17 Superfoods to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Does this sound familiar?
It’s another busy week, and as the papers and workload start to pile up, you can’t help but feel stressed and anxious. Your kids are demanding all kinds of attention, and you can't seem to get anywhere on time...
Here's a little comfort:
Stress is a normal and inevitable part of life, and you can manage it many times through eating. Yes, eating – and not instant, junk and fast food – but nutritious and healthy types of food known as superfoods! Next to using a special grounding blend of essential oils, eating the right food has helped me get through difficult times, and I am sure it will help you!
Superfoods are packed with vitamins, minerals and nutrients that help you reduce stress and anxiety effectively. These superfoods also have other health benefits that improve the body and prevent various diseases. Having regular exercise and adding this superfoods list into your diet and you will start feeling more relaxed and refreshed in no time!
Spirulina is the blue-green algae that gives ocean water its dark green color. Eating Spirulina dates back to the 16th century when the Aztecs considered it as a common food source. You can eat it as it is or take it in tablet, powder, or flake form. Spirulina is packed with protein, vitamin B, iron and is known to fight stress, fatigue, and depression – perfect for when you’re feeling down and tired.
I like to combine it with the fresh water algae Chlorella, I noticed that that combination keeps me energetic and positive, but also prevents me from getting colds and influenza. My favorite is the Organic Ocean Cleaned Spirulina and Chlorella powder mix by Actif, which I mix into my green morning smoothie.
2. Dark chocolate
Who wouldn’t want chocolate in their diet? It’s great that it’s part of the superfoods list!
Cocoa is not the same as Cacao. Cacao are the beans from the Cacao Fruit Tree, also known as Theobroma Cacao. Cocoa is the heated for of acao, and is used in most chocolate bars.
Cocoa is rich in flavonoids, which is good for the heart. Dark Chocolate is also known to lower blood pressure and improve mood. Researchers found that eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate each day for two weeks lowered stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines.
But remember: this only applies to dark chocolate. Look for those with at least 70% cocoa. The higher the percentage, the bitter—and better—it is. So keep on snacking! Science has you covered.
*Update: I actually went a step further and started to eat raw cacoa powder and beans. This is only for the die-hards, because the taste can be quite bitter. But I love it!
To hide the bitterness, you can mix cocoa with walnuts, hazelnuts, banana, coconut milk and banana for a crazy filling smoothie.
3. Bee Pollen
Bee pollen is not the same as natural honey, honeycomb, bee venom or royal jelly. It is the powdery, seemingly sweet substance gathered by bees from flowers. Bee pollen is known to improve strength and endurance in exercise – in fact, a study conducted by the British Sports Council saw that those who regularly consumed bee pollen got 40-50% stronger. Need an extra boost in strength? Why not try bee pollen?
4. Chia Seeds
Originating from Mexico and Guatemala, chia seeds or Salvia hispanica are the black and white seeds commonly found in bread, breakfast cereals, and granola bars. They’re also commonly added to smoothies and easily incorporated into healthy drinks with the push of a blender button.
The word “chia”, according to folklore, means “strength”, and the seeds serve as energy boosters for the ancient Aztecs. Chia seeds are a rich source of fiber, protein, and omega-3 and are healthier and tastier alternatives to processed grains.
Add organic chia seeds to your diet by sprinkling them over cereals, smoothies, yogurt, ice cream, and muffins!
5. The Maca Root
Women suffering from hormonal imbalance or menstrual problems can eat maca root to improve or relieve their condition. The maca root contains carbohydrates, protein, fats, and dietary fiber. It also has iron, magnesium, selenium, and calcium. Because of these, it is said that the maca root can improve energy, stamina, and memory. It certainly helped me with my mood swings and crazy menstrual cramps.
I personally don't like the Maca flavor, so I usually camouflage it in hot dishes like a pasta sauce or soup. Maca actually is more effective heated up, so don't hesitate just throwing it in when you're cooking!
You can find good quality organic Maca powder here.
6. Dulse Seaweed
Dulse Seaweed (Palmaria palmata), also called dillisk or dilsk, is red algae found in the northern part of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It is also common in Iceland and is dried and sold as a snack food from stalls in various seaside towns.
Dulse seaweed is delicious when fried and tastes a lot like bacon! Unlike bacon, however, this superfood is very nutritious and contains iodine. Iodine is important since it helps the thyroid gland produce and regulate hormones. Dulse seaweed fights stress by maintaining the proper hormone levels in the body.
Chicory (Chicorium intybus), or sometimes called blue sailor’s succor or wild succor, can be identified by its bright blue flowers. Its leaves are eaten as a vegetable or salad and its roots are used as coffee alternatives. Chicory is very useful since it can be used to relieve conditions like constipation, diarrhea, liver, gallbladder disorders, and rapid heartbeat.
I especially like the coffee version of chicory, because instead of making me jitterish (like coffee does) it makes me mellow and alert.
Spinach or Spinacia oleracea is a vegetable popularized by a certain cartoon sailor. Contrary to the toons, though, eating spinach will not give you super strength. However, spinach is rich in iron and is known to restore energy and improve blood quality. It also contains magnesium, which controls cortisol levels and promotes physical well-being.
Spinach is easy to include in your diet and is an excellent and delicious addition to pasta, soups, casseroles and smoothies. Nothing is better than fresh spinach, but in some circumstances spinach powder can be more convenient.
9. Turnip Greens
Turnip greens basically pertain to a turnip’s leaves and are not to be confused with actual turnip itself. Turnip greens contain choline, a nutrient that maintains and aids the basic functions of cells. Because of choline, turnip greens can help you sleep, move and learn better. These leafy vegetables also help fight depression by preventing the formation of homocysteine (amino acids that are linked to depression) in the body.
Remember when you picked your way around mom’s broccoli? As it turns out, this vegetable is one of the healthiest greens. Eating a cup of broccoli provides more than the recommended daily dose of Vitamin C and fiber. It helps keep your digestive track healthy and helps get rid of toxins in the body. It can also keep you healthy when stressed and anxious.
No time to cook, or not a fan of broccoli? No worries, try out the broccoli tablets Broccomax from Jarrow.
11. Romaine Lettuce
If you eat salad or club sandwiches, then there is a good chance that you have already eaten romaine lettuce. Romaine lettuce is a popular choice for salads and other dishes because of its crunchy and non-bitter taste.
It is also very healthy and is rich in vitamins A and C. Both vitamins can help you fight stress by boosting the immune system and fighting free radicals that often cause cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
Bananas are a popular fruit for many reasons. Did you know that bananas can also help you fight stress? Bananas contain natural sugars like sucrose and fructose and fiber that are needed by the body to function. Bananas are a better snack alternative to unhealthy chips and sweets. They also help relieve morning sickness and muscle cramps.
The kiwifruit (often shortened to kiwi) or Chinese Gooseberry is a unique, sweet-sour and nutritious fruit. Interestingly, it originated from China and was brought to New Zealand in the 20th century – where it was named after the country’s national bird and was vastly commercialized by New Zealand growers. Like banana, kiwi is rich in potassium and helps relieve high blood pressure or edema. Kiwi is also rich in fiber and helps with digestion and constipation.
Originating from Barbados in the 17th century, the grapefruit is a hybrid of sweet orange and pomelo or shaddock. It is sour to semi-sweet. The grapefruit contains vitamin C, pectin, and lycopene, which are all beneficial and can help lower cholesterol levels.
15. Berries: Blueberries, Goji Berries, Blackberries, Acai berries
Berries, in general, are great stress busters. They contain antioxidants and vitamin C, which help repair and protect cells. A study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry measured the antioxidant content of various fruits and vegetables. The study revealed that blueberries and blackberries ranked highest in antioxidants among the fruits studied. Antioxidants are disease-fighting compounds and having a weekly dose of berries can keep you healthy and stress-free.
Fresh or frozen berries are great in smoothies, but when I'm traveling I like to use this freeze dried organic Acai Berry Powder.
Salmon is a delicious fish staple and guilt-free superfood that needs to be in your diet. Although it is “oily,” it is healthy and is the best source of omega-3. Omega-3 is good for the heart and protects it when you are tense or anxious since omega-3 maintains cortisol and adrenaline levels. A study from Ohio State University revealed that consuming 12 to 15 ounces of salmon lowers stress and anxiety by more than 20%.
17. Teas: Green tea, Matcha tea, Hibiscus Tea, Oolong Tea, and Chamomile Tea
Hibiscus tea packs a lot of vitamin C and is known to lower blood pressure.
Oolong tea is “the slimming tea” and can increase metabolism to about 10 to 12 percent. A faster metabolism helps burn sugar and fat and helps reduce your weight.
Matcha tea, on the other hand, is a form of Japanese green tea that contains antioxidants. As mentioned above, antioxidants help fight disease-causing free radicals.
Chamomile tea is calming and promotes better sleep and relaxation. Research has shown that chamomile extracts can reduce the anxiety level of patients with general anxiety disorder.
Whichever tea you choose, they all help relieve stress and promote good health.
These 17 superfoods offers so many benefits to our health and ultimately a remedy to stress relievers! A proper and balanced diet is important. It can greatly contribute to your health and well-being and can reduce stress and anxiety. Let’s not forget exercise! This is equally important since it releases unwanted wastes and toxins from the body and produces happy hormones. You also momentarily forget about your problems at home or at work. A good diet and proper exercise are both key to living a happy, healthy and balanced life.
Thank you for reading!
Azima is a certified nutritionist and wellness adviser from Elken Singapore. She works as an Early Childhood Educator on promoting healthy lifestyle and mental well-being. A co-founder and an avid blogger for Nutrichium.com.