Blog The Best Foods for Coping with Stress


The Best Foods for Coping with Stress

  • by jHodgson
  • December 11, 2012

When you’re stressed, certain scents and foods can actually help calm you down. Here are 7 of the best stress fighting foods and scents according to Eating


1. Sniff an Apple: If you like the smell of green apples, embracing their aroma may help alleviate headaches, according to preliminary research. In one small study, people with chronic migraines reported some pain relief after inhaling green-apple fragrance at the start of a headache.


2. Sip on Tea: Drinking caffeinated black, green or oolong tea varieties may elicit a more alert state of mind, says a study in The Journal of Nutrition. Researchers think theanine—an amino acid present in these tea varieties—may work synergistically with caffeine to improve attention and focus. To reap the benefits, the study’s results suggest drinking five to six (8-ounce) cups of tea daily.


3. Inhale Lavender: In one 2010 study, British researchers randomly assigned 340 dental patients to one of two groups. In the first, they diffused lavender oil with a ceramic candle warmer before the start of morning and afternoon clinics. With the second group the lavender oil was replaced with water. Their findings: the group exposed to the lavender scent reported significantly lower anxiety levels. And if it works during dental appointments, who’s to say it can’t work during other stressful times?


4. Cut into a Coconut: When you’re stressed, the scent of coconut may blunt your natural “fight or flight” response, slowing your heart rate. People who breathed in coconut fragrance in a small pilot study at Columbia University saw their blood pressure recover more quickly after a challenging task. The researchers speculate that inhaling a pleasant scent enhances alertness while soothing our response to stress.


5. Pack Some Peppermint: Overwhelmed by decadent holiday spreads? A little peppermint may help you stave off the urge to overdo it. When researchers at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia evaluated hunger levels of peppermint sniffers versus nonsniffers, they found that those who wafted peppermint oil under their nose every two hours rated their hunger level lower, experienced fewer cravings and ate significantly less. “While the greatest effect from peppermint comes through inhaling the scent, peppermint gum, mints and flavored water have been found to produce similar effects,” says Bryan Raudenbush, Ph.D., lead researcher and associate professor of psychology.


6. Nibble on Chocolate: Recent research shows eating dark chocolate can help reduce levels of cortisol and catecholamines (hormones associated with stress), especially for those with high anxiety. Go easy, though: chocolate is calorically dense—eating too much can pack on the pounds and that can lead to more stress.


7. Give in to Carb Cravings: Eating carbohydrates can stimulate the release of serotonin, your feel-good brain chemical. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that adults on a high-carb, low-fat diet were happier over the long term than those on a low-carb diet. Opt for whole grains, such as quinoa and oatmeal, which deliver more fiber and nutrients than refined ones.


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