top foods that help in fighting stress. For best results, add these foods to your diet as well as other healthy habits (such as regular exercise and a focus on getting quality sleep).
Cocoa is a rich source of antioxidants. Chocolate is nutrient dense and contains most of the essential minerals. A serving of dark chocolate contains important minerals such as copper, magnesium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus.
A study that was presented in April this year, pointed that eating dark chocolate with higher cocoa levels (70% or so) had an encouraging affect on stress levels, inflammation, general mood, and state of mind.
Dark chocolate also contains Flavonoids, which are natural flora pigments found in veggies and fruits. These colorful antioxidants bring a myriad of health benefits.
As if that wasn't enough information on the benefits of chocolate, author Rolf Dobelli in his recent publication ‘The Art of Good Life’ said, "a piece of chocolate is a sheer means of instant bliss".
We can all agree with that statement!
Before we move on to the next food, I wanted to mention that the type of chocolate you eat is important. To get the benefits of chocolate, you need to be eating dark chocolate (over 70% cacao). Stay away from sugary, mass produced milk chocolate bars (I'm looking at you Hershey). Get the good stuff!
Nuts and dry fruits are extremely healthful. Pistachios in particular are high in protein, vitamin B6, phosphorus and other essential nutrients.
A serving of Pistachios contain 6 grams of proteins, 137 mg of phosphorus and 0.4 mg of vitamin B6. This aids in fulfilling the daily recommended dose of these nutrients.
A Penn State study in 2014 said, Pistachios are great in terms of supporting your heart health. With a high healthy fat content, along with fiber and antioxidants, Pistachios work wonderfully to keep you relaxed during times of stress and nervousness.
Pistachios are very versatile - of you don't like eating them raw, they can be added to baked foods and other recipes.
Have you ever tried Broad Bean, Feta and Pistachio Dip? Try this recipe this weekend. You’ll love it.
Don’t be surprised to see of Salmon - it's included on just about every list of the best health foods. It's known for it's high omega-3 content, an important fatty acid.
Ohio State University researchers said 2.5g of omega-3s (or taking 12-15 ounces of salmon) can bring down stress levels by over 20%.
Loaded with selenium, vitamin B, proteins and omega 3 fatty acids, salmon is highly beneficial for brain and heart health.
Before actually pointing to any study, I should note that we all know that fruits and vegetables are good for our bodies. But did you know that they are good for your brain as well?
Veggies and fruits are rich in vitamins and fiber. Our body needs 30-40 grams of fiber every day. Most veggies contain approximately 5 grams of fiber, which means you'll need about 6-8 servings every single day.
By adding more of fruits and greens we help our gut and digestive system to stay healthy. Absence of constipation and cramping ensures we stay happy and cheerful throughout the day.
If you struggle with getting enough fiber in your diet, check our our Fiber Food supplement. It's a daily fiber drink mix made with organic fruits and vegetables. It's easy to mix and tastes great!
Veggies also contain Folate which produces Dopamine, a brain chemical that keeps our mind calm and relaxed.
Avocado is one of the most nutrient dense (and delicious) fruits on this planet. And yes, avocado is a fruit!
Avocados have an interesting side benefit. Eating avocados makes us feel full, which reduces the urge to overeat.
When we are stressed, we tend to eat more and resort to all sorts of binge eating. Including avocados in our diet helps to ensure that we refrain from poor eating patterns.
In turn, weight gain is kept to a minimum.
Avocados are highly beneficial. They have high levels of folate which improves brain and heart health. As it is, our diet is incomplete without fruits. Why not add avocados or replace some fruits to see the difference?
Ground oats, instant oats, steel-cut, porridge and other oatmeals make for a perfect breakfast and evening snack.
Oatmeal has a good concentration of minerals like magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorus and others. Not only do these nutrients help to keep our weight under control but provide us with day long energy and strength to handle everyday chores.
Oatmeal triggers the production of serotonin, a chemical which helps to stay calm and tension free.
There are plenty of other foods that are equally effective in limiting stress. However, foods alone can’t make a difference. These have to be paired with other healthy habits.
Fitness, social interaction and relationships, reading, time in nature, music, shopping - all these are emphasized time and again in research on happiness.
So make sure to eat a balanced diet while also living a balanced life.
I'll conclude with the famous quote "It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it".
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