Mood and Food Part 2: Calmness and Stress
Feeling happier but still a little anxious or stressed out? Between work, family, and the chaos of everyday life, we could all use more feelings of calm and relaxation. As it turns out, according to new research, these feelings are only a trip to the grocery store away.
Next time instead of reaching for that pint of Haagen Dasz, opt for these 6 foods instead...
Kale, Almond Butter, and Sesame Seeds
What these 3 foods surprisingly have in common is that they are high in calcium (that’s right, it’s not just dairy products that have high levels of calcium). Other non-obvious foods that are good sources of calcium? Oranges, quinoa, and broccoli.
Calcium has been shown to make you feel calmer when you feel anxious and stressed out.
Tip: Check out these 3 recipes for kale chips: baked kale chips, smoky kale chips, kale chips with chile and lime. Replace your peanut butter with almond butter, or sprinkle some sesame seeds on your salad at lunch!
Spinach has a number of minerals that help ward off anxiety. In fact, The National Association of Nutrition Professionals suggests that people with anxiety could benefit by incorporating more spinach into their diet.
Spinach has high levels of magnesium, a mineral with both relaxing and calming effects. Magnesium is especially beneficial for women – it has been shown to bolster their capacity to handle and overcome stress, curb symptoms of PMS, and aid in better sleep.
Spinach is also high in folic acid, a B vitamin strongly linked with preventing depression and reducing fatigue.
Tip: Toss in your salad. Or sauté in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil and lemon juice!
Green Tea and Chocolate (perhaps surprisingly!)
For your caffeine boost, reach for green tea instead. It won’t give you the jitters like coffee, but it will work as an anti-inflammatory to reduce any tension or anxiety. Studies have also shown that two cups a day may reduce your risk of certain cancers.
Last but not least, the good stuff! Feeling anxious or stressed out? Recent research shows eating dark chocolate can help reduce the hormones associated with stress, especially for those with high anxiety. In one study, participants who ate 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate a day for two weeks had reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the “fight-or-flight” hormones known as catecholamines.
No complaints here! The catch? You need dark chocolate with 70% or more pure cocoa to reap the benefits of the compounds responsible for reducing inflammation, stress, and anxiety. Chocolate with less than 70% also has additional sugar that will counteract the benefits and likely make you feel more anxious rather than calm. And try to avoid chocolate with artificial flavors, which can have negative effects on your mood.
Tip: For an easy green tea solution on the go, try bottled iced tea. My absolute favorite is Honest Moroccan Mint Green Tea (sweetened only with a touch of honey rather than sugar). As for chocolate, my favorite is TCHO “Chocolatey” with the required 70% cacoa and no artificial flavors!
Stay tuned for Mood and Food Part 3: Foods to Avoid...