There are only a few foods that make us happy. Whether we love their taste or remember good times, it’s no secret that food can bring comfort. However, these comfort foods are often unhealthy snacks and sweets that will defeat your weight loss goals. They give us a brief burst of joy that goes away shortly after dinner. When you’re feeling stressed out, you need foods with powerful nutrients that will lift your mood and energize your day.
Our wellness and nutrition experts at The Leaf have reviewed the research and compiled this list of nine foods that have been shown to lift mood and reduce stress, so you are ready to deal with whatever comes your way. We have also included fresh and healthy food preparation ideas so you can enjoy these stress relieving foods with family and friends! Another reason to be happy? Any of these stress reliever foods can also help you keep track of your weight loss and wellness goals!
If you’re feeling stressed out, add these nine happy foods to your shopping list ASAP:
Why: Egg yolk is one of the few food sources for vitamin D, says Healthline. According to nutritional research published in Nutrients, studies show that vitamin D deficiency correlates with an eight to 14 percent increase in depression. Eggs contain more than just a healthy supply of vitamin D. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that one large egg provides about six grams of protein that will fuel you for a productive day.
Try: Thin Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich is rich and creamy, yet low in calories. It’s easy to prepare in minutes so you can enjoy a satisfying flex lunch that won’t weigh you down.
Why: Salmon, albacore tuna, and other fatty fish are high in two types of omega-3 fatty acids – docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These nutrients can “travel across the brain cell membrane and interact with mood-related molecules in the brain,” says Harvard Health Publishing. “They also have anti-inflammatory effects that can help relieve depression.”
To attempt: Tuna patties in 3 steps are an amazing healthy recipe and meal preparation option that is loaded with protein. These tuna patties are the perfect hearty starter or sandwich filling for your weight loss menu.
Try this out Diet and nutrition Section on The Leaf to learn more about it Five Seafood Staples You Should Eat On Your Weight Loss Journey! >
Why: Nutrients often work together in our body. Calcium, for example, helps us process vitamin D. That could explain why women who eat high-calcium diets are less likely to be depressed than those who don’t, according to a study published in Nutrition Research and Practices. Calcium is also important for regulating the metabolism, which affects our energy balance throughout the day. Simple non-fat Greek yogurt – a PowerFuel that’s high in protein and low in calories – gives you 250 milligrams of calcium in an 8 ounce serving, says the USDA.
Try: Chunky Monkey Yogurt Parfait combines high-fiber banana slices, peanut butter, nuts and low-sugar cocoa nibs into a dessert that will satisfy your cravings without hindering your weight loss progress.
Why: People who eat magnesium-rich foods may have a lower risk of depression compared to people who don’t eat enough of this essential mineral, conclude the authors of a study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. They theorize that magnesium helps regulate certain systems in the brain that control the stress response. So when you’re feeling stressed out, enjoy a cup of cooked black beans with your healthy meal. According to the USDA, this contains 120 milligrams of magnesium, about 30 percent of your daily requirement (depending on the age group). All types of beans are also great for a high-fiber diet, leaving you feeling full for hours after consuming them.
To attempt: You get plenty of magnesium and a sweet treat when you make a batch of ours Brownies with black beans in four easy steps. Don’t mention the beans and these rich, chocolatey bites are sure to bring a smile to almost every face in your household.
Why: Beets are a natural source of betaine, a micronutrient that helps your brain produce serotonin, according to a report published in the Journal of Multicultural Healthcare. According to Healthline, beets also provide you with folic acid or folate. “In addition to anemia and other health problems, folate deficiency can lead to major depressive disorder (MDD),” says Psychology Today. For these reasons alone make these root vegetables a perfect stress relieving food option!
Try: Roasted Rosemary Beets and Carrots Marry the earthy, sweet flavors (and appetizing colors) of two high-fiber root vegetables in a filling side dish.
Why: All types of mushrooms are high in tryptophan, says Mycoscience. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that your body needs to ensure an adequate supply of serotonin. “Low levels of serotonin in the brain are linked to poor memory and depressed mood,” says an article published in the journal Nutrients. Mushrooms are also a high fiber food and are low in calories. Plus, they’re not a starchy vegetable, so you can eat as much of them as you want while you pursue your weight loss goal.
To attempt: Check out our short video on how to make it Simple stuffed mushrooms, a snack that can turn any stressful day into a party.
Why: The tender green spears are another great plant-based source of tryptophan, says Health.com. According to Healthline, asparagus also provides you with plenty of folic acid. “Many studies dating back to the 1960s show an increased incidence of folate deficiency in patients with depression,” states the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience.
Try: Caesar Salad with grilled asparagus offers the zesty flavors of parmesan, Dijon mustard and garlic on the smoky grilled spears, adding a savory new environment to these familiar flavors.
Why: Flavonoids are phytonutrients (meaning they are only found in plants) that give blueberries their deep color. People who drank blueberry juice in one study reported more positive changes in their mood than those who drank a placebo, according to Nutrients magazine. The researchers suggest that “the consumption of flavonoids improves cerebral blood flow, increases executive function, and thus helps to inhibit cognitive characteristics (e.g. rumination) that perpetuate depression”.
Try: Blueberry Green Tea Smoothie makes a filling breakfast or snack full of valuable nutrients and naturally sweet taste.
9. Dark chocolate
Why: Science has confirmed what you probably already know: chocolate improves mood. “Cocoa polyphenols (micronutrients) improve positive mood states,” researchers say in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. Researchers believe that the polyphenols stimulate activity in the areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, and increase serotonin. Of course, dark chocolate often contains fat and sugar, so you need to limit your consumption under stress so as not to derail your weight loss.
To attempt: The Dark chocolate sea salt nut square von Nutrisystem hits all the high marks for a snack – salty, sweet and crispy – while keeping the calorie and fat content to a minimum. Our healthy snacks can help you prepare and plan your meals and eliminate another source of stress. It also contains eight grams of fiber and six grams of protein, so it relieves hunger pangs and fills you with rich, dark chocolate.
These seven healthy chocolate snack hacks helps you stay focused and on track with your weight loss goals when you crave this sweet treat!
* Always speak to your doctor if you feel excessively stressed, sad, or anxious.