Stressed out? Well, we have some comforting news: believe it or not, certain nutrients found in whole foods have the ability to both improve our brain health and lower stress to help us relax a little more every time we eat. Our brain health is vital to our overall health, and food plays a super large role in our sense of emotional well-being, so it’s about time we started viewing food as a necessary component in our self-care routines!
Powerful Nutrients for The Brain
Important nutrients that help support our mood include B vitamins, magnesium, protein, omega-3s, calcium, iron, zinc, and complex carbohydrates that are rich sources of fiber. However, instead of taking supplements made from synthetic versions of these nutrients, we’re much better off just eating the right foods.
Dr. Neal Barnard from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine specializes in the topic of brain health and food and has even written a book about it called Power Foods for the Brain, which is a wealth of science-based information on food and mood. As Dr. Barnard shares in his book, and as you’ll see down below, there are many foods that not only support mood health to lower stress levels, but that can also support heart health, longevity, and focus as a result.
So eat up, because relaxation is just a few bites away!
Bananas are an excellent (and convenient) food that will help chill you out pronto! They’re a natural source of several nutrients for your health, which includes vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium. Additionally, they contain three grams of fiber per fruit so their natural sugars will release slowly into the bloodstream. Bananas are also great for digestion and gut health, and they’re a natural source of the amino acid, tryptophan, which helps your body produce serotonin naturally.
Choose ripe, spotted bananas which normally digest easier for most people, and use them in smoothies, vegan banana bread, or add them to any dish you like. Try these banana recipes out next time you need a mood boost: Peanut Butter Strawberry Nice Cream, Dark Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread, or these 4-Ingredient Popsicles.
Sweet potatoes are a favorite food of many, and there’s a reason why! Sweet potatoes are loaded with mood-boosting benefits to help lower stress levels naturally. Studies have shown that they’re rich in depression-busting antioxidants, along with vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, and amino acids, including tryptophan, the same calming nutrient found in bananas. Sweet potatoes’ high potassium and magnesium content also help to reduce blood pressure levels that affect stress levels.
Eat sweet potatoes roasted with herbs and/or spices, mix them into soups and stews, or try them out in baked goods.Here are some recipes to give sweet potato recipes a try: Baked Sweet Potato Stuffed With Turmeric Hummus, Sweet Potato Ginger Granola Bars, and Grilled Avocado, Cauliflower, and Sweet Potato Power Bowl With Tahini Dressing.
Leafy greens are filled with many nutrients you need to manage stress which include iron, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin C, and even protein, believe it or not.
Spinach, kale, collards, chard, asparagus, and Romaine are all great greens to choose from and some of the most beneficial when it comes to overall nutrient composition. There are also studies that show the high chlorophyll content in dark greens (and green veggies) contribute to a healthier mood to reduce stress. Green never looked so good!
Eat your greens each day for optimal mood health with some of our favorite ways to enjoy them. Read 5 Nutritious Underrated Greens You Should Put in Your Salads and then try recipes like this Ginger Mushrooms and Spinach, Kale and Roasted Corn Fry, Buffalo Chickpea Caesar Salad, and Green Superfood Detox Smoothie.
Oats are packed with mood-boosting benefits to help lower your stress levels. Oats are high in vitamin B6, protein, and magnesium; they’re also a good source of calcium, iron, and potassium. Oats are also one of the top foods scientifically proven to improve heart health due to their unique ability to lower cholesterol, blood pressure levels, aid in digestion, and reduce overall inflammation in the body.