Stress has become a regular part of the lives of working professionals and homemakers. During stress, our bodies manufacture the hormone cortisol, which increases our hunger as a survival mechanism. The body craves foods high in sugar, carbohydrates and fat to reduce stress. However, such foods don’t help reduce stress in the long run. If not treated early, stress can lead to depression and other mental issues.
Mentioned below are five healthy foods that can aid in the reduction of stress.
1. Citrus Fruits
If one feels the craving for something sweet during a stressful day, it is better to go for fruits than candy bars or pastries. Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and grapefruits have a sweet taste apart from health benefits that cakes and tarts do not have. Psychological stress causes oxidative damage and inflammation. Citric acid present in the above-mentioned fruits has been found to counter such effects.
2. Herbal tea
During stress, the neurotransmitter hormone serotonin, which controls mood, emotions, memory, cognition and dopamine, which affects movement, hunger and pleasure, are suppressed, which causes depression. Tea contains caffeine and L-theanine, which boost serotonin and dopamine levels and also reduces the excess cortisol. Herbal teas like regular tea liquor, green tea, chamomile tea, peppermint tea, ginger tea and lavender tea are ideal for de-stressing.
3. Dark chocolate
Several scientific studies have confirmed the health benefits of dark chocolate. Eating 40 grams of dark chocolate every day, for two weeks at a stretch, helps lower cortisol levels in patients and relaxes them.
4. Coconut Water
Coconut water reduces the neuromuscular excitation associated with stress. Increased cortisol levels lead to lowering of potassium and rise in sodium levels in the blood. Reduced potassium levels create neuromuscular tension and cause twitching of muscles. Coconut provides enough potassium to counter these effects.
5. Calcium-rich foods
Chronic stress affects our bones as raised cortisol levels cause depletion of calcium from the bones. Over time, this leads to poor bone health and can cause osteoporosis. Foods rich in calcium, such as mustard greens, collard greens, broccoli, kale, poppy and sesame seeds, can reverse the loss.