Fruits For Stress Relief

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Fruits For Stress Relief are One of the ways on how to deal with stress is to incorporate fruits in your diet. Fruits are a good source of vitamins, minerals and fiber that are essential for our overall health and well-being. Here’s a list of fruits you can put into your diet in order to relieve stress:

10 Stress Relieving Foods to Try if You’re Feeling Anxious

Girl works at a computer and eats fast food. Unhealthy food: chips, crackers, candy, waffles, cola. Junk food, concept.

When work deadlines begin piling up and your social calendar is overbooked, who has time for healthy eating? But when it comes to combating stress levels, what you eat may actually help relieve your tension. Some foods may help stabilize blood sugar or, better yet, your emotional response. Here are 20 foods that may reduce stress and why they can help.

01

Green leafy vegetables

Leafy greens

It’s tempting to reach for a cheeseburger when stressed, but go green at lunch instead. “Green leafy vegetables like spinach contain folate, which produces dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical, helping you keep calm,” Heather Mangieri, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells Health. A study in the Journal of Affective Disorders of 2,800 middle-age and elderly people found that those who consumed the most folate had a lower risk of depression symptoms than those who took in the least. Another study from the University of Otago in New Zealand discovered that college students tended to feel calmer, happier, and more energetic on days they ate more fruits and veggies. It can be hard to tell which came first—upbeat thoughts or healthy eating—but the researchers found that healthy eating seemed to predict a positive mood the next day.

02

Turkey breast

Turkey

You’ve probably heard that the tryptophan in turkey is to blame for that food coma on Thanksgiving. This amino acid helps produce serotonin, “the chemical that regulates hunger and feelings of happiness and well-being,” Mangieri says. On its own, tryptophan may have a calming effect. In a 2006 study published in the Journal of Psychiatry Neuroscience, men and women who were argumentative (based on personality tests) took either tryptophan supplements or a placebo for 15 days. Those who took tryptophan were perceived as more agreeable by their study partners at the end of the two weeks compared with when they didn’t take it. Other foods high in tryptophan include nuts, seeds, tofu, fish, lentils, oats, beans, and eggs.

03

Oatmeal

Oatmeal

If you’re already a carb lover, it’s likely that nothing can come between you and a doughnut when stress hits. First rule of thumb: Don’t completely deny the craving. According to research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, carbohydrates can help the brain make serotonin, the same brain chemical that is regulated by certain antidepressants. But instead of reaching for that sugary bear claw, go for complex carbs. “Stress can cause your blood sugar to rise, Mangieri says, “so a complex carb like oatmeal won’t contribute to your already potential spike in blood glucose.”

04

Yogurt

Yogurt

As bizarre as it may sound, the bacteria in your gut might be contributing to stress. Research has shown that the brain and gut communicate via body chemicals, which is why stress can inflame gastrointestinal symptoms. And a UCLA study among 36 healthy women revealed that consuming probiotics in yogurt reduced brain activity in areas that handle emotion, including stress. This study was small, so more research is needed to confirm the results—but considering that yogurt is full of calcium and protein in addition to probiotics, you really can’t go wrong by adding more of it to your diet.

05

Salmon

Salmon

Stress can ratchet up levels of anxiety hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. “The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon have anti-inflammatory properties that may help counteract the negative effects of stress hormones,” says Lisa Cimperman, RD, of the University Hospitals Case Medical Center and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, Oregon State University medical students who took omega-3 supplements had a 20% reduction in anxiety compared to the group given placebo pills.

06

Blueberries

“When you’re stressed, there’s a battle being fought inside you,” Mangieri says. “The antioxidants and phytonutrients found in berries fight in your defense, helping improve your body’s response to stress.” Research has also shown that blueberry eaters experience a boost in natural killer cells, “a type of white blood cell that plays a vital role in immunity, critical for countering stress,” Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health’s contributing nutrition editor, tells Health.

07

Pistachios

When you have an ongoing loop of negative thoughts playing in your mind, doing something repetitive with your hands may help silence your inner monologue. Think knitting or kneading bread—or even shelling nuts like pistachios or peanuts. The rhythmic moves will help you relax. Plus, the added step of cracking open a shell slows down your eating, making pistachios a diet-friendly snack. What’s more, pistachios have heart-health benefits. “Eating pistachios may reduce acute stress by lowering blood pressure and heart rate,” Mangieri says. “The nuts contain key phytonutrients that may provide antioxidant support for cardiovascular health.”

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Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate

A regular healthy indulgence (just a bite, not a whole bar!) of dark chocolate might have the power to regulate your stress levels. “Research has shown that it can reduce your stress hormones, including cortisol,” Sass says. “Also, the antioxidants in cocoa trigger the walls of your blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation. Finally, dark chocolate contains unique natural substances that create a sense of euphoria similar to the feeling of being in love.” Go for varieties that contain at least 70% cocoa.

09

Milk

Milk

Fortified milk is an excellent source of vitamin D, which is thought to boost happiness. A 50-year study by London’s UCL Institute of Child Health found an association between reduced levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of panic and depression among 5,966 men and women. People who had sufficient vitamin D levels had a reduced risk of panic disorders compared to subjects with the lowest levels of vitamin D. Other foods high in vitamin D include salmon, egg yolks, and fortified cereal.

10

Seeds

Seeds

Flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are all great sources of magnesium (as are leafy greens, yogurt, nuts, and fish). Loading up on the mineral may help regulate emotions. “Magnesium has been shown to help alleviate depression, fatigue, and irritability,” Sass says. “Bonus: When you’re feeling especially irritable during that time of the month, the mineral also helps to fight PMS symptoms, including cramps and water retention.”

Best fruits and veggies for easing stress

Feeling on edge? It may be time to up your fruit and vegetable intake, with new research revealing their benefits for stress relief. 

Government statistics reveal half of people don’t eat the recommended two pieces of fruit each day, while 90 per cent fail to eat at least five serves of vegetables a day.

Fruits and vegetables are important for many reasons, from helping to maintain healthy blood pressure to reducing the risks of heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, and keeping our digestive systems healthy.

And new research suggests eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may help reduce stress, too.

Fruit and vegetables linked to stress relief

Edith Cowan University researchers found people who ate at least 470g of fruits and vegetables a day had 10 per cent lower stress levels than men and women who ate less than 230g daily.

“The mechanisms as to how eating plenty of fruits and vegetables impacts stress levels isn’t yet clear,” Edith Cowan University Institute for Nutrition Research lead researcher Simone Radavelli-Bagatini says.

“It may be that the protective role is linked to some of the components found in fruits and vegetables, like carotenoids that give vegetables a red, yellow and orange colour and flavonoids found in apple skin that can lower inflammation.

“Some nutrients, like amino acids and minerals, also increase the happy hormones in the brain – serotonin and dopamine – that promote good feelings.”

The latest research supports an earlier University of Sydney study that linked eating three to four serves of vegetables a day to lower psychological distress, particularly for women.

That study found women who ate three to fours serves of vegetables had an 18 per cent lower risk of stress than women who ate none to one serves daily.

Women who ate two serves of fruit each day had a 16 per cent lower risk of psychological distress.

And research from New Zealand suggests we may get the best stress-lowering effects if we eat our fruits and vegetables raw, rather than cooked or processed.

“Our research has highlighted that the consumption of fruit and vegetables in their ‘unmodified’ state is more strongly associated with better mental health compared to cooked/canned/processed fruit and vegetables,” University of Otago psychologist and leader researcher Dr Tamlin Conner wrote.

“(Cooking and processing) likely limits the delivery of nutrients that are essential for optimal emotional functioning.”

Top fruits and vegetables for easing stress and boosting mood

The study found the most effective stress-relieving fruits and veggies were:

  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Dark leafy greens such as spinach
  • Grapefruit and other citrus fruits
  • Lettuce
  • Fresh berries
  • Cucumber
  • Kiwifruit

What constitutes a serve of fruits and vegetables?

Fruit

About 150g, which is:

  • A medium apple, banana, orange or pear
  • Two small apricots or plums
  • A cup of diced or canned fruit

Vegetables

About 75g, equivalent to:

  • Half a cup of cooked green or orange vegetables
  • One cup of green leafy or raw salad vegetables
  • A medium tomato
  • Half a medium potato or sweet potato

Eat These Foods to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

mediterranean diet for low stress

If you’re trying to lower your stress levels, you probably already know to start with the basics: self-care, sleep management, and exercise. But did you know there are some foods that lower stress levels, too?

Dietitian Courtney Barth, MS, RDN, LD, CPT, explains how certain foods can help reduce your levels of cortisol — the primary hormone responsible for stress.

What cortisol does

Cortisol plays a number of roles in the body, including:

  • Regulating sleep cycles.
  • Reducing inflammation.
  • Increasing blood sugar.
  • Managing how the body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
  • Controlling blood pressure.

Importantly, cortisol is sometimes known as the “stress hormone” because your adrenal gland releases it when you’re in a stressful situation, or when your body is under physical stress (like inflammation). It’s the key to helping your body manage its fight-or-flight instinct — which is a good thing.

“Cortisol is healthy for a short period of time as a protective mechanism,” Barth says. “It gives your body the energy you need to respond to a short-term stressful scenario.”

In the long-term, though, too much cortisol actually creates stress in your body, leading to more inflammation and increasing your blood pressure — essentially, the opposite of all the good things it does for you in short-term scenarios.

“Managing stress is the number one treatment for lowering cortisol levels,” Barth says.

Stress-relieving foods

Foods that are promoted on the Mediterranean diet are the same foods that are good to eat when you’re stressed: fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats. In fact, Barth encourages patients to adopt a Mediterranean diet for overall health and wellness, including stress relief.

“The best way to lower cortisol in the body is to focus on an anti-inflammatory diet,” Barth says. “That means fewer processed foods and more whole foods.”

The goal is to eat foods that reduce inflammation in your body, thus reducing cortisol levels. Here are some foods that help combat stress by lowering your cortisol.

Foods high in vitamin B

“Fortified whole grains and some animal sources have lots of B vitamins in them — particularly vitamin B12, which can help with metabolism of cortisol,” Barth explains. Try:

  • Beef.
  • Chicken.
  • Eggs.
  • Fortified cereal.
  • Nutritional yeast.
  • Organ meats.

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acid

These foods reduce inflammation. “The best activated form is through fatty fish, but you can also get it from some plant sources,” Barth says. Such foods include:

  • Anchovies.
  • Avocados.
  • Chia seeds.
  • Flax seeds.
  • Herring.
  • Mackerel.
  • Olive oil.
  • Oysters.
  • Salmon
  • Sardines.
  • Tuna.
  • Walnuts.

Magnesium-rich foods

“Magnesium is hugely beneficial when it comes to reducing inflammation, metabolizing cortisol and relaxing the body and mind,” Barth says. She suggests:

  • Avocados.
  • Bananas.
  • Broccoli.
  • Dark chocolate.
  • Pumpkin seeds.
  • Spinach.

Protein-rich foods

“Foods such as meat, fish, poultry, beans, and legumes promote balanced blood sugar levels,” Barth says. Specifics include:

  • Almonds.
  • Chicken breast.
  • Eggs.
  • Lean beef.
  • Lentils.
  • Peanuts.
  • Quinoa.
  • Turkey breast.
  • Tuna.
  • Salmon.
  • Shrimp.

Gut-healthy foods

“Seventy to 80% of our immune system is reliant on our gut, so if we correct our gut, we correct a lot of our immunity,” Barth says. These probiotic-rich and fermented foods can help balance blood sugar and reduce cholesterol:

  • Greek yogurt.
  • Kefir.
  • Kimchi.
  • Kombucha.
  • Sauerkraut.

If you need to de-stress in a hurry

Stress management through food is a long game, not a get-relaxed-quick trick. That said, magnesium-rich foods are a good choice if you’re trying to unwind and want a little natural assistance.

“High-magnesium foods are my first line of treatment,” Barth says. “Magnesium helps to relax the body, which helps reduce stress. It’s also a mineral for important body function, including heart rhythm, strong bones, keeping blood pressure normal, and helping to decrease risk of risk chronic diseases.”

In a pinch, she suggests popping some pumpkin seeds or letting some dark chocolate melt in your mouth (just make sure it’s at least 90% cacao). Try it at the end of the day for a little bit of nighttime relaxation.

Foods to avoid

In contrast, some foods raise cortisol levels. Foods that cause stress on your body include:

  • Alcohol.
  • Caffeine.
  • High-sugar foods.
  • Simple carbs, such as cakes and pastries.
  • Soda.

Eat well and eat consistently

If you’re hoping to reduce stress, keep in mind this one key piece of advice: Don’t skip meals. Eating on a regular schedule — every three to five hours — helps balance your blood sugar levels. Being in a chronic state of low blood sugar is stressful on your body and can increase cortisol, so maintaining a balanced blood sugar can go a long way.

And tempting though it may be, don’t turn to supplements to get the vitamins and nutrients your body needs.

“We know what impact nutrition has on your body, whereas supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration,” Barth says. “I always tell people: Go with food first.”

What are some foods to ease anxiety?

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Following a nutrient-dense diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and other healthy foods may help some people manage their anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety is a widespread condition, affecting millions of people globally. Symptoms vary, and some people experience them only now and then. However, someone who experiences symptoms for 6 monthsTrusted Source or longer may have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

GAD has psychological and physical symptoms such as:

  • fear
  • tension
  • excessive worry about everyday events and problems
  • irritability
  • difficulty concentrating
  • issues with personal, social, and work relationships
  • heart palpitations and elevated heart rate
  • muscle tension
  • chest tightness

Doctors often treat GAD with a combination of treatments, including talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and medications. Sometimes, these conventional treatments do not work long-term. However, some research suggests that proper nutrition may help improve symptoms.

9 foods that help reduce anxiety

Transitioning to a healthier dietary pattern rich in nutrients may helpTrusted Source ease anxiety symptoms in some people. Overall dietary intake, along with therapy and medication, can be a helpful tool for anxiety management. Consuming the following foods may help reduce anxiety in some people.

1. Fatty fish

Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, and herring, are high in omega-3s. Omega-3s are a type of fatty acids that have a strong relationship to cognitive function and mental health.

Omega-3s

Omega-3-rich foods contain either alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) or two essential fatty acidsTrusted Source: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

EPA and DHA regulate neurotransmitters, reduce inflammation, and promoteTrusted Source healthy brain function.

A small studyTrusted Source on 24 people with substance misuse problems found that EPA and DHA supplementation resulted in reduced levels of anxiety. However, supplements generally contain a more concentrated form of nutrients than foods do.

A 2018 reviewTrusted Source found that reduced anxiety symptoms were associated with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid treatment. The effects were stronger in participants with clinical anxiety symptoms.

Current recommendations suggest eating at least two servingsTrusted Source of fatty fish per week. A studyTrusted Source conducted on men found that eating salmon three times per week reduced self-reported anxiety.

Vitamin D

Salmon and sardines are also among the few foods that contain vitamin D.

Researchers are increasingly linking vitamin D deficiency to mood disorders such as anxiety.

Research has linkedTrusted Source low levels of vitamin D in the blood to depression and anxiety traits, though more studies are needed. People with vitamin D deficiency should consider taking high dose supplements rather than eating fatty fish alone.

Other studies on pregnantTrusted Source women and older adultsTrusted Source have also highlighted how vitamin D might improve mood.

2. Eggs

Egg yolksTrusted Source, especially from pasture-raised hens, are another good source of vitamin D.

Eggs are also an excellent source of protein. They are a complete protein, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids the body needs for growth and development.

Eggs also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps create serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter found in the brain, bowels, and blood platelets that helps regulate mood, sleep, memory, and behavior.

Serotonin is thought to improveTrusted Source brain function and relieve anxiety. However, it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning food and treatments containing serotonin do not supply serotonin directly but can trigger chemical reactions boosting serotonin in the brain.

Some studies suggest that diet and gut microbiota could play a role in preventing and treating symptoms related to anxiety. More research is needed to confirm whether this is possible.

3. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seedsTrusted Source are an excellent source of potassium, which helps regulateTrusted Source electrolyte balance and manage blood pressure. An older 2008 study found that lower potassium and magnesium levels were associated with high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that the adrenal glands release.

Eating potassium-rich foods, such as pumpkin seeds and bananas, may help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of the mineral zinc. One studyTrusted Source carried out on 100 female high school students found that serum zinc levels were inversely related to mood disorders, including depression and anxiety. These results suggest that increasing serum levels of zinc could improve mood disorders in some people.

Zinc is essential for brain and nerve development. The largest storage sites of zinc in the body are in the brain regions involved with emotions.

4. Dark chocolate

dark-chocolate-chunks-piled-up

Experts have long suspected that dark chocolate might help reduce stress and anxiety.

Some research has found that dark chocolate or cocoa may improve mood via the gut-brain axis. However, many of the existing studies on this subject are observational, so it is important to interpret the results with caution.

Although it is still unclear how dark chocolate may improve mood or stress, dark chocolate is a rich source of polyphenols, especially flavonoids. One studyTrusted Source suggests that flavonoids might reduce neuroinflammation and cell death in the brain as well as improve blood flow.

Chocolate has a high content of tryptophan, which the body uses to turn into mood-enhancing neurotransmittersTrusted Source such as serotonin in the brain.

Dark chocolate is also a good source of magnesium. Eating a diet with enough magnesium in it or taking supplements may reduceTrusted Source symptoms of stress and anxiety.

People with magnesium deficiency should consider taking high dose supplements rather than eating dietary sources alone.

When choosing dark chocolate, aim for 70% cacao or more. Dark chocolate still contains added sugars and fats, so a small serving of 1–3 grams (g) is appropriate.

5. Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice commonly used in Indian and Southeast Asian cooking. The active ingredient in turmeric, called curcumin, may help lower anxiety by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress that often increase in people experiencing mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.

A 2015 study found that 1 g of curcumin per day reduced anxiety in adults with obesity. People should discuss supplementation with their doctor if they are interested in high dose curcumin products.

Another study found that an increase of curcumin in the diet also increased DHA and reduced anxiety. Turmeric is easy to add to meals. It has minimal flavor, so it goes well in smoothies, curries, and casserole dishes.

6. Chamomile

Many people around the world use chamomile tea as an herbal remedy because of its anti-inflammatoryTrusted Source, antibacterial, antioxidant, and relaxant properties.

Some people believe that the relaxant and anti-anxiety properties come from the flavonoids present in chamomile.

One studyTrusted Source found that taking 1,500 milligrams (mg) of chamomile extract per day (a 500-mg capsule three times per day) did reduce anxiety symptoms. However, it did not prevent new episodes of anxiety.

Chamomile tea may be useful in managing anxiety. It is readily available and safe to use in high doses.

7. Yogurt

Yogurt contains the healthy bacteria Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. Emerging evidenceTrusted Source suggests that these bacteria and fermented products have positive effects on brain health.

According to a 2017 clinical review, yogurt and other dairy products may also produce an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. Some researchTrusted Source suggests that chronic inflammation may be partly responsible for anxiety, stress, and depression.

A 2015 studyTrusted Source found fermented foods reduced social anxiety in some young people, while multiple studiesTrusted Source have found that consuming healthy bacteria can increase happiness in some people.

Including yogurt and other fermented foods in the diet can benefit the natural gut bacteria and may reduce anxiety and stress.

Fermented foods include cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented soy products.

8. Green tea

Green tea contains an amino acid called theanineTrusted Source, which has been subject to increasing scrutiny because of its potential effects on mood disorders. Theanine has anti-anxiety and calming effects and may increase the production of serotonin and dopamine.

A 2017 reviewTrusted Source found that 200 mg of theanine improved self-reported relaxation and calmness while reducing tension in human trials.

Green tea is easy to add to the day-to-day diet. It is a suitable replacement for soft drinks, coffee, and alcoholic beverages.

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