Being stressed out all the time can have more than one negative side effect. Stress can impact sleep quality, weaken the immune system and lead to breakouts, wrinkles and weight gain. No fun, right? The answer, however, to your stress and its impact on the body can may be found in your kitchen of all places.
If you're constantly feeling stressed and want to help defend your body against the side effects of stress, consider adding more of these foods into your diet:
Stress-Fighting Food No. 1: Blueberries
How It Combats Stress: Antioxidants to enhance the body's natural defenses and improve our responses to stressors. Also known as adaptogens.
How to Try It: Blend them up in a smoothie with vanilla protein powder, unsweetened almond milk and flaxseeds (which also provide inflammation-fighting omega-3 essential fatty acids).
Stress-Fighting Food No. 2: Dark Chocolate
How It Combats Stress: May lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and provides an additional boost of antioxidants.
How to Try It: Melted and drizzled over one serving of fresh strawberries.
Stress-Fighting Food No. 3: Dairy Milk
How It Combats Stress: B vitamins, vitamin D and calcium to reduce anxiety and help you wind down.
How to Try It: Warmed up with a pinch of cinnamon to better regulate blood sugar just before bed.
Stress-Fighting Food No. 4: Oatmeal
How It Combats Stress: Assists the body in producing serotonin, also known as the happy hormone, to reduce stress and anxiety.
How to Try It: Prepared with cinnamon and fresh apples to keep blood sugar stable.
Stress-Fighting Food No. 5: Oranges
How It Combats Stress: Vitamin C to lower blood pressure and cortisol and provide antioxidant protection for the body's cells against the effects of stress.
How to Try It: On top of a salad made with dark, leafy greens (see next point).
Stress-Fighting Food No. 6: Pumpkin Seeds
How It Combats Stress: Provides zinc to boost the immune system and support cognitive health as well as magnesium, a mineral that calms the central nervous system.
How to Try It: Combined in a trail mix with oats, walnuts (which also provide calming magnesium), dried goji berries and cacao nibs.
Stress-Fighting Food No. 7: Asparagus
How It Combats Stress: Folic acid, a B vitamin shown to support cognitive health and reduce stress.
How to Try It: Roasted with just a light misting of extra virgin olive oil for omega-3s and fresh lemon juice for more vitamin C.
Stress-Fighting Food No. 8: Cashews
How It Combats Stress: Also loaded with zinc to reduce anxiety and help you feel more at ease.
How to Try It: Ground into cashew butter that can be spread on sprouted bread before a workout.
Stress-Fighting Food No. 9: Avocado
How It Combats Stress: Anti-inflammatory omega-3s to calm you as well as fiber to fill you up and keep you energized to combat that drained feeling.
How to Try It: Blended into a green smoothie for a creamy texture.
Stress-Fighting Food No. 10: Dark, Leafy Greens
How It Combats Stress: Whether it's kale, spinach or mustard greens, any dark green will provide minerals like calcium and magnesium to calm the central nervous system.
How to Try It: Either in that salad or baked to make a more nutritious chip.
Add more of these foods to your weekly diet and see how they impact your stress level. You'll be reaping all their nutritious benefits no matter how you enjoy them.