It's normal to reach for sugary foods when we're stressed but these foods actually end up making us feel worse. Here are the foods you should be eating to combat the symptoms of stress.
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Nuts in general are great for health but cashews especially help fight stress. They have a high zinc content and low levels of zinc have been linked to anxiety and depression. Our bodies don't store zinc so it's important to get a good portion each day. Unsalted cashews are the better option and stick to a handful a day since cashews are high in calories. If you're bored of snacking on them, add them into a stir-fry or noodles.
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You don't have to eat a whole bar – you really shouldn't! – but just a couple of bites of dark chocolate lowers your stress hormones. And, because the antioxidants in cocoa also relaxes the walls of your blood vessels, it lowers your blood pressure too. For best results, get the ones that contain at least 70% cocoa.
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Magnesium helps regulate our emotions and foods like flaxseed, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are packed with it. Magnesium also alleviates depression and irritability and is especially useful in fighting PMS symptoms. Drizzle them over your cereal or oats every morning or snack on them throughout the day.
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An amino acid called tryptophan is present in turkey meat, and this helps to produce serotonin, a chemical that gives us a feeling of happiness. Tryptophan also encourages a sense of calm. Research has shown that argumentative people who were given tryptophan supplements became less argumentative at the end of the study.
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It's not just Popeye who feels better after some spinach, all of us do. Spinach contains folate, which produces dopamine, best described as a pleasure-inducing brain chemical. This helps you keep calm and put you in a better mood. A high intake of folate also lowers your risk of depression.
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All berries, such as strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, have a high vitamin C content, which has been shown to fight stress. Vitamin C also lowers blood pressure, which helps when you're stressed. Blueberries in particular improves your body's response to stress and fights against stress-related elements. Whichever berries you prefer, eat them fresh or frozen, the effects are the same.
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