With the right nutrients, your body can overcome any environmental or internal stress. Our bodies are often out of balance, however, and correct diet is the answer. Mindfulness, exercise, and other techniques also help with stress, but you’ll be fighting an uphill battle unless you start by consuming the nutrients contained within certain stress-fighting foods.
Magnesium manages the stress hormone cortisol, and other essential minerals also help your body relax and come into harmony with its environment. Carbs and certain vitamins give your brain what it needs to produce beneficial neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which help manage stress. Each of the following five foods contains a piece of your nutritional stress-fighting puzzle:
Potassium helps lower blood pressure, so snack on a convenient banana the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Magnesium reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and healthy Swiss chard packs magnesium in abundance.
Folate is used to make dopamine in your brain, and spinach is one of the best vegan sources of folate.
Your body needs lots of carbohydrates to keep up with serotonin synthesis, so snacking on healthy, complex carbs in white rice can give you an instantaneous stress release.
Pistachios are a great source of potassium, which makes these green nuts surprisingly similar to bananas
Bananas are excellent sources of potassium, which reduces your blood pressure. Increased blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common sign of chronic stress. Over time, hypertension can lead to serious cardiovascular conditions, so eating a banana a day is a great way to keep stress in check.
Bananas are usually available fresh in their peels, but you can also eat bananas dried. Plus, bananas are incorporated into many smoothies and other fruit treats.
While people know bananas contain potassium, they don’t understand what this mineral does. Potassium plays a more critical role in cellular functioning than is commonly understood, and reducing blood pressure is only one of the ways this essential nutrient found in bananas can help with stress.
Slice up your bananas and put them on top of your cereal or vegan yogurt. You don’t have to handle messy peels to enjoy nutritious, stress-fighting bananas.
Magnesium helps your entire nervous system calm down, which is why it is useful for sleep. This essential mineral also soothes stress by reducing levels of cortisol, the hormone responsible for triggering feelings of terror or being overwhelmed. Magnesium helps you find your inner zen, and Swiss chard packs this mineral in abundance.
Swiss chard has a more powerful taste than other leafy greens, and it also has a thicker central portion. Therefore, it’s usually eaten boiled, but cooking chard this way could reduce its benefits.
Magnesium is often overlooked as a stress aid, and not many people are aware of Swiss chard’s high magnesium content. Swiss chard is also a great source of other nutrients, but its magnesium content is what makes it such a great stress-beater.
Here’s a recipe for a simple, vegan Swiss chard dish with garbanzo beans.
Spinach contains folate, an essential B vitamin that is necessary for the production of dopamine, serotonin, and other important neurotransmitters. It’s often difficult for vegans to get adequate folate since this substance is most commonly found in animal products. Spinach, however, provides the stress-fighting folate your body needs to feel good and relax.
Spinach tastes great raw—you can snack on baby spinach leaves right out of the package to get an instant folate boost. It’s also easy to bake, boil, or cook spinach in a variety of other conventional ways.
It’s well-known that spinach contains iron, but it surprises people to learn this leafy green also contains B vitamins and vitamin C.
If you bake spinach into gluten-free bread, your loaves become more nutritious while also taking on an attractive, speckled colour scheme.
Nothing beats stress like some honest-to-goodness carbs, but we bet you didn’t know why. The truth is that complex carbs, like those present in white rice, provide your body with the building blocks it needs to make serotonin, which makes you feel good and relaxed.
There are many forms of white rice, and some are stickier than others. You need to cook rice before you eat it, and it stays good for 2-3 days when refrigerated.
While it’s true that white rice has a high glycemic index, this attribute is actually a benefit when it comes to stress-busting. There are few better sources of complex carbs, and white rice also contains more essential vitamins and minerals than you’d expect.
Try some vegan fried rice with spinach and Swiss chard. If you’re feeling adventurous, add a few shelled pistachios for flavour.
Like bananas, pistachios contain lots of potassium. Unlike bananas, however, pistachios also contain lots of healthy fats, which can help provide your body with long-lasting, stress-defeating energy.
After you shell the first few, you’ll find eating pistachios to be as addictive as it is nutritious. One of the few dishes that contains these nuts aside from the shelled nuts themselves is pistachio ice cream.
It’s common knowledge that pistachios contain fatty acids just like other tree nuts. The fact that pistachios contain potassium, however, often takes people by surprise.
Try this delicious pistachio pudding the next time you’re overwhelmed and feel like hitting the kitchen.