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Eat This, Stress Less: Eight Stress-Fighting Superfoods

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Emotional Health related image Photo: Getty Images

We've all been there. Stressed, tried, over-worked, exhausted, and just plain over it. While exercise, meditation, and a good chat with a good pal can help, sometimes it's just not enough. Eating a diet packed with stress-busting foods is a powerful potion to keep stress and anxiety at bay. Next time you head to the grocery store, load your cart with some or all of these eight superfoods and say sayonara to stress.

Asparagus: This green veggie is high in folic acid and vitamin B a key ingredient in mood stabilization. Folic acid and B vitamins are needed to produce serotonin, a popular mood-booster.

Beef: While beef has had its fare share of controversy, when eaten in moderation it's a very useful protein. It has a high level of zinc, B vitamins, and iron—all great stress busters. Choose lean, high-quality cuts.

Blueberries: These little blue wonders are crammed with antioxidants and vitamin C—two powerful stress stompers. Their high levels of fiber can also aid in the relief of stomach cramps that can occur in times of stress.

Milk: Milk contains vitamins B2 and B12, and it also contains antioxidants that help destroy free radicals associated with stress.

Pumpkin Seeds:
 Pumpkin seeds are loaded with magnesium, a great stress-buster that is hard to get. Low levels of magnesium equals more anxiety, headaches, tension, sleep disorders, and general nervousness. Enjoy one handful of pumpkin seeds each day for 50 percent of your daily requirement.

Salmon: We all know how powerful omega-3s are in fighting heart disease, but this fabulous fat also helps us maintain healthy levels of cortisol—a critical anti-stress hormone. Salmon happens to be one of the world's best source of omega-3s. Salmon is also loaded with tryptophan, an amino-acid that aids in sleep. If you're not a fan of salmon, tuna is a great alternative.

Oatmeal: More stress equals less serotonin. Serotonin is a powerful stress-fighting hormone. Carbs are a great source of serotonin. Instead of scarfing fast-burning, sugar-filled carbs like bagels and burritos, focus on consuming more whole-grains.

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This is good advice, but I think there are some further offerings which might broaden the possibilities here and also save money.

For example, salmon...very good choice! But is salmon really special? The real issue is fatty fish that is generally healthy, rich in protein, and omega 3 fats. Salmon is not necessarily the most sustainable or healthiest choice--farmed salmon is bad for the environment and can also be lower in omega 3. There are so many healthy fish, rich in omega 3 though...including small, cheaper fish like smelt or sardines. These are also much more affordable to the typical person or family than salmon, which often runs $8-15 a pound.

There are also natural beverages that can reduce stress. You don't want to drink too much as caffeine can be bad for stress, but there is evidence that tea, including regular black tea, can be good for stress. There are also many powerful stress-reducing teas, including tulsi tea, which is used to treat stress in Ayurvedic medicine, and of course chamomile tea--which has been shown in control studies to promote relaxation.

May 9, 2011 - 1:02pm
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