There's no doubt about it: stress kills. Whether your main source of stress is your finances, your work, or your relationships, people who suffer from excess stress are more prone to ailments including heart disease, high blood pressure, and depression. You may think that in order to reduce your stress level, you have to fix whatever the "problem" is. While it's always good to find ways to be less stressed out, it turns out that how you treat your body is just as important, and that includes what you put into it. By eating certain foods (and no, we're not talking about high-fat comfort foods - although those can be indulged in occasionally!), you can help your body fight the physiological symptoms of stress, and you will really feel the difference. Here are 7 foods that are surprisingly effective at lowering stress:
Nuts are packed with vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin B, all of which have been shown to ease stress. Walnuts in particular have a beneficial effect on blood pressure and keeping adrenaline under control. Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, which fights free radicals that can contribute to stress and heart disease.
The key ingredient in spinach that makes it so good for stress is magnesium, a mineral that helps keep your blood pressure from spiking. Magnesium can also reduce tiredness and headaches - two things that exacerbate stress levels. Adding one serving each day makes a big difference. If you don't like the taste of dark leafy greens by themselves, try adding a smaller amount of spinach to other dishes to get the benefit.
Omega - 3 fatty acids are good for more than just lowering heart disease risk and increasing longevity - they can also ease stress. Fish such as tuna has been shown in research studies to reduce anxiety and stress by keeping stress hormones like adrenaline under control. One study showed that participants who ate just three servings of fatty fish per week saw a significant reduction in their stress levels. Fish has other mood-enhancing features as well: it boosts serotonin levels, helping you feel happier and more balanced.
In a recent study, black tea actually lowered the participants' everyday stress levels, helping them recover from stressful events more quickly. The people in the study who drank 4 cups of black tea per day had lower levels of stress than those who were given a placebo beverage, suggesting that black tea can be a useful way to bounce back from stressful day-to-day situations.
If you're stressed out and craving comfort food, you can feel guilt-free about reaching for that guacamole. The potassium in avocado does wonders for blood pressure, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. If you're worried about the fat content in avocado, rest assured that it's monounsaturated fat, which is the good kind.
Bet you didn't see this one coming! While beef is rarely thought of as a "health food," it is packed with iron and zinc, which have been known to have beneficial effects on stress levels. Yes, it is a red meat and can be high in fat. But you can control that by eating lean cuts.
You already know that orange juice is good for you, with all its vitamins and antioxidants . What you may not have known is that it also has a calming effect on stress. The vitamin C helps to strengthen your immune system, which in turn prevents those stress chemicals from getting the best of you.