Tuesday 18 April 2017

5 Stress-Busting Foods

Too often, when we’re buried under a ton of work and personal commitments, we find ourselves binging on comfort food to feel better or de-stress. This is why the term “stress eating” was coined. We’re not literally eating stress, but more like we eat to shoo the stress away or replace stress with yummy treats. Unfortunately, we tend to choose the greasiest, most unhealthy food we can find - fast food, carbs, or junk food packed with preservatives. As a result, the euphoria is fleetingly followed by a sugar crash or worse, emotional instability.

To help ease the stress without taking a hit on health, here are 5 stress-busting foods you can binge on without adverse health effects.

There’s a reason why vampires hate garlic. Those blood-sucking, energy-draining vamps might are likely embodiments of what stress feels like. So it makes sense that myth makes them deathly afraid of garlic. One of garlic’s magical properties is probiotics. Artichokes, onions, and garlic contain probiotics said to improve sleep and relieve stress. Studies show that probiotics, also known as the good bacteria, and prebiotics or the food for probiotics which are both present in garlic can help you sleep better and mitigate the effects of stress.

Nuts are generally healthier options for snacks because they’re a good source of protein and nutrients. Some nuts are better than others though. For instance, cashew stands out from all other nuts because it contains tryptophan, an amino acid which is responsible for the production and absorption of serotonin. As you know, the presence of serotonin in our system lowers our anxiety and stress levels. Cashew is a great source of this amino acid because it contains 1000-2000 milligrams per 1/4 cup serving. Other sources of tryptophan are bananas, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sweet potatoes.

Tea—just the sound of it can be calming. Instead of getting another cup of coffee, opt for some soothing tea. Specifically, peppermint tea helps reduce stress and anxiety primarily because peppermint contains natural muscle relaxant. So if you’re feeling high-strung and agitated, get yourself a cup of peppermint tea. Sprinkle some cheap and edible flowers for added colour, flavour, and aroma.

Chamomile tea is another relaxing option. This is especially helpful when you’re tossing and turning at night, unable to sleep because you’re stressing over work and personal stuff. Among chamomile tea’s many benefits include reducing stress, alleviating anxiety, treating insomnia, relaxing the muscles, and reducing irritability.

Yes, chocolate is a stress-busting food, but you already know that. Just thinking about chocolate can instantly lift our mood. This is why most comfort foods are based on chocolate—chocolate cake, chocolate drink, chocolate bar etc. So go ahead and indulge in some chocolate, preferably the dark variety. Dark chocolate is deemed healthier because of the generous presence of cacao. Cacao flavanols (CF), according to various studies, improve cognitive function and reduces mental fatigue.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, spinach is rich in folate, iron, fibre, magnesium, calcium and vitamin C. That’s a lot of nutrients packed in this leafy, green veggie. Folate, specifically, aides the production of dopamine which is a brain chemical responsible for calm and happy thoughts. Now you know why Popeye loves his spinach.

So the next time you’re weighed down by physical and emotional stress, these 5 healthier options are your saviours. Just try not to go overboard, especially with your chocolates. As they say, “too much of something is bad.”

Jada x