Despite the magic of the holiday season, it can also be a stressful time. Last-minute shopping, houseguests, massive meal prep—the list goes on and on. The good news is that your food choices can actually help reduce stress in your body.
There are several compounds in foods that help you decompress during high-stress times. Add foods with these five vital compounds to your dietary choices as the holidays draw near.
Phenethylamine (PEA) is a mild alkaloid stimulant that has anti-anxiety properties. This compound is produced naturally in the body and also occurs in food.
Find it in these foods: cocoa beans, beans, lentils, almonds, seeds, meat, seafood, poultry and eggs.
Antioxidants combat excessive free radicals that cause oxidative stress to the body.
Find them in these foods: vitamin C-rich foods (oranges, cantaloupe, cranberry juice, grapefruit, strawberries, papaya, kiwi, sweet red peppers), vitamin E-rich foods (almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, olive/canola/sunflower oil, wheat germ, fish oils) and beta-carotene/lycopene/lutein-rich foods (tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens and mango). Note: Spinach is an antioxidant superfood, as it's high in vitamins C, E and beta-carotene.
Flavonoids exhibit antioxidant functions in the body, which help to reduce oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Each subclass of flavonoids contains foods rich in stress-fighting antioxidants, according to the book Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism.
Find them in these foods: onions, tea, kale, olive, leaf lettuce, cranberry, tomato, apple, turnip green, endive, gingko biloba, pear, red wine, chocolate, parsley, citrus fruits, berries, cherries, plums, legumes (soybeans), nuts, milk, cheese, tofu and miso.