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6 Foods Proven to Reduce Stress Levels

cashews stress reducing foods

Stress is the body's response to the environment, and, like most things, it can be both good and bad. It can help increase our focus and productivity, but it can also be detrimental to our health.

You've probably experienced the side effects of bad stress—racing heartbeat, heavy breathing, and sweaty skin—which can lead to a more serious toll on your body. The good news is that you don't have to look far to reduce this bad stress; maintaining a healthy and balanced diet can go a long way.

Pistachios

pistachios stress reduction

According to a Penn State study, pistachios can reduce vascular stress. Pistachios have a high healthy fat content, lots of fiber and plenty of antioxidants to keep blood vessels open and relaxed during stressful moments. A great afternoon snack, pistachios also work well as a yogurt topping or baked into delicious cranberry cookies.

Cashews

Cashews are full of many nutrients that may help reduce feelings of stress. They're a good source of magnesium, which plays a significant role in stabilizing energy as well as regulating the nervous system. Cashews are also abundant in vitamin B6, which helps produce serotonin, a lack of which can affect your mood. For a sweet way to get your dose of these nutrients, grab some dark chocolate covered cashews and snack away.

Seeds

pumpkin seeds stress reduction

Sure they're small, but seeds are full of health promoting and stress reducing benefits. For example, pumpkin seeds, like cashews, are rich in magnesium, which is important for a healthy nervous system. Or consider sunflower seeds; they're full of tryptophan, an amino acid that aids in the production of serotonin and melatonin, both of which influence sleep and mood. You can easily add seeds into your favorite recipe, or sprinkle some on a plate of greens to give your salad a boost of nutrition and a little crunch.

Avocados

This super popular superfood is rich in important phytochemicals such as carotenoids and phenolics. These compounds have antioxidant capabilities that reduce inflammatory and oxidative stress, which happens when there's an imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals in your body. You can eat avocado as is, spread it over some toast, or make this favorite twist on guacamole.

Leafy Greens

spinach leafy green stress reduction

We all know leafy greens are essential to good health. Spinach, kale, and collard greens, in particular, are high in vital stress-reducing nutrients and minerals such as B-vitamins, which help maintain energy, regulate mood, and improve brain function. Ready to start adding more vegetables to your diet? We recommend this tasty kale quinoa salad!

Chamomile

When you think of chamomile, you probably think of bedtime, as this herb is often noted for its ability to aid in sleep. But it can also improve your health in other ways. Chamomile is often used to reduce symptoms of various ailments such as hay fever, inflammation, and insomnia. Also, because it contains glycine, an amino acid that can relieve muscle spasms and relax nerves, chamomile is particularly helpful in reducing stress levels. Next time you're feeling overwhelmed or anxious, brew a cup of chamomile tea.

Reducing stress can be as simple as making a few small changes to your diet. These six foods can keep both your mind and body in good health, allowing you to lead a more balanced and satisfying life.

Photos: Elena M. Tarasova / Shutterstock.com, Don Pablo / Shutterstock.com, Karen Sarraga / Shutterstock.com, Marie C Fields / Shutterstock.com