Ready to eat your way to a relaxed and calm state? The following natural foods are not only chock full of power nutrients, but they will actually help you de-stress and chill out.
You know that getting a massage or meditating can help put you in a calm state, but did you know that the food you eat also affects your state of mind? We chatted with nutritionists to find out the best natural foods to help put you in your happy place — no prescription required.
Adding a few slices of avocado to your sandwich or salad does more than just amp up the flavor, it also helps to chill you out. "Avocados are high in B vitamins, especially B5 (pantothenic acid) and B6 which reduce stress by helping to maintain the nervous system," says nutritional consultant Rosalie Moscoe, author of the book, Frazzled Hurried Woman: Your Stress-Relief Guide to Thriving... Not Merely Surviving. Before you scarf down that large bowl of guacamole, be aware that avocados are high in calories (and nothing can ruin your Zen buzz faster than stepping on the scale the next morning and realizing you gained a few pounds) so limit your serving size to a few slices.
Think Brazil nuts are just for Christmas? Think again. "Brazil nuts keep anxiety at bay," says Moscoe, who explains that they have a high concentration of selenium which is an excellent mood elevator. "Selenium is also good for thyroid function. Brazil nuts also serve as an antioxidant that helps combat oxidative stress."
Not a fan of Brazil nuts? Almonds are high in magnesium, making them another great option. "Magnesium is known for relaxation properties, relaxing veins, arteries and makes for improved blood and oxygen circulation," says Moscoe.
Flaxseed is chock full of omega-3 essential fatty acids which help reduce anxiety.You can sprinkle some flaxseed in oatmeal, muffins and other dishes, or look for foods that contain this superfood, such as Kashi Go Lean Vanilla Almond Crunch. It not only contains protein to help you feel full, but Zen-inducing foods like almonds and flaxseed.
Go ahead, indulge a little. "Dark chocolate in moderation has been found to keep women calm," says Moscoe. "Chocolate contains calming magnesium and also gives a pleasure hit to the neurotransmitters. High quality chocolate with over 70 percent cocoa content also contains antioxidants."
Moscoe says this green powerfood is high in B vitamins which help calm nerves and brain cells.
This little seed looks like rice, but is actually a gluten-free and nutritionally complete whole grain. "Whole grains, such as quinoa and oatmeal, are complex carbohydrate-rich foods that raise your serotonin levels and boost your mood — plus help you relax," says Factor 75 founder Nick Wernimont.
"Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein, specifically tryptophan," says Moscoe. "Tryptophan is converted to serotonin (the happy neurotransmitter) which is a neurotransmitter that also helps you relax. Serotonin also can help you feel sleepy."
"Broccoli is packed with folic acid, which aids in stress reduction and vitamin C, which is the ultimate booster," says Wernimont. "One serving of broccoli contains more than 100 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement."
"Chomp down on something with a crunch," says health and fitness expert Kevin Lawrence. "Snacking on crunchy foods such as raw veggies like baby carrots, celery and snap peas is a great way to reduce stress, as the act of chewing releases tension in the jaw and neck."
Need more de-stressing tips?
Watch this video to learn about the calming benefits of stretching.
This post was sponsored by Kashi.