Don’t worry, eat happy! Foods that actually calm you down

Calming foodsWhile there are many ways to manage stress in your life, like exercise and meditation, the foods you eat can also play an important role in helping you stay calm. For example, foods high in minerals like magnesium and zinc can stimulate the body’s serotonin production, which helps regulate mood. And foods high in vitamins B and C can regulate levels of cortisol, a stress-induced hormone.

It sounds too good to be true: Nosh on your favorite foods and feel more relaxed and less stressed? But it’s true! The next time you’re at the grocery store, look for these calming foods to put in your cart:

  • Nuts: While cortisol and adrenaline are important compounds which allow your body to fight through stress, it’s important to return them to relaxed levels when the stressful event has passed. The omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts and almonds can help regulate levels of each in the body.
  • Whole Grains: Foods containing whole grains are rich in magnesium and tryptophan, which stimulate the release of the calming compound serotonin. Magnesium deficiency has also been linked to increased anxiety.
  • Berries: The elevated levels of vitamin C in these “super-foods” can help your body and mind battle stress and remain cool by lowering blood pressure and regulating cortisol levels.
  • Coconuts: While tasting these treats may provide several physical health benefits, a whiff may be enough to calm the nerves.  Studies show that sniffing coconut can help slow your heart rate and soothe the mind.
  • Dark Chocolate: Sampling a little cocoa can help lower your blood pressure naturally. It can also help regulate levels of stress-induced hormones, possibly due to the emotional lift of indulging in this sweet treat (just make sure it’s in moderation!).

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Photo credit: Lee McCoy

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