When you're stressed out, you won't make the best food choices. Anxiety-ridden folks often eat cookies, candy, potato chips and other comfort foods to take their minds off their problems. This only intensifies stress, and may cause weight gain, high blood pressure or other chronic diseases. Live a calmer, healthier life by eating these 20 superfoods for stress relief.
Wheatgrass ranks highest on our list of superfoods for stress relief for hundreds of reasons. Wheatgrass is a young grass from the wheat family, and it's used as a supplement for health and vitality. Wheatgrass offers anti-stress power from chlorophyll, a nutrient comprised of the mineral magnesium. Magnesium is a proven antidote to stress and insomnia, and it's a critical component of hundreds of enzyme reactions in your body. Wheatgrass offers all B-complex vitamins, which are necessary to maintain a good mood. Some supplements add extra B-complex vitamins to what's already in high-grade wheatgrass for even more mood-enhancing power.
When you're feeling stressed out, eat some ginger, drink ginger tea or sprinkle some in your soup or salad. Ginger contains the antioxidant gingerol, which cleanses the body of harmful chemicals produced when we're anxious. Used as a medicine in China, Asia and India for thousands of years, it's excellent for treating nausea (and stress) caused by premenstrual syndrome, surgery, pregnancy or chemotherapy.
3. Green Tea
Green tea ranks with wheatgrass as one the best nutrient-heavy superfoods for stress relief. The amino acid L-theanine in green tea stimulates alpha waves in the brain,L-theanine affects dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood to help you relax during stressful times. Green tea and green tea extract contain small amounts of caffeine to boost energy gradually during the day. The L-theanine counteracts the caffeine in green tea, helping you avoid that jittery caffeine feeling even if you drink a lot of it. The cell-protecting antioxidants in green tea include flavonoids and catechins, and Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) to give you overall health benefits.
4. Dark Chocolate
If you feel happier after eating chocolate, it's due to more than the good taste. Studies have shown that dark chocolate reduces the stress hormone cortisol and catecholamines, hormones created by the adrenal glands as a result of stress. Researchers found that people who ate 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate every day for two weeks had significantly lower stress levels at the end of the study. Unsweetened dark chocolate has other health benefits. It's full of flavonoids, an antioxidant proven to destroy cell-damaging free radicals and protect the body against disease. Dark chocolate also contains polyphenols, antioxidants that protect the heart from inflammation.
5. Cayenne Pepper
A chili pepper and popular “hot” spice used in Cajun cooking, cayenne pepper has been used as an herbal remedy for thousands of years. The chemical capsaicin gives cayenne pepper its heat. In the 1990s, British researchers found that cayenne pepper is a potential superfood for stress relief, fatigue and depression. The capsaicin in cayenne pepper helps increase blood flow to the brain and throughout the body, boosting mental function and energy.
You'll find capsaicin used as an ingredient in topical creams for arthritis and nerve pain. It reduces arthritis pain by decreasing substance P in your body, preventing it from sending signals to your brain. Adding cayenne pepper to your food may help you eat less and burn calories, according to a study by Purdue University.
An article in Prevention Magazine states that just the scent of oranges or other citrus fruits can relieve stress. Eating oranges, with their high Vitamin C content, reduces the stress hormone cortisol and helps you manage daily stress better. Studies conducted on rats undergoing stress indicated Vitamin C stopped the animals from showing the physical and emotional signs of stress. Any citrus fruit (or unsweetened fruit juice) can calm your nerves when anxiety strikes. And oranges are immune system boosters, guarding against colds and the flu.
Researchers have cited ginseng, along with ginkgo biloba, as a natural treatment for anxiety. One of the spice superfoods for stress relief, ginseng has been shown to prevent stress in animal studies. The saponins in ginseng affect the adrenal glands, which produce the stress hormones cortisone and adrenaline. Most people drink ginseng tea or take it as a supplement, but you can eat ginger root. Ginseng is also used as a weight loss aid and treatment for sexual dysfunction.
Periwinkle herb contains vincamine, which is well-regarded as a memory-booster. Taking a periwinkle herb supplement or drinking periwinkle tea helps increase blood flow to the brain, enabling you to think clearly during stressful times. Periwinkle herb is used in Europe as a treatment for dementia.
Blueberries are one of the best superfoods for stress relief- or whatever ails you. They're packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin K and manganese, but their real power lies in the phytonutrients they contain. Blueberries get their blue color from anthocyanins. One of several antioxidant groups of phytonutrients in this nutritious fruit, anthocyanins help protect cells against free radicals and offer cognitive and cardiovascular benefits. Blueberries boost brain function and memory for all age groups, helping you stay focused during stressful times.
Low in sugar and loaded with stress-reducing folate (Vitamin B9) and Vitamin B6, avocados are a tasty addition to salads and sandwiches. This nutrient-heavy superfood is also a great source of protein and fiber. Avocados are high in glutathione, an antioxidant that helps cleanse the liver and rid the body of toxins that cause anxiety. If you develop acne or other skin problems when you're stressed-out, the Vitamin E, Vitamin C and high oleic acid (a monosatured fatty acid) in avocados help regenerate compromised skin cells and stop irritation.
Salmon is one of the best superfoods for stress relief because it contains several key nutrients, including Omega 3 fatty acids, and magnesium and B-complex vitamins. Studies have shown that foods with Omega 3 fatty acids containing eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) can reduce anxiety and depression when consumed on a regular basis. B-complex vitamins help the body make mood-regulating serotonin and melatonin, an antioxidant that gives you a feeling of well-being and helps you fall asleep. Magnesium has been called nature's “chill pill” and magnesium deficiency can cause stress, depression and insomnia.
Mint does more than flavor food and fresh up your mouth. Its aroma triggers the salivary glands and glands that secrete digestive enzymes. Anxiety often causes stomach problems that interfere with digestion, and mint aids the digestive process even before you've taken a bite. Mint's fresh aroma can relieve stress-related nausea or headaches. Mint tea or a supplement containing mint may alleviate the fatigue and depression associated with anxiety. This study published by The Dhaka University Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, shows that mint is a mild stimulant that can aid mental function during times of stress or low energy. Studies also indicate that people who chew mint gum are more alert and have better memories than people who don't include mint in their daily routine.
You can use mint leaves or mint extract to flavor food or make tea. Mint leaves contain stress-fighting Vitamin C, antioxidants and magnesium. It's has dietary fiber, iron and potassium as well, nutrients you might not associate with such a delicate herb. Although considered a garnish or flavoring by many people, mint is one of the most important superfoods for stress relief.
The amino acid tryptophan in turkey causes your brain to release serotonin. This hormone calms you down and relieves anxiety, negative thoughts and poor concentration. Avoid the salt and preservatives of processed turkey, which can raise blood pressure, and eat only sodium-free, organic turkey for the best anxiety-reducing benefits. Turkey contains Vitamins B12 and B6 to boost mood and energy-producing vitamins B3 and B2.
14. Pumpkin, Sunflower, and Sesame Seeds
You don't have to give up crunchy snacks to eat healthy. Salt-free pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds contain stress-relieving magnesium. Magnesium supports mood by acting as a conduit for serotonin and other neurotransmitters. You can carry a bag of seeds with you to munch on whenever you need a quick, anti-stress pick-me-up. Sunflower seeds contain tryptophan, which signals your body to produce more serotonin, and sesame seeds are high in energy-boosting Vitamin B1 and iron. A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds has 48% of the daily recommended intake of magnesium, plus 74% of the DRI of manganese to control blood sugar.
A diet low in zinc has been shown to increase anxiety disorders in some patients. A quarter cup of cashews contains 21% of the DRI of zinc and 29% of the DRI for magnesium. Don't overdo it, though -cashews are relatively high in calories compared to other superfoods for stress relief, clocking in at 221 calories for a quarter cup. Eating cashews in moderation may provide enough zinc and magnesium to guard against anxiety. Including cashews and other nuts in your diet at least twice a week also reduces your chance of gaining weight – as long as you don't binge!
Garlic – “the stinking rose” offers dozens of health benefits. It contains antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and guard against colds, cancer and heart disease. Anxiety wreaks havoc with your immune system, and the antioxidants in garlic (including the powerful compound allicin) keep your body strong enough to stay healthy during stressful times. Garlic helps regulate blood pressure and reduces cholesterol and triglycerides. If you are prone to high blood pressure during times of stress, or if your family has a history of cardiovascular disease, increasing your intake of garlic can be a lifesaver. Tip – use fresh garlic instead of garlic powder. Like other raw vegetables, it tastes better and has more health benefits
Oatmeal triggers serotonin production in your brain to give you a pleasant, calm feeling. Choose a canister of Quaker Oats or another brand over flavored, pre-packaged oatmeal, which usually contains sugar, artificial sweeteners or preservatives. Cooking oatmeal the old-fashioned way means it will take longer to digest, prolonging serotonin's calming effect. Raw, unprocessed oatmeal has mood-enhancing zinc, magnesium and Vitamin B1, making it one of the best superfoods for stress relief.
Groats are the whole grain version of oats, and are usually sold only as horse feed. Groats are cut up into smaller pieces and sold as steel-cut oats. Steel cut oats take longer to cook than rolled oats, which are rolled out, flattened steamed groats. Most oatmeal sold in stores is rolled; steel cut oats and groats are healthier. You can buy groats online and from health food stores. It takes a few hours to cook groats, but they provide more nutrients than store-bought oatmeal. Groats are high in protein, potassium and calcium.
A 2014 study conducted by the University of Baltimore showed that teens who ate more yogurt and other fermented foods than their peers experienced less stress. Teens who were at risk for social anxiety benefited the most, according to the study. The probiotics in fermented food improve gut bacteria, and there's a gut/brain link that helps reduce social anxiety. Another study, at UCLA's School of Medicine, involved 36 women between the ages of 18 and 53. Women who ate yogurt twice a day experienced reduced activity in the emotional region of the brain and increased activity in the decision-making part of the brain. Eating a cup or two of non-sweetened yogurt is great for improving your calcium intake, and it's one of the best superfoods for stress relief.
Pistachios join the list of superfoods for stress relief due to their high magnesium, Vitamin B6 and iron content. A study at Penn State concluded that pistachios may reduce your reaction to everyday stress. Diets containing pistachio nuts were shown to relax blood vessels in participants who had normal blood pressure and high cholesterol. Pistachios only contain 4 calories each, and the rhythmic act of shelling each nut may be calming for some people. Decaying pistachios may develop a toxic mold called aflatoxin, so choose fresh, organic nuts and avoid ones bleached or dyed during processing.
20. Ginkgo Biloba
Gingko biloba, derived from one of the oldest species of trees, is a best-selling herbal supplement used to treat dozens of conditions. It's been used successfully in Germany and other countries to treat dementia and generalized anxiety disorder. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research showed that EGb 761®, a gingko biloba extract, worked as well for anxiety disorder as benzodiazepines, but had no side effects. Anti-anxiety drugs may cause nausea, blurred vision, clumsiness, slurred speech and dizziness. People who suffer from occasional stress can take an antioxidant-rich gingko biloba supplement to soothe frayed nerves. Flavonoids and terpenoids, two substances in ginkgo biloba, protect cells from free radicals and ill effects created by stress.
Wheatgrass is One of the Best Superfoods for Stress Relief, and You Can Find it in HappyGirl, Zeal O2 and REVV
At Lifeforce Nutraceuticals,we offer three wheatgrass supplements to relieve stress and improve overall health.
HappyGirl Mood Enhancment Supplement harnesses the power of high-value wheatgrass with added B-complex vitamins to neutralize anxiety and mood swings regardless of the cause. Whether you feel anxious due to a job interview, everyday stress, menopause or PMS, HappyGirl can help you feel like yourself in no time. The proprietary blend of herbs added to Happy Girl's wheatgrass includes several superfoods for stress relief- ginger, gingko biloba, green tea extract, cayenne pepper and ginseng. Happy Girl isn't just for women– men and seniors can use it, too! Read more about Happy Girl here:
REVV Natural Energy Supplement is a 100% natural source of instant energy and vitality. These delicious chocolate wafers are made with high-grade wheatgrass, and the superfoods cocoa and periwinkle herbs, two of the superfoods for stress relief. We've included caffeine and L-taurine to increase focus and give you even more energy. Read more about REVV here.
Many people with high stress levels are overweight due to a poor diet. Zeal O2 Natural Weight Loss Supplement is a great addition to any healthy weight loss program. Zeal O2 offers all the health benefits of wheatgrass, with its hundreds of nutrients, including magnesium, B-complex vitamins and amino acids. The herbal blend of superfoods added to wheatgrass include cayenne pepper, gingko biloba, green tea extract, ginseng and ginger – and we've added Citrus Aurantium (bitter orange) to help you burn more fat safely, without the dangerous side effects of ephedra. Read more about Zeal O2 here.
We're so sure you'll love Zeal O2, REVV and HappyGirl, we offer a money-back guarantee. If you're not happy with any Wheatgrass Love product, you can send the unused portion back for a 100% refund. Always talk to your doctor before taking any dietary supplement.