There are foods (and drinks) that can help relieve chronic stress – let's find the best ones
Chronic stress is a condition that afflicts millions of people and has negative effects on physical and mental health, even increasing the risk of developing numerous diseases, such as depression and heart problems. However, some foods have anti-stress properties and are a real cure-all if included in our diet. Let's find out together which are the best.
- The garlic
- Matcha tea
- The chickpeas
- Sweet potatoes
- Chamomile tea
- Sunflower seeds
- The fatty fish
- The eggs
Rich in sulfur compounds, to which it owes its characteristic odor, garlic helps to increase glutathione levels. This antioxidant has excellent properties in fighting stress: several tests on guinea pigs have also shown its effectiveness in reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Cruciferous vegetables in general – and first line broccoli – are an important source of magnesium, a mineral that has been shown to be useful in reducing depressive symptoms. They also contain sulforaphane, a sulfur compound with strong neuroprotective and calming properties.
A study published in Annals of General Psychiatry found that a diet rich in antioxidants is excellent against stress and depression. Among the foods that contain significant quantities of it is parsley: it has carotenoids, flavonoids, lutein and zeaxanthin.
It is the king of green teas, and has numerous beneficial properties. In particular, matcha tea is rich in L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation and has an important anti-stress action. Research also conducted on humans has shown that the greatest benefits are found in tea varieties with the highest content of L-theanine and a reduced presence of caffeine.
In addition to being rich in minerals with a strong anti-stress action, such as magnesium and selenium, chickpeas have high quantities of L-tryptophan. This substance is necessary for the production of neurotransmitters that have the function of regulating mood. Plus, as a source of plant-based protein, they are great allies for brain health.
A diet rich in whole carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, can help in reducing the levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. A clinical trial, the results of which were published in Nutrients, verified the effects of a diet mainly based on whole carbohydrates, demonstrating the link between diet and a significant decrease in cortisol.
Chamomile is one of the natural remedies par excellence in case of anxiety and sleep problems. Its beneficial properties have been demonstrated against the symptoms of depression and insomnia, while a recent study has shown how its extracts can reduce cortisol levels.
Sunflower seeds contain large quantities of vitamin E, with strong antioxidant properties. Its role in protecting mental health is known, and a reduced intake of this nutrient is associated with a decrease in mood. In addition, these seeds are rich in minerals useful against stress, particularly magnesium and selenium.
The fatty fish
Fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon and sardine are rich in vitamin D, which has an important action in decreasing the risk of developing anxiety and depression. They also contain excellent amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, essential for brain health: various researches have highlighted their role in helping the body manage stress.
In addition to being very nutritious, eggs are among the few foods to have significant amounts of choline, a substance that protects against stress. A test on guinea pigs, the results of which were published in Brain Research, showed how choline helps the body's response to stress and improves mood.