10 Foods That Help Reduce Stress

Reducing stress might be as easy as eating the right foods.

How you feel can be directly related to what you eat. If you frequently feel stressed out, it is tempting to grab refined carbohydrates, otherwise known as comfort foods, and eat them in unhealthy quantities. Instead of reaching for a pint of premium chocolate ice cream, try changing your diet to include some of the foods below, and see if your stress level decreases. Chances are, when you add in these vitamin powerhouses, you will feel a difference.

1. Blueberries""Besides having been identified as one of the healthiest foods around, blueberries are very high in vitamin C, which has been shown to give the body added reserves to help it deal with high levels of stress. Also, blueberries contain a high amount of fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels that fluctuate too much are a major contributor to stress for some people.

2. Low fat or skim milk""Milk is very high in calcium and B vitamins, which help to build your bones and protect nerve health. It is also high in protein, and protein also helps blood sugar to stay stabilized. Try mixing some milk, a sweetener and some frozen blueberries in the blender for a healthy pick-me-up that is super good for you, and an excellent alternative to ice cream!

3. Oranges""Oranges are very rich in vitamin C. When you are stressed, your body releases even more free radicals than usual. Vitamin C helps to keep the free radicals in check, and repairs the body. Basically, it helps protect the body from the cumulative effects of stress.

4. Brown rice""All whole grains, including bulger wheat, quinoa, oats and brown rice contain plenty of B vitamins and also supply serotonin producing carbohydrates that do not spike blood sugar levels. They also contain plenty of healthy fiber.

5. Green vegetables""Broccoli, kale, and other dark green vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins that help replenish our bodies in times of stress. Many vegetables also contain potassium, which is good for our nerves and can calm them. Also, when we eat a diet high in vegetables, we do not feel weighed down by our diet, and it is easier to get stress-reducing exercise.

6. Dried apricots""These are rich in magnesium, which is a stress-buster. Some people even say that magnesium helps reduce heart palpitations brought on by stress. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant as well. Apricots are also high in fiber and vitamin C. Don't eat too many of them, though, because they also contain quite a bit of fructose, a type of sugar.

7. Turkey""Turkey contains an amino acid called L-Tryptophan. This amino acid triggers the release of serotonin, which is a feel-good brain chemical. This is the reason why many people who eat turkey feel relaxed, or even tired, after eating it. L-Tryptophan has a documented calming effect. Chicken is also high in this amino acid. However, don't eat them fried, or your body will be so busy digesting the fats that you will miss out on the benefit of these foods!

8. Soy""Try adding foods that are made out of soy to your diet, such as soymilk, tofu, tempeh and soy nuts. Soy is high in protein, B vitamins, calcium and magnesium.

9. Sweet potatoes""Sweet potatoes can be particularly stress reducing because they can satisfy the urge we get for carbohydrates and sweets when we are under a great deal of stress. Instead of reaching for a donut, eat one of these instead. They are packed full of beta-carotene and other vitamins, and the fiber helps your body to process the carbohydrates in a slow and steady manner.

10. Water""While technically not a food, it is important to have sufficient water intake, as even a mild state of dehydration can stress your entire body. Keep your nerves steady by staying well hydrated.

As you can see, the foods listed above are not only healthy, but they taste good as well! Next time you crave sweets because of stress, reach for some dried apricots, a sweet potato, or make a blueberry smoothie. Eat other wholesome foods the rest of the time, and eventually, your level of stress will decrease, leaving you less susceptible to unhealthy food cravings.

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