6 foods that will help you beat stress
We know you’re stressed out these days. To help calm your nerves, we’ve identified six anxiety-busting superfoods that will help you beat stress
How food affects stress
While it's tempting to reach for sweet comfort foods in stressful times, eating a chocolate chip cookie or brownie can actually exacerbate your anxiety. Sugary foods cause your blood sugar to spike, impairing the ability of your adrenal glands to control stress.
However, there are foods that can help to quell your nerves and lift your mood. Here, Toronto-based naturopath Diane C. Chung shares six top foods that can calm your stress, naturally.
1. Sweet potatoes
"Sweet potatoes are an excellent complex carbohydrate with a high level of tryptophan [an essential amino acid] that converts into serotonin-the feel-good hormone of the brain," says Chung. They are also high in beta carotene, which boosts immunity when stress is high, and fibre, which helps stabilize surges in blood sugar caused by acute stress.
2. Black beans
"Black beans are teeming with magnesium and other minerals that promote muscle relaxation and lower blood pressure," explains Chung. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant and stress buster. Having a low magnesium level may result in headaches and cramps, and can aggravate an already anxious state. "[Black beans] are also rich in fibre and protein, which stabilize blood sugar," says Chung.
Asparagus contains high levels of B6 and folic acid, both of which help boost levels of dopamine-a substance that acts as a natural relaxant on the brain. "Both of these vitamins are also crucial in healthy immune and nervous system functioning," Chung says.
According to Chung, nuts-particularly walnuts and almonds-are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that naturally decrease the stress hormones cortisol, which is secreted by our bodies when we're under stress, and adrenaline, which stimulates heart rate, and dilates blood vessels and air passages. Nuts are also naturally high in vitamin B, which supplies the body with serotonin-producing carbohydrates. They are also a source of protein, which stabilizes blood sugar levels.
"Yogurt is high in calcium and magnesium-minerals that help relax muscles and lower blood pressure," explains Chung. ìIt's also well known for being rich with good bacteria [acidophilus], to help stabilize and soothe nervous digestive systems resulting from stress."
This breakfast food is packed with fibre, B-vitamins and magnesium, all of which lower blood pressure, nourish the nerves, brain and adrenal glands, and stabilize mood by providing a surge of serotonin, Chung explains.