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8 Foods That Ease PMS Symptoms

Depression. Bloating. Breakouts. Ugh. The side effects of PMS are just plain awful!

If these or other nasty symptoms make you dread Mother Nature's monthly visit, you're not alone. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, more than 85 percent of women experience at least one uncomfortable premenstrual syndrome side effect.

The good news is, you don't have to live in misery or pop a pill to get relief every time your period comes around. Instead, take a walk to your kitchen (somewhere you were likely heading anyways, let's be honest) and whip up some symptom-slashing snacks. Believe it or not, there are a number of commonly-consumed foods rich in nutrients that help your body fight back against the wrath of your out-of-control hormones.

Can't Keep Your Hand Out of the Chip Bag?

Pop some pumpkin seeds

If you're cranky and seem to snap at the drop of a hat in the weeks leading up to your period, we can't say we blame you. PMSing is never a good time! The good news is, you get through Mother Nature's visit without making your man wish he never put a ring on it. How? By munching on pumpkin seeds. The tiny yet powerful seeds may be able to ease your symptoms (and are likely the answer to your roommate's prayers). Just one ounce of the seeds serves up 75 percent of your day's magnesium which can make you nicer and ward off water retention (it's a win-win!). The nutrient can also help relax your blood vessels, nixing painful PMS headaches, too. Mix pumpkin seeds into your salads and veggie side dishes for a touch of crunch and some much-needed PMS relief.

Dreaming of Daiquiris?

Debloat with dressed up melon

Having a hard time buttoning those skinny jeans that just fit a couple days ago? Breathe easy: you didn't gain weight! In the days leading up to your period, your body begins storing sodium and fluids. Instead of trading in your favorite pants for sweats and leggings, try munching on honeydew melon to de-bloat. Research suggests the fruit contains a compound called Cucumis melo, a diuretic that helps flush excess fluid from the body. That sugar and alcohol-filled daiquiri you're craving, however, does the opposite. The bottom line? Skip the fruity cocktail and stick with the fruit if you want to zip up your pants.

Instead of noshing on the fruit plain (boring!), make a mint, cilantro and melon salad. Here's how: Combine chunks of honeydew, fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro, mint and a touch of sugar in a bowl. Mix together and scarf it down.

Dreaming of Death by Chocolate?

Open up a can of beans (hear us out)

Before we even get into their benefits, you should know this is leading to a brownie recipe. Beans are a magnesium–rich food that helps boost serotonin levels and diminish water retention. When choosing a can to prepare, stick with no salt-added varieties. Sodium can make your body hold onto water, undermining the bean's bloat-busting effects. Bonus: These small but mighty seeds are antioxidant-rich and loaded with other good-for-you nutrients like iron, fiber, copper, zinc and potassium. Add beans to salads, soups, or whole-grain pastas and rice dishes. Craving something more indulgent? Here it is, folks, the healthy bean brownies we promised: Blend 15 ounces of black beans and 1 cup of water together in a blender. Combine with a package of organic brownie mix and combine until smooth. Bake in a greased baking dish for 25 minutes on 350 degrees F.

Craving Movies and Popcorn?

We give you permission to indulge

Yes, you just read that right! Popcorn is a powerful PMS fighter for the same same reason Ezekiel bread is beneficial– it's a whole grain that boosts the production of serotonin. Stick to unsalted varieties like Newman's Own Organics Unsalted Pop's Corn to keep salt-induced bloating at bay while simultaneously improving your mood. So go ahead, pop a fresh bag and turn on Netflix. If there's any time you get a free pass to binge-watch Scandal guilt-free, it's this week. Just pass on the red wine.

About to Down That Whole Sleeve of Cookies?

Toast up a piece of bread

If every month, like clockwork, you get wild cravings for cookies and as emotional as you did the first time you watched The Notebook, you're not alone. The tears are flowing and your appetite is going wild because your serotonin (the mood-boosting, feel-good hormone) levels have dipped. Carb-rich foods (like those cookies calling you like a siren song) help to increase the amount of the hormone in your system. That's why those cravings are so hard to say no to— your body is hunting for a hormonal overhaul. Instead of caving to your inner Cookie Monster, turn to a healthy source of complex carbs like whole grain bread. The raisins in the Ezekiel 4:9 Cinnamon Raisin Sprouted Whole Grain Bread provide natural sweetness to nip your sugar craving in the bud while the vitamin B6 and manganese-rich whole grains help boost your mood. Toast up a slice as a mid-morning mood-boosting snack.

Drowning Your Depression in Donuts?

Fight the blues with a bit of yellow instead

If during Mother Nature's monthly visit you typically feel so blue you want nothing more than to lie in a dark bedroom, we may have the cure you've been looking for: saffron. A British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology study found that consuming the yellow-hued spice can significantly reduce PMS symptoms including feelings of depression. How? The spice increases serotonin levels, which typically drop before menstruation. Although saffron is one of the most expensive spices, a little of it goes a long way. Use it to whip up African, Middle Eastern, and European-inspired dishes and reap the PMS-busting benefits. The only caveat? You'll need to crawl out of bed to do your cooking, or cajole your significant other into whipping up dinner (just promise them you'll do the dishes).

Sporting a Stubborn Craving for Chunky Monkey?

Make a healthy variety at home

In the weeks leading up to your period you do you speak without your edit button or turn into Cruella Deville? If you said yes, that's totally okay. Luckily for you, if you're looking to reel it in a bit, we have a sweet suggestion: banana ice cream. A 2010 study of nearly 3,000 women published in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology found that consuming calcium-rich dairy products with added vitamin D can lower the risk for nasty PMS symptoms by as much as 40 percent. Vitamin-D fortified milk fits the nutritional bill. Although you may typically reach for skim milk because it's the lowest in calories, vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means you won't get all the benefits unless you opt for a varieties with a bit of fat. Pour some into your morning oatmeal to reap the benefits all day long. Or if you're craving some Ben & Jerry's try making our Banana Milk, a healthy spin on their classic Chunky Monkey (fudge chunks and walnuts not included, sorry). Simply blend a ripe banana with a half-teaspoon of vanilla and a cup of milk, pour in a cup and guzzle it down. Bonus: bananas help fight PMS-bloat.

Do You Self-soothe with Chocolate?

Try chia seeds instead

Heidi Montag is downright terrifying, so it's really no surprise that L.C. spent the majority of her time on The Hills crying her eyes out. If you blubber and bawl half as much as she did on air while you have your period, you're in serious need of a nutritional fix. Adding some omega-3s to your plate may just do the trick. Researchers think the nutrient may function like an antidepressant, although they aren't sure exactly which mechanisms are involved quite yet. Some researchers believe the nutrient makes it easier for serotonin to pass through the cell membranes; in turn, making the effects of serotonin more powerful. While omega-3 can be found in salmon, enriched eggs, and grass-fed beef, we like chia seeds because they are portable and easy to pop into just about anything. Add the small, but mighty seed into cereal, smoothies, and homemade baked goods to boost your intake and keep menstrual blues at bay.

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