The World Health Organization has called stress ‘the health epidemic of the twenty- first century’.
Up to 80% of all doctors visits are thought to be related to stress – 80%!
Stress can have devastating long-term consequences for your health.
Here are 5 of the best foods that reduce stress and anxiety.
1. Dark Chocolate
We love chocolate because it tastes decadent but adding dark chocolate to your diet may also be helpful to reduce stress and anxiety.
Eating dark chocolate has also been shown to increase levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which may help reduce stress which leads to anxiety. This is exactly why I add chocolate to my Peppermint Mocha smoothie in the morning!
You can grab the recipe along with 4 others in this free Holiday Smoothie recipe book.
Dark chocolate also contains flavonols, which are antioxidants that may benefit brain function. They do this by improving blood flow to the brain helping it to adapt to stressful situations
In one study, individuals who consumed 74% dark chocolate twice daily for two weeks had improved levels of stress hormones commonly associated with anxiety, such as catecholamines and cortisol.
When choosing a healthy dark chocolate for eating, here are some things to look for:
- High cacao content – 70% or higher
- No added flavor or preservatives
- Low sugar content
- Few additives and overall ingredients
- Not “Dutched” or processed with alkali
The active ingredient in the spice turmeric is curcumin, a compound known for its role in promoting brain health and preventing anxiety disorders.
Curcumin also has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may prevent damage to brain cells These effects are due to curcumin’s ability to reduce cytokines, inflammatory markers, that have been linked with anxiety development.
Additionally, consumption of curcumin has been shown to increase blood antioxidant levels, which tend to be low in individuals with anxiety.
Why not give this Golden Turmeric Carrot soup a try to reduce stress?
3. Fermented Foods
Fermented and cultured foods like Greek yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and miso are a great source of probiotics which make them all excellent foods that reduce stress and anxiety.
Here’s why – probiotics supports the microbiome by introducing beneficial bacteria. If you have low levels of good gut bacteria you may be more prone to memory, brain fog and focus problems as well as anxiety and depression.
This is an important and emerging area of research with recent studies are showing a strong link between your gut and your brain. Learn more about the benefits of fermented foods and how they can help to avoid holiday weight gain here.
4. Green Tea
You may have heard of camomile which does contain high amounts of antioxidants that can soothe your stress but don’t forget about green tea to help you to reduce stress and anxiety. Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has both positive effects on overall brain health and anxiety reduction.
In one study, people who consumed L-theanine experienced reduced anxiety due to a reduction in psychological stress responses commonly associated with anxiety, like increased heart rate. Another study found that those who consumed beverage containing L-theanine experienced decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked with anxiety.
The positive effects could be due to L-theanine’s potential that prevent nerves from becoming overexcited. Lastly, L-theanine may increase serotonin, dopamine and GABA, neurotransmitters shown to have anti-anxiety effects.
This is probably not a food to help you to reduce stress and anxiety that you had on your list but here’s why you want to get more of it. Many studies dating back to the 1960s have shown that many people who suffer from anxiety and depression have folate deficiency. Asparagus boasts high amount of this mood-boosting nutrient.
One cup alone provides two-thirds of your daily recommended folate value. In fact folic acid has been used for years in treating clinical depression. Other sources of folate include lentils, black beans, greens.