Good morning on this beautiful spring Monday in Vancouver! I had an amazing weekend of events with good friends including an awesome adventure on Bowen Island hiking for 2 1/2 hours yesterday that included a killer hill. Today I’m sore, but it was so worth it, I definitely challenged myself.
Today’s blog is part 3 of my foods and moods series based around reducing the physical and mental effects of stress with superfoods. I do feel there may be more to this topic than I originally thought I’d be blogging about but I think 3 big blogs is a great starting point. If by chance you missed the first 2 parts to this series, they can be found here (pt 1) and here (pt 2). Please note I am not stating in any way to eat these foods and not go to your doctor if you’re experiencing physical or mental symptoms that could be signs of something serious!
So let’s get started with part 3:
18. Beets – are an abundant source of dozens of vitamins and minerals, including being one of the richest sources of energy boosting iron. They’re also high in betaine and typtophan for easing depression and lifting mood. Beets are rich in: Folate to build tissue and red blood cells to increase energy. Betalains which are plant chemicals that have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Nitrates which have been shown to lower stress related high blood pressure within an hour. Boron, shown to help improve virility in both men and women.
19. Avocado – one of my faves, they contain more than 25 key nutrients, including the B vitamins and postassium to encourage the health of the nervous system. The healthy fats avocado contain can help to promote heart health while regulating blood pressure. They are also high in vitamin E to boost immunity and improve skin health. Avocados are rich in: Beta-sitosterol to lower unhealthy cholesterol. Potassium to control blood pressure. Fiber and monounsaturated fats for balancing blood sugar levels, and preventing insulin resistance – a common side effect of stress. Folic acid, pantothenic acid, and vitamin K to reduce stress levels and improve the health of the nervous system.
20. Eggs – are quite often the underdog of the food world. They are far more complex and healthy than they get credit for. Eggs contain key nutrients and are high in protein to balance blood sugar and provide sustainable energy. Rich in B vitamins that support the nervous system they are an essential part of an anti-stress diet. They are rich in: Tryptophan to regulate mood and encourage sleep. Tyrosine to support mental activity and concentration. Protein to stimulate overall health and help stabilize blood sugar and energy levels. Pantothenic acid, the anti-stress vitamin that supports the adrenal glands.
21. Cinnamon – has long been used for medicinal purposes and studies have found that it not only lowers blood sugar levels, but also boosts energy and eases the impact of stress. Its smell has been shown to improve brain function and memory. Cinnamon is rich in: MCHP, a chemical that reduces blood sugar levels and some forms of anxiety. Anti-inflammatory chemicals to assist in heart health, protect arteries from stress related damage, and reduce muscle and joint pain. Calcium to calm anxiety and restore nervous system function. Essential oils that boost immunity and stimulate healthy digestion.
22. Cranberries – are one of the richest sources of vitamin C and other antioxidant nutrients which play an important role in reducing the damaging effects of stress. They’re full of fiber too, helping to regulate digestion and blood sugar levels. They are rich in: Phytonutrients which reduce inflammation, ease muscle and joint pain, and improve oral health, digestion and heart health. Proanthocyanidans proven to boost immunity. Resveratrol, picetanno, and pterostilbene which can help to prevent heart and circulatory damage caused by stress. Chemicals that can help to prevent ulcers.
23. Yogurt with live active cultures – the live active cultures being a very important part of the yogurt you eat. Yogurt contains probiotics (healthy bacteria) and can often be tolerated by people who are intolerant to lactose. It is a great source of calcium and the B vitamins. By encouraging the health of the digestive tract, yogurt can improve digestion, immunity, and emotional health by elevating communication between the gut and the brain. Its rich in: Friendly bacteria to strengthen the health of the digestive tract, help it absorb nutrients more efficiently, and enhance immune function. Probiotics which have been shown to positively impact the brain chemistry involved in stress, anxiety and depression. Calcium to act on the nervous system and foster restful sleep. The B vitamins for a healthy nervous system and improved relaxation.
24. Popcorn – it’s the salt and butter, other seasonings and toppings we add that create the problems associated with extra fat and calories. It includes more antioxidants than fruits and vegetables and as a whole grain it is an excellent source of B vitamins, fiber, slow release carbs and good quality protein. All that being said, if you’re not buying organic popcorn then you’re buying GMO corn which I do not recommend. Also the majority of people actually have trouble digesting corn (less so with popped corn), which can be quite noticeable when you use the bathroom after eating it. Popcorn is rich in: Polyphenols that can protect the body from disease and stress related damage. Ferulic acid which protects against cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and diseases of the nervous system. Fiber aiding in healthy digestion and enhanced absorption of nutrients from food. B vitamins to improve nerve function and help produce energy.
25. Almonds – comprises more nutrients than any other nut and are an excellent source of vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron, all of which play an important role in coping with the stress of day-to-day life, and nurture a sense of calm. The healthy fats they contain help to prevent heart disease and decrease inflammation in the body. They are rich in: Vitamin E that has been shown to prevent damage caused by stress while boosting immunity. The B vitamins and magnesium for serotonin production, regulating mood and relieving the symptoms of stress. Zinc to fight the negative effects of stress. Calcium to promote restful sleep and encourage relaxation.
Last but not least,
26. Bananas – are effective little packages of energy with a host of key nutrients to help your body work at optimum levels. Most important they provide plenty of potassium which is required for a healthy nervous system and balanced moods. Bananas are rich in: Potassium to improve heart health and the nervous system, and lower blood pressure. Tryptophan to help the body produce serotonin which calms the brain. B6 to stimulate the production of oxygen rich red blood cells and disease fighting antibodies. Fiber to improve digestion and balance blood sugar.
Whew! Another long but important batch of superfood information. The connection of food to physical, mental and emotional health is becoming more and more well known, but there is always more to learn. I hope this 3 part series has given you a ton of great info to help you shop for quality, whole, fresh foods as a primary source of nutrition not just for your physical well-being, but also for your mental and emotional well-being. Add regular doses of sunshine and being out in nature to your plan and you’ll be feeling healthier, more positive and less stressed in no time. Speaking of sunshine and nature, it’s 18*C here and gloriously sunny, I’m heading out into it now. 🙂