Nutrition • 05.12.2016 • Julia Denner

Can’t Relax? Say Goodbye to Stress with These 5 Foods

We all have stressful days at work or at home. The to-do list never seems to get shorter and there are many deadlines to meet – we know. During times of stress, we often just grab a slice of pizza or some other unhealthy fast food. Besides, who has time to cook something healthy?

Studies have shown that your diet can influence your personal stress level. Therefore, eating smart can help you relax and deal better with hectic situations. The following five foods have earned the name of “nerve food”:

1. Walnuts

A handful of walnuts

Nuts, and in particular walnuts, are a real power food and the ideal snack when you are stressed. Walnuts have many health benefits: They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce the risk of depression. Walnuts also contain tryptophan. This is an amino acid used in the production of the “feel-good hormone” serotonin. Eating a handful of nuts a day is a simple way to improve your mood. And people who are happy tend to be less stressed. You can enjoy them as a snack, but you can also sprinkle them over your salad or your breakfast oatmeal.

2. Oatmeal

Oatmeal with walnuts and a banana

And speaking of oatmeal… It is much more than just the perfect breakfast for runners . If you have a busy day of meetings ahead of you, then a bowl of oatmeal is just what you need. The hearty breakfast is packed with fiber, which causes blood sugar levels to rise slowly and steadily rather than spiking. This means that oatmeal can keep you feeling satisfied until your lunch break.

Our tip: Sprinkle some cinnamon on your oatmeal and stir in a spoonful of honey. This helps reduce your stress level while strengthening your immune system at the same time.

3. Green leafy vegetables

Bowl with baby spinach, blueberries and goat cheese

When you don’t have much time for lunch, it’s really tempting to just grab a burger. But next time try eating a salad. Why? It’s lighter on calories and thus better for your figure. Plus, green leafy vegetables like spinach contain folic acid. Your body needs this B vitamin to build the neurotransmitter dopamine, which can help relieve and ease symptoms of depression. Also, a light salad won’t sit heavy on your stomach like a greasy burger. This makes you feel more energized in the afternoon and helps you deal better with stressful situations.

4. Blueberries

Smoothie with blueberries and chiaseeds

Speaking of salad, have you ever tried blueberries? The deep purple fruit is especially high in anthocyanins (antioxidants). These have been found to have many benefits on your health, especially in terms of reducing stress. Blueberries also contain vitamin C, which boosts your immune system. This is particularly important because people who are constantly stressed tend to be sick more often. Can’t find fresh blueberries at the supermarket? Then use frozen blueberries and mix them in with your warm oatmeal.

5. Dark chocolate

A few pieces of dark chocolate

Don’t they say “A piece of chocolate a day, keeps the doctor away”? 😉 There actually seems to be some truth to this saying, at least in terms of dark chocolate. A study published in the International Journal of Health Sciences found that the polyphenols (phytochemicals) contained in cocoa beans seem to reduce the level of stress hormones (especially cortisol) in your blood. So the next time you are up to your neck in work, enjoy the sensation of a piece of dark chocolate (minimum 70% cacao) melting on your tongue.

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Julia Denner

Julia is a dietitian and creative cook. She is passionate about traveling the world, exercising (outdoors) and trying out new restaurants and food. She is convinced that a varied diet and regular, hard training are the keys to success.


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  • Orion Antares

    My wife, a diabetic, actually found that oatmeal caused her blood sugar to spike sharply. This was with steel cut oats and she made it herself so she knew what was going into it.