Stressed during the holidays?
Hey, anyone who doesn’t get a bit frazzled this time of year must originate from a different planet. I’ll admit that sometimes the crowded aisles and frantic fellow shoppers send me marching straight home, ditching my basket of goods and everything. But not to worry, superfoods are here to save the day! Why not calm the nerves and fill the belly at the same time? (Talk about racking up bonus points in life!)
And the best part: look no further than your refrigerator or pantry! Yes, there are many exotic, stress-relieving foods out there, but I thought it best to start with some amazing options which are probably already stocked in your kitchen. Check out the six nutritional suggestions below to help nip that stress in the bud this holiday season:
Loads of nutrients are contained within this lean, green cuisine. Spinach is a great source of vitamins C and K, carotenes, and folic acid. It is also a good source of magnesium and manganese.
Magnesium helps to balance levels of cortisol, a.k.a. the “stress” hormone and has a calming effect on the body. Cortisol received this nickname because it is produced at higher levels when the body is stressed and in fight-or-flight mode.
High in vitamin C, one orange may supply most—if not all—of the daily intake recommendation for vitamin C. This immune-boosting citrus fruit also contains a variety of other vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, folic acid, carotenes, and potassium.
The flavonoids present in oranges have antioxidant properties which help prevent cancer and fight free radicals, which are released in the body when stressed. One flavonoid in particular, hesperidin, is cited as lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol while also exhibiting strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Drink a cup of green tea daily for its high content of polyphenols and flavonoids. These antioxidants protect against multiple forms of cancer while supporting the immune system. Green tea is also a good detoxification aid for the body. It contains vitamins C, D, and K, and minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.
This fish boasts a very high content of omega-3 fatty acids, which protects against heart disease and also keeps cortisol regulated. Not only that, but salmon is an excellent source of protein, potassium, selenium, and vitamin B12. GABA, a calming neurotransmitter, is formed in part by vitamin B12. Deficiency in B12 can lead to anxiety and depression, so make sure you get plenty of it in your diet.
Oats contain B vitamins which encourage the production of serotonin, a.k.a. the “feel good hormone” in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that controls mood and in the appropriate levels, it helps you to feel positive and calm. Complex carbohydrates like oatmeal can stabilize blood sugar levels, also helping you to feel well balanced.
An extremely nutrient-dense food, this cruciferous vegetable has anticancer effects and even helps to lower blood pressure. Very rich in vitamin C, it also is a good source of vitamins K and A, folic acid, fiber, potassium, and magnesium. Folic acid helps stabilize mood and reducing anxiety, panic, and depression.
Other notable stress-relieving foods include: almonds, quinoa, pistachios, bananas, sunflower seeds, beets, blueberries, and dark chocolate.
Some of the aforementioned foods require little or no preparation. So opt for some healthy snacks and meals–they will help to boost your energy and resiliency during the hectic holidays.
Murray, M., Pizzorno, J, Pizzorno, L. (2005). The encyclopedia of healing goods: A comprehensive guide to the healing power of nature’s best medicine. New York, NY: Atria Books.