If you’ve had stress-related snacks of junk food and sugary drinks during quarantine, you are not alone. Many have indulged in unhealthy habits that lead to body image problems, depression, and increased stress. Although food is widely used as a coping mechanism, sometimes it can only make stress worse.
So what foods can help cut your stress levels in half instead of leaving you with the eater’s remorse?
You may have heard of fatty fish like salmon or mackerel, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are necessary for a healthy diet. However, lesser-known sources of omega-3s can range from caviar, which contains 1,086 mg per tablespoon, to oysters or flaxseed.
For those who hate fish, there are still ways to reap the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Research also shows that supplements are a great way to increase omega-3 levels. A study by Ohio State University found that “daily supplements containing 2.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, the highest dose tested, were best at helping the body withstand the harmful effects of stress.”
In this report, participants taking these supplements had less of the stress hormone cortisol in their systems. When a stress-inducing event occurred in the laboratory, those in the placebo group had a lower physiological tolerance to the stress than the omega-3 group.
This is a powerful science, but don’t let supplements distract you just yet – consulting your doctor is key in case they don’t mix with your current medications or health conditions.
2. Decaf Matcha Lattes
A report from Current Pharmaceutical Design 2017 talks about the health benefits and effectiveness of matcha, the newest and trendiest food for stress relief. In contrast to normal green tea, matcha tea contains a higher proportion of “phytochemicals from green tea” compared to normal green tea. The three main components of matcha that are the greatest stress relievers are caffeine, L-theanine, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), all of which have been tested and have been shown to benefit both mood and cognitive performance.
Caffeine was also found to be a stress reliever mechanism, but not a relaxing one. The main benefit is the improvement in cognitive performance, especially on “demanding cognitive tasks of long duration”. Participants reported feeling more alert and aroused even after taking low doses.
Apart from that, “significant effects already occurred at low doses of 40 mg”. So don’t overdo it with the caffeine, or you may experience palpitations or anxiety. Since matcha already has caffeine in it, there’s no need to add more to make your latte decaf.
In this study, L-theanine, another chemical found in green tea, was found to “improve self-reported relaxation, tension, and rest at 200 mg and above.” L-theanine has also been found to reduce some of the caffeine-induced arousal and perfectly balance a burst of energy with mild rest.
In addition, the warm milk in a latte is full of B vitamins and tryptophan, which are supposed to increase serotonin levels. Even if you’re lactose intolerant, a squirt of moisturizing almond milk or high-protein soy milk can be just as effective.
3. Gluten free garlic knots
These stress relieving garlic knots aren’t the kind you get from Olive Garden that is pickled in salted butter and garlic powder. These are filled with natural antioxidants, immune-boosting vitamins, and digestive grains.
Garlic, the main ingredient in a garlic knot, has long been a staple of many anti-inflammatory diets ranging from heart healthy to weight loss. Researchers from the journal Nutrition and Metabolism Find that the main benefit of garlic is the antioxidant glutathione, which some refer to as your body’s “first line of defense” against stress by improving insulin levels, eliminating psoriasis, and reducing oxidative stress (the physiological ability to do so) repair and detoxify their own body).
Another key ingredient in the perfect garlic knot, parsley is also an antioxidant powerhouse. Not only is Parley high in flavonoids, which also reduce oxidative stress, but it also contains vitamin C, which some have reported to lower anxiety levels. Frontiers in Neuroscience emphasizes that antioxidants can help reduce inflammation, which is exacerbated in people with depression, chronic health problems, and anxiety or stress.
As for the knot itself, gluten-free bread is the preferred carbohydrate here, namely rye, buckwheat, or brown rice flour. Contrary to what many may believe, carbohydrates are not the enemy; In fact, they can temporarily increase serotonin and reduce stress.
However, it depends on what kind of carbohydrates you are eating. Unrefined carbohydrates like processed bread, pasta, or candy can cause your blood sugar to mess up. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber to support gut health. And since the APA reports that 95% of serotonin is produced by the gut, your gut satisfaction could calm your mind as well.
For those less interested in salty caviar or flavorful garlic knots, there are milder foods available that will relieve stress without irritating the gout or GERD. For example, one of the most popular and delicious snacks on the market, hummus contains two non-sour superfoods: chickpeas and tahini.
In general, it has been scientifically proven that Mediterranean diets reduce stress and promote a positive emotional state. This includes not only fish, rice, olives or olive oil, but also chickpeas and tahini. Not only are chickpeas loaded with tryptophan, but they also contain tons of B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium, the latter of which has been linked to stress when one’s own system is deficient.
One of the main ingredients in tahini, sesame seeds, is a great source of omega-6 and omega-3. Tahini is also rich in tryptophan, which is a common thread among all of these foods. And for good reason: A four-day study found that tryptophan levels in participants’ diets coincided directly with positive mood.
5. Avocado toast
The mortal enemy of many money-saving avocado toasts has long been the symbol of legitimate millennials everywhere. Although you may be reluctant to pay $ 20 for this decadent treat at an overpriced coffee shop, making a slice of avocado toast at home can result in lower blood pressure, healthier skin, and better exercise.
Avocados are the main ingredient in this controversial dish, and their benefits are not to be underestimated. While avocados are full of B vitamins and potassium like many other stress relieving foods on this list, they also contain vitamin E, which improves eyesight, skin, hair, and nails. Vitamin E also prevents blood clots by widening blood vessels, increasing blood flow, and reducing inflammation.
The toasted portion of avocado toast shouldn’t just be a piece of wonder bread, as simple carbohydrates can be filled in the moment, but the blood sugar spike may be a bit too high for lasting relaxation. “All carbohydrates cause the brain to make more serotonin,” reports WebMD. “For a steady supply of this feel-good chemical, it’s best to eat complex carbohydrates that take longer to digest.” These come in the form of whole grain products that are rich in iron, protein and the anxiety-relieving vitamin magnesium.
Avocados are high in fat and calories, and excess carbohydrates can overwhelm the digestive system. Although this food can reduce stress as a reward, and each component has different healthy properties, over-indulgence can lead to even more stress.