There are foods that are rich in vitamins that can help you do just that. Not only will you be able to pocket the cost of your mood elevators, your overall health just might improve, too, since you’ll be eating food that is better for you.
Fatty fish and tuna, both rich in omega-3 fats, can prevent surges in stress hormones. They may also help protect against heart disease and mood disorders like depression and PMS. A recent study found that consuming fatty fish might help relieve feelings of anxiety during depression.
To maintain a steady supply of feel-good omega-3s, set your mind to have 3 ounces of salmon, tuna, sardines, trout or mackerel at least twice a week. A 3-ounce serving of fish is about the size of a personal checkbook.
Turkey is also considered a feel-good food because it contains L-tryptophan, an amino acid that triggers the release of the “feel-good” chemical serotonin in the brain. Serotonin promotes calmness or even tiredness which may help you get a bit more sleep. To limit fat and calorie intake, choose white meat cuts of turkey. You should also stick to the 3-ounce portion which is about the size of a deck of cards.
Your immune system is an essential component of your overall well-being. Nuts like almonds and walnuts are packed with vitamins B and E, which help boost the immune system, lower blood pressure and keep oxygen flowing throughout the body.
Most nuts contain zinc, a mineral which helps the body metabolize fatty acids and produce serotonin. Zinc also helps strengthen the immune system, which is often weakened during stressful times. Good sources of zinc are Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pine nuts and walnuts. Enjoy about 1 ounce of nuts per serving (24 almonds, 16 cashews, 49 pistachios OR 14 walnuts).
Research indicates that feelings of anxiety may be associated with vitamin B deficiency. Feel free to indulge in avocados which contain the B vitamins essential for healthy nerves and blood cells. Avocados are also high in monounsaturated fat and potassium, both of which help lower blood pressure.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, consuming sufficient potassium is one of the best methods of reducing high blood pressure. Half of an avocado yields 487 milligrams of potassium – more than you will get from a medium-sized banana. For the health benefits associated with this feel-good fruit, consume 1 ounce or 1/5 of a medium avocado.
Oranges are high in vitamin C, which is known to lower blood pressure and cortisol, the stress hormone. Since cortisol naturally depletes your body’s storehouse of vitamin C, consuming vitamin C-rich foods during times of tension is essential. You can always get a quick jolt of vitamin C by either eating a whole orange or drink a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice without added sugar.
When we’re stressed out, our bodies require antioxidants and vitamin C to help repair and protect cells. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants that repair and protect your body from the effects of stress. Low-calorie blueberries also provide a hefty dose of stress-fighting vitamin C. To maximize the health benefits of blueberries, you can add a 1-cup serving (1/2 pint container) to your morning oatmeal or yogurt, or simply enjoy them as a snack.
Diets too low in magnesium may trigger headaches and fatigue, which just make the stress harder to bear. Magnesium helps lower your stress level by keeping you in a calm state. One cup of raw spinach (1/2 cup cooked) can help replenish your magnesium levels. Exchange spinach for either iceberg or romaine lettuce in salads, or cook some up with a bit of garlic and olive oil.
Beef contains high levels of zinc, iron and B vitamins, which are all known to help stabilize mood. Beef is also rich in folic acid, which causes your brain to produce enkephalin. Enkephalins function much like endorphins and can help you de-stress and relax. Whenever possible, choose lean versions of ground beef. Opt for a 3-ounce serving (about the size of a deck of cards) a few times a week.
Milk is high in antioxidants, vitamins B2 and B12, in addition to protein and calcium. The protein lactium has a calming effect because it lowers blood pressure, while the potassium can help relieve muscle spasms associated with anxiety. Choose a 1-cup serving of skim or low-fat milk instead of one of the higher-fat varieties.
And, yes, chocolate is good for you. Scientific research has shown that eating about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily for two weeks reduces stress hormone levels in persons who describe themselves as highly tense. Cocoa boosts your body’s level of neurochemicals, which act on parts of the brain to help produce a sense of euphoria and relaxation. Savor one or two small squares of dark chocolate (about 1 ounce) and melt your tension away.