I’m American, and you want to know how I know I’m a true American? I work long hours, with no sietas and I am always rushing around. I also get stressed. It’s the inevitable in our culture, and it does comfort me to know that there are some foods that can actually help with stress.
Foods that fight stress (originally from caloriecount.about.com)
Usefulness: Lowers Blood Pressure
A Pennsylvania State University (PSU) study found that consuming walnut oil over a six-week period lowered both resting blood pressure as well as blood pressure responses to stress. According to Sheila G. West, associate professor of bio-behavioral health at PSU, the study is the first to connect walnut oil consumption with reducing blood pressure during stress. She adds, “This is important because we can’t avoid all of the stressors in our daily lives. This study shows that a dietary change could help our bodies better respond to stress.” For those whose hearts are already working overtime thanks to high adrenaline levels this is welcomed news. To get your fix, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends 1 ½ oz per day.
Try this Curried Walnut Chicken Recipe.
Usefulness: Promotes Steady Serotonin Production
Low serotonin levels can mean headaches, loss of appetite and depressed feelings. Raising serotonin levels can mean dealing with stress through increased energy levels and improved mood. Complex carbohydrates promote steady serotonin production. Alegent Health dietitian Toni Kuehneman explains, “When you drink sugar-sweetened beverages or have a candy bar, you start a vicious circle where tryptophan produces serotonin and blood sugar spikes then falls, so then you’re sleepy and go back to candy bar, and round and round.” However the balanced serotonin production that the fiber from whole grains like oatmeal provides slows digestion and thus gives you long term support. Kuehneman suggests combining carbohydrates with protein and fat for the perfect snack — such as whole-wheat crackers with cheese.
Try this Raspberry Oatmeal Pancakes Recipe.
Usefulness: Suppresses Adrenaline Production
Extended periods of physical or psychological stress produces the fight or flight hormone adrenaline. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids can help suppress the production of adrenaline. Too much adrenaline causes nervousness, mood swings, and aggression. Lowering adrenaline is as simple as eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two 3 ½ oz servings of cooked fatty fish like salmon a week.
Try this Maple Glazed Salmon Recipe.
Usefulness: Lowers Cortisol
University College London researchers found that daily cups of tea can help people recover from the stresses of everyday life quicker. Published in the journal Psychopharmacology, the study’s participants were found to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood after a stressful event as compared to those who had taken a fake tea substitute. Prolonged high levels of cortisol can lead to heart disease and other health problems. Professor Andrew Steptoe, who conducted the study says: “Drinking tea has traditionally been associated with stress relief…[in the study]neither we nor the participants knew whether they were drinking real or fake tea. This means that any differences were due to the biological ingredients of tea…”
Try this Smoked Tea Chicken Recipe.
Usefulness: Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
Having too little magnesium can result in headaches, anxiety and fatigue. Eating one cup of spinach provides up to 40% of the daily recommended value of magnesium, a mineral that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Because type 2 diabetics typically have low magnesium levels, eating spinach could improve the effects of the disease. Healthy adults stand to enjoy better eyesight, digestion and controlled appetite. The additional vitamins and minerals that spinach provides, makes it worthwhile to eat up daily.
Try this Grecian Spinach Recipe.