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Superfoods Are the New Comfort Food

When we’re stressed and craving comfort food, sweets and other carbs often come to mind. However, a slice of cake with gooey frosting or a large order of greasy fries provides only temporary solace. How can you reduce stress in a more lasting way? With superfoods that actually nourish and nurture your body.

According to the National Institutes of Health, a superfood is one that goes beyond providing basic nutrients to provide additional health benefits. And these benefits are often directly related to stress reduction and positive mood. Kate Brookie, a PhD candidate in nutritional psychology at the Otago in New Zealand, explains it like this: "Whole foods, especially fruit and vegetables, provide your brain with the nutrients necessary for key processes involved in mood and well-being.” [1]

Here’s how four superfoods can help you reduce stress:

  1. Leafy greens: Vegetables like kale and spinach contain nutrients such as folate, which helps your body make the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine not only regulates the pleasure centers in your brain, it’s also involved in motivation and drive. That means getting enough folate may help you move purposefully toward your goals, which is a big help when you’re under stress.
  2. Berries: Berries are high in antioxidant pigments such as anthocyanins, which improve our reactions to stress. They also provide vitamin C, which research suggests may lower both the stress hormone cortisol and blood pressure (which may be higher than usual when you’re under stress).
  3. Complex Carbs: Not all carbs are bad for you. A complex carb like oatmeal is metabolized slowly by your body, so it doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes. Better still, high-quality carbohydrates help your brain regulate the mood-stabilizing neurotransmitter serotonin. Oatmeal also makes a great vehicle for those antioxidant-rich berries mentioned above.
  4. Dark Chocolate: If you have a sweet tooth, dark chocolate in moderation is a good choice. It contains antioxidants that can lower blood pressure, and, as many people have noted, chocolate creates feelings of happiness. To ensure you’re getting a healthy dose of antioxidants, just make sure your dark chocolate square has at least 65 percent cocoa.

Other superfoods to boost your mood include unsweetened yogurt, which contains digestion-easing probiotics, and foods that contain heart-healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, salmon, and avocado.

Which foods help you combat stress?




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