You might respond to stress by eating more, eating less, or eating the same but poorly. Next time you’re feeling stressed, try to incorporate these foods, and see how they make you feel!
1. Avocados. Incidentally very low in pesticides, these creamy beauties are a great source for good fats as well as a good source for fighting stress. Avocados are high in vitamin E, folate, and glutathione, an antioxidant. Good advice is sticking to smaller amounts because they do contain a lot of calories, but throw 1/4 of an avocado into a sandwich or a salad and you’re golden. Or in this case, green.
2. Asparagus. Springtime isn’t the only time to eat asparagus. This lovely vegetable is high in antioxidants, vitamin B, and tryptophan, an essential amino acid in making serotonin, which helps elevate your mood. Try steaming some and using them to replace an English muffin with your Eggs Benedict. Seriously, try it.
3. Salmon. This fish is loaded with good things to calm a stressed-out soul. The omega fatty acids it contains help decrease inflammation, which will help your brain work better and ultimately help you cope. Salmon also contains vitamin D, tryptophan (see ‘Asparagus’), and selenium, which aids in immune system function (but should be ingested in foods only and not in supplements as high doses may be harmful). Try salmon grilled to medium-rare – if you buy good quality salmon you don’t have to cook it all the way through, and medium-rare will help preserve more of the important proteins and nutrients in the fish.
4. Coconut water. All the hype over coconut water might have some reason for being. This great fruit produces water that is high in electrolytes, magnesium, and is full of healthful things such as plant hormones, enzymes, and amino acids. Studies have shown that coconut water can lower high blood pressure, and is great for re-hydrating after a workout. Be sure to buy coconut water that is not sweetened with added sugar, and contains no added preservatives or flavours.
5. Eggs. Feared by many as artery-clogging, these gifts of nature have actually been proven to do nothing bad for your heart. In fact, their stress-lowering benefits probably help more than anything. Eggs contain large amounts of minerals, good fats, and both vitamins D and B-12, which can help to elevate your mood. See above suggestion (under ‘Asparagus’) for a yummy Eggs Benny.
6. Berries. These super-fruits contain tons of anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that protect against several stress-related diseases and can help with cognition. In addition, berries are high in vitamin C, which helps lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. Try frozen berries in the summer instead of popsicles, or throw some into a bowl of steel-cut oats.
By Richard Lobbenberg, Acupuncturist and TCM Practitioner