If someone were to device a ‘stress-o-meter’ and go out to measure the stress levels, we are quite sure, he will have to make a new device each time, because considering the stress levels in our life, the device will probably blow up. Studies show that the stress level in our lives has only increased over the years and this is in spite of the latest advancement in technology. Work-life balance seems to be a thing of the past and ‘weekends off’ is a word people yearn to hear. Between all the running we do for our work, families and ourselves – seldom do we stop and think about the lifestyle we are leading. Erratic sleeping schedule, untimely meals, binge eating, weekend parties and all other crazy stuff we do through the week leads to increased stress levels over a period of time.
There is nothing like chocolate that soothes your nerves. Just the thought of some warm chocolate, your favorite book and cosy corner is enough to lower your stress levels. Recent study shows that eating around 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate each day for two weeks lowers the stress hormones cortisol & catecholamines. Chocolate stimulates the release of serotonin, a natural antidepressant and endorphins which are also known as ‘feel good hormones’. Also the cocoa in chocolate is known to have flavanoids that have a lot of health benefits like reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the body. A cup of hot chocolate, a sumptuous chocolate cake, or a rich chocolate truffle should do the trick, best taken before bed time.
Cheese is one food item that can be combined with any dish to make it richer and of course, more flavorful. Although known to have a hit fat content, cheese is also a good stress buster. You can add little amounts of cheddar, gruyere or Swiss cheese to your pasta or try a cheese potato mash and if you are experimental, then even add some to your Mac and cheese. Eating a high carb meal 2 hours before bed time is known to increase the level of serotonin in the brain. Alternatively you can also try the healthier cottage cheese packed with vitamins B12 & B2 for some relief. A fondue is a great option to call some friends over and relax while digging into warm and cheesy food.
Don’t go by the look of it. Though small in size, blueberries are a perfect combination of vitamin C and antioxidants that aid in the balance of stress. Available throughout the year, the antioxidants in blueberries protect the cells against free radicals that lead to cancer and heart diseases. The versatile nature of blueberry makes is usable in any form – you can make a puree, compote, smoothie or use them fresh. They can also be used in cheesecakes, pies and muffins but are best eaten fresh and plain. You can add some blueberries to your morning cereal or to your yogurt for some zing. They also help in slowing down the aging process indirectly. Stress breaks down the body, aging it faster and blueberry helps fight this stress.
Almonds pack a healthy punch with B2, Vitamin E, zinc and magnesium. Almonds contain serotonin which helps to balance mood and stress. Zinc has been shown to fight negative effects of stress and vitamin E is an antioxidant which increases immunity. Almonds also help lower the blood pressure, keeping stress level under check. You can have them plain or roasted. Flavored almonds are also a big hit. Try honey roasted or cinnamon roasted almonds. Almonds can be used in anything from salads, soups, smoothies, pies, cookies, cakes, French toast to granola! However due to high amounts of fat, they should be consumed in small portions, do not go overboard.
The omega 3 fatty acids in fish help to keep the adrenaline under control and keep a tab on your stress levels. Salmon and tuna can prevent surges in stress hormones and also protect against heart diseases, mood swings and depression. Sushi is also said to be a good stress reliever as the sea-weed (maki) is known to have some anti-anxiety properties. It is also rich in magnesium, vitamin B2 and pantothenic acid that contributes to the health of the adrenalin glands. Oily fish is a great option to pan sear, bake or even steam; you can make fish cakes which is a tastier option. Try and include around 3 ounces of fatty fishes like salmon, tuna and anchovies at least twice a week.