7 Best Stress-Beater Foods

November 11, 2020   |   Leave a comment   |   4

On any given day many of us experience our fair share of stress. Not only does this stress make us feel emotionally unsettled, it also causes our bodies to react by releasing stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) into the blood. These hormones prepare our body for the “fight or flight” response by making our heartbeat faster and constricting blood vessels to get more blood to our extremities.

Now, this reaction does raise blood pressure. But only temporarily. When the stressor (hungry bear that is chasing us) goes away, our body returns to normal and our heart rate and blood pressure decreases.

The problem with modern life is, we now deal with stress 24/7. And that means our body is constantly trying to help us deal with this stress, which means our heart rates and blood pressure remain elevated for far longer than the body was designed to handle.

How to Handle Stress to Decrease Your Blood Pressure

While we may not be able to completely remove the stressors in our life – though how many of us fantasize about winning the lottery and telling our boss off – there are some things we can do to help our bodies deal with stress.

Of course, exercise and meditation are two of the most common ways we can aid our body in dealing with stress. But did you know that what you eat plays a big factor in how your body copes with the “fight or flight” reaction?

Here are 7 foods that have natural stress-relieving properties:

1. Matcha Powder

You’ve most likely seen this vibrant green tea powder before and wondered just what the heck it was. Matcha is very popular among health enthusiasts for a few different reasons, one being it is an excellent source of L-theanine, a non-protein amino acid with powerful stress-relieving properties.

Both human and animal studies have shown that matcha may reduce stress if its L-theanine content is high enough and its caffeine is low. So if you are a fan of green teas, this one can’t be beat.

2. Swiss Chard 

We all know by now that leafy green vegetables are good for us because they provide tons of beneficial nutrients. When it comes to fighting stress, swiss chard is king because it offers 36% of the recommended intake of magnesium. Low levels of magnesium are linked to conditions like anxiety and panic attacks. Also worth mentioning is that chronic stress depletes your body’s magnesium stores, so it’s a vicious cycle. But Swiss chard can help you get your body back on track.

3. Kimchi 

Kimchi is a Korean fermented vegetable dish that is made with nappa cabbage and daikon, a type of radish. Fermented foods like kimchi are loaded with beneficial bacteria.

Research has found that fermented foods may help reduce the effects of stress on the body. For instance, one study of 710 young adults who ate fermented foods more frequently experienced fewer symptoms of social anxiety. Numerous studies have now shown that adding probiotics, or good bacteria, to your diet improves gut health, and that directly impacts your mood and stress levels.

4. Artichokes

So if you are eating kimchi or other fermented foods you are getting plenty of good bacteria in your gut. But what will these probiotics eat?

That’s where prebiotics come in. Prebiotics are a type of fiber that is undigestible for humans and so makes its way to your large intestine where it feeds the friendly bacteria.

It just so happens that artichokes are a rich source of prebiotic fiber. One study found that the prebiotics found in artichokes may help reduce stress levels. Other studies have found that people who ate 5 or more grams of prebiotics per day experienced reduced anxiety and depression symptoms.

5. Organ Meats

Organ meats such as the liver, kidneys and heart of animals like cows and chickens are excellent sources of B vitamins, particularly B12, B6, folate and riboflavin, which are all essential for stress control. For instance, B vitamins are needed in the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, both of which help to regulate mood.

6. Eggs 

Once vilified, eggs are now understood to be a superfood because they boast an impressive nutrient profile. Whole eggs, yes, even the yolk (that’s the most nutritious part!), are loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants needed for a healthy stress response.

Whole eggs are rich in a nutrient called choline, which is found in large amounts in only a few foods. Choline has been shown to play an important role in brain health and protect against stress.

7. Shellfish

Shellfish, which includes clams, oysters and mussels, are high in amino acids like taurine. Taurine has been studied for its potential mood-boosting properties. This important amino acid is necessary in the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine, which are essential for regulating stress response. Some studies even suggest taurine may have antidepressant effects.

If you are one of those people that tends to reach for unhealthy comfort foods in an effort to deal with daily stress, it’s time to make healthier choices. By including one or more of these 7 foods into your diet, you can begin to reduce the effects of stress on your body, thereby decreasing your chances of developing hypertension.

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