The stress you feel in your mind may be a significant contributor to the stress you feel at your beltline. When you find yourself stuck in hair-pulling situations, your body produces the stress hormone cortisol, which causes your blood sugar to drop and your fatty food cravings to kick in. Instead of reaching for a pint of rocky road ice cream or a steamy bowl of macaroni and cheese, stock up on our go-to, stress-relieving healthy staples below.
These essential foods will help you calm down and refocus so that you can continue your day slim and stress-free. And if you want healthy recipes, supermarket shopping guides, and essential nutrition tips at your fingertips subscribe to the new Eat This, Not That! magazine now! For a limited time, you can save 50 percent off the cover price—click here!
Breaking off a Kit-Kat bar may help dissolve your tension and anxiety for a few transient minutes but biting into 70-percent dark chocolate may have more long-lasting and relaxing effects. A study in the Journal of Proteome Research found that highly-stressed people who indulged in just an ounce and a half of dark chocolate daily for two consecutive weeks reduced their stress hormone levels. What's more, another International Journal of Health Sciences study discovered that both dark and milk chocolates helped alleviate stress in students—especially females. Researchers suspect that these relaxing effects are due to the cocoa's flavonoids, antioxidants that minimize oxidative stress as well as provide cardioprotective benefits.
Due to their high vitamin C content, strawberries make for a potent stress-busting snack. A study in the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences found that, after supplementing students in the study with vitamin C for two weeks, participants showed reduced anxiety, leading researchers to believe that a diet rich in vitamin C can help treat anxiety and improve academic performance. Just one cup of sliced strawberries come loaded with about 98 milligrams of the water-soluble vitamin—that's over 100 percent of your daily recommended value!
Add the ruby-hued berries to hearty salads, blend into smoothies, or dip into nut butter for a delicious and nutritious mini-meal.
Wild salmon has a major advantage over its farmed counterpart: It's loaded with significantly more omega-3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats that boast cardioprotective benefits (adios, heart disease!) as well as help fight inflammation and nourish your skin. In fact, a study in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that students who supplemented their diet with these healing fats experienced 20 percent fewer anxiety symptoms and 14 percent less inflammation than the control group.
To help nix stress in the bud, marinate wild salmon steak with a mixture of mustard, rosemary, capers, and white wine and bake until done. Pair it with a hunger-busting whole-grain, such as quinoa or Kamut, for an easy dinner that'll keep anxiety at bay. Want more winning suppers? Try your hand at these 20 Quick & Easy Dinner Recipes.