We all have our go-to stress snack: mine, for example, is a big bowl of Reese’s. Yeah, not the healthiest choice. While reaching for our comfort foods when feeling anxious might grant us momentary relief, certain nutrients might be more effective in taming our stress. And by being mindful of which snacks we reach for, we might learn how to best manage our stress, in the long-term. Here’s a list of five foods and nutrients your body actually needs when you’re feeling stressed.
According to WebMD, those headaches and waves of fatigue you feel when you’re stressed might be due to a lack of magnesium. One of the best places to fill up on this essential nutrient is through dark, leafy greens. Kale is chock-full of magnesium, packing in 31 milligrams of magnesium in one chopped cup. Ever try kale chips? They’re crunchy, satisfying, and a heck of a lot healthier than regular old Lays.
Studies have shown how the caffeine in black tea might help reduce your stress levels, encourage a restful sleep and even boost your mood. One study conducted at the City University London even linked tea’s chemical properties to higher mental alertness, promoting stress management and relief. And besides: what sounds more relaxing than a book and a steaming mug of tea?
Avocados are jam-packed with nutrients that not only boost your health but might also relieve some of that stress. WebMD explains how they’re full of potassium, a nutrient vital to the management of anxiety. They pack in up to 20 other essential vitamins, like vitamin E and B vitamins. Adding a little avocado to your meal might give you the nutrient boost you need to quell your stress … and satiate your craving for a high-fat treat.
Chocolate holds a world of health benefits — and stress relief might be one of them. One study published in the International Journal of Health Sciences evaluated the effects of chocolate intake on stress levels. They found that 40 grams of dark chocolate consumed daily significantly reduced the participants’ anxiety levels. Monitor your intake, but treat yourself: A bite of dark chocolate can be the perfect stress food!
So yes, carbs can be your friend. According to WebMD, complex carbs might be effective in taming stress because they encourage your brain to produce more serotonin, or the feel-good chemical. They also stabilize your blood sugar levels and encourage feelings of fullness, to prevent you from reaching for that not-so-healthy stress snack. Opt for a comforting bowl of oatmeal or a toasted slice of whole grain bread.