15 Healthy Foods that Help Reduce Stress (& What to Avoid)

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Inside: Chronic stress can wreak havoc on the body, read on to discover 15 healthy foods that help reduce stress from registered dietitians and founders of Nourished Routes, LLC.


While occasional stress is normal and even healthy, chronic stress can wreak havoc on the body, and may even lead to long-term issues such as depression, heart disease, and more.

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    Stress is caused by the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for a number of functions in the body such as sleep, blood pressure regulation, inflammation control. It also manages how carbs, fat, and protein are used and stored in the body.

    15 HEALTHY FOODS THAT HELP REDUCE STRESS

    A balance of cortisol is preferable over excessive or diminished cortisol levels. Research shows that some foods and beverages naturally stabilize cortisol levels, or have nutrients like vitamins and minerals that influence cortisol. Here are 15 Healthy Foods that Help Reduce Stress:

    15 Healthy Foods that Help Reduce Stress

    On April 27th, 2021, Allison Tallman, registered dietitian and co-founder of Nourished Routes, LLC. will host a live webinar with guest speaker, therapist Anna Cohen, MSW.

    During this webinar, you’ll learn how to manage your stress through nutrition and daily stress management techniques! This is great for any readers who would like to learn how to combat stress from their chronic illness

    Tickets are available now at this link!

    1. Dark Chocolate

    Dark Chocolate

    Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, which are shown to reduce free radicals and oxidation. It works to reduce stress hormones when consumed regularly. Consequently, the darker the chocolate, the higher the antioxidant content.

    Many professionals recommend 85% dark cocoa due to its higher antioxidant content and lower number of calories and sugar. Just be sure to keep the serving size down to about 40-50 grams per day, and make sure your overall diet is balanced to account for added chocolate.

    2. Bananas

    Bananas

    Serotonin, the hormone that helps stabilize mood and cognition, is influenced by what we eat. While serotonin is not naturally found in food, vitamins like B6 and folate may improve symptoms of depression and lead to higher serotonin levels.

    Bananas are a good source of these vitamins. Eating at least one medium-size banana per day can help improve mood and overall happiness and well-being.

    3. Pears

    Another source of antioxidants are pears. Pears are rich in vitamin C, another immune-boosting antioxidant that can impact our stress hormones. Illness can increase the presence of stress hormones in the body, so foods rich in vitamin C like pears can help fight free radicals, fight illness, and reduce stress hormones.

    4. Yogurt

    yogurt

    Research indicates there is a direct relationship between our gut health and our mood. Accordingly, probiotic-rich foods play a large role in promoting healthy gut bacteria. For this reason, yogurt with live, active cultures may play a role in reducing stress and improving
    mood.

    5. Kimchi

    Kimchi

    Kimchi, a fermented cabbage (or other vegetable), is a great source of probiotics, vitamins, and antioxidants. Some studies have found that those who eat more fermented foods such as kimchi report lower stress levels.

    Others have found a link between probiotic-rich foods like kimchi and mood, due to the bacteria in the gut which helps influence mood.

    6. Swiss Chard

    Swiss chard is a leafy green rich in magnesium, a nutrient associated with panic attacks and anxiety when not consumed in adequate amounts. One cup of swiss chard contains almost 40% of the daily recommendation for magnesium, making it one more food that helps ease anxiety and reduce anxiety-related stress.

    7. Water

    Considering over 60% of your body is made up of water, dehydration causes stress. Proper hydration eases stress and reduces cortisol levels. Water helps flush toxins out of the body, which can contribute to lowering stress levels while helping the brain and organs function at their best.

    8. Fatty Fish

    Vitamin D and omega-3s are associated with reduced stress levels. Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, trout, Albacore tuna, and sardines are excellent sources of these nutrients. Eating two times per week may help keep overall cortisol levels low, while also fighting anxiety and depression.

    15 HEALTHY FOODS THAT HELP REDUCE STRESS

    9. Chamomile Tea

    Chamomile tea has long been associated with lowered risk for anxiety and depression. It was used as a medicinal herb as far back as 1550 BC. Research shows that chamomile helps reduce anxiety and depression, among other benefits.

    10. Whole Grains

    Whole grains may reduce stress by promoting the production and release of hormones such as serotonin, a mood-boosting hormone. Many whole grains are high in tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is required to produce serotonin.

    11. Strawberries and Citrus Fruit

    Similarly to pears, strawberries and citrus fruit are excellent sources of antioxidants like vitamin C which improves the stress response and can reduce levels of stress hormones like cortisol.

    12. Matcha

    Foods that Help Reduce Stress

    Matcha powder is high in L-theanine, which is an amino acid shown to reduce stress in humans. It has a higher concentration of this amino acid than other variations of green tea, making it a better stress-busting drink. Research has shown that consuming matcha daily can significantly reduce stress markers.

    13. Turkey Breast

    It’s no secret that turkey is rich in tryptophan (how many times have you attributed your post-Thanksgiving sluggishness to tryptophan?). Tryptophan is needed to produce serotonin, and serotonin helps regulate mood and ease anxiety and stress.

    14. Blueberries

    Blueberries are another food rich in vitamin C and a number of antioxidants, which reduce stress and provide relief for anxiety.

    15. Seeds

    Seeds, particularly chia seeds and sunflower seeds, release tryptophan when eaten, aiding in the production and release of serotonin which helps reduce stress in the body.

    So, What Foods Should You Avoid?

    You should try to avoid fried foods, dairy products, processed foods, refined cereals, and treats like cookies, cakes, and other sweets that have a negative effect on stress levels.

    A diet high in these kinds of foods is associated with higher rates of anxiety and depression, due to their lower nutritional quality and lack of stress-fighting nutrients.

    15 HEALTHY FOODS THAT HELP REDUCE STRESS

    Final Thoughts on 15 Healthy Foods that Help Reduce Stress (& What to Avoid)

    While stress is a normal part of life and cannot always be avoided, our diet can help reduce the negative health consequences of stress and even reduce stress hormones in the body, lowering anxiety and making stress more manageable.

    Whole foods such as lean meats, healthy fats, and whole grains can provide some stress-improving effects, but the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables are your best bet for managing stress through the diet.

    On April 27th, 2021, Allison Tallman, registered dietitian and co-founder of Nourished Routes, LLC. will host a live webinar with guest speaker, therapist Anna Cohen, MSW.

    During this webinar, you’ll learn how to manage your stress through nutrition and daily stress management techniques! This is great for any readers who would like to learn how to combat stress from their chronic illness

    Tickets are available now at this link!

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    Nourished Routes, LLC.
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, Founders at | Website | + posts

    Nourished Routes is a Nashville-based nutrition consulting company that helps women who are struggling with a variety of health concerns, including confusion and a feeling of being overwhelmed about what to eat and how to eat for their condition, a lack of energy, gut discomfort, and food allergies and intolerances. They help their clients to implement a highly personalized whole foods approach so that they can enjoy food again and achieve a sense of empowerment and food freedom while feeling nourished and ultimately live their best lives.

    You can schedule a free kick-off call with them here.

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