Stress is a huge part of modern day living. Healthcare professionals in particular, face considerable stress as they have to handle patients in addition to their workload. To cope, some turn to ice-cream or another cup of coffee but there are healthier options out there. Read on to find out about four superfoods that can help you to handle stress better:

1. Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale and bok choy

Benefits

These vegetables are a rich source of folate. Folate has the ability to prevent the build-up of homocysteine, which is a compound that can interfere with the production of neurotransmitters - serotonin and dopamine - responsible for regulating mood, sleep and appetite. Green leafy vegetables also contain a good amount of minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous which can help reduce the levels of stress hormones in the mood, thus stabilising your mood. 

Why is it a superfood?

Green leafy vegetables are rich in minerals. Not only are they rich in vitamins A, B and C, they are also rich in carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are needed to play a protective role in the eye. These carotenoids are known to protect against cataract as well as age-related macular degeneration. There are also studies suggesting their usefulness in reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as breast and lung cancer.

2. Blueberries

Benefits

Blueberries are one of the fruits with the highest antioxidant properties. The pigments conferring such a property to blueberries are the anthocyanins. They aid the brain in the production of dopamine, which helps to regulate your mood. In addition, blueberries are a rich source of minerals such as manganese, which can help to combat stress.

In fact, studies have also shown that eating blueberries regularly can help one deal with stress-triggered symptoms such as insomnia, depression and other mood disorders.

Why is it a superfood?

Blueberries are rich in phytonutrients, which have the ability to function both as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in the body. In fact, studies have found that blueberries consumption confers benefits both to the cardiovascular system as well as the nervous system. Not only are blueberries beneficial in the reduction of the total cholesterol, they were also slowing down the onset of cognitive problems frequently associated with aging.

3. Dark chocolate

Benefits

According to a study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, individuals who drank a chocolate drink daily (containing an amount equivalent to 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate) felt calmer than those who did not. The calming effect of chocolate comes about from anandamide, which is a neurotransmitter produced in the brain capable of blocking feelings of pain and depression. That aside, dark chocolate contains the mineral magnesium, which can help fight stress, fatigue and irritability.

Why is it a superfood?

Chocolate has been found to be able to reduce the stress hormones in the body, including cortisol, and this is likely another reason for it being a good food for stress relief. In addition, the chocolate contains compounds – known as cocoa phenols – which can lower blood pressure and improve circulation.

Two reminders however, to note before you plan your next chocolate indulgence. Firstly, you should choose dark chocolate varieties containing at least 70% cocoa in order to reap the benefits. Secondly, as chocolate is high in calories, take note to balance the extra calories by eating less of other things.

4. Avocados

Benefits

Avocados are known to contain at least 20 vitamins and minerals, among which are folate, potassium, vitamins C and E. These compounds help to regulate stress hormones.

Why is it a superfood?

Avocados are naturally nutrient-dense. Regular consumption has been found to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, thanks to the component beta-sitosterol. Not only that, avocados can help in the prevention of osteoporosis , with half an avocado providing approximately 25% of the daily recommendation for vitamin K, a nutrient essential for bone health.

The most important thing healthcare professionals have to note is that a healthy diet has to be combined with getting ample physical activity, and this is stress-relieving as well. MIMS

Read more:
5 food items to eat when stressed
“Superfoods” to aid in healthy ageing
Healthcare professionals: Start walking more to get healthier
Nurses: 6 types of diets to cater to your workday

Sources
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/04/27/10-stress-relieving-superfoods.aspx
http://www.top10homeremedies.com/superfoods/10-super-foods-to-fight-stress.html
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20909426,00.html/view-all
http://vegetarian-nutrition.info/green-leafy-vegetables/
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=8
http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20030827/dark-chocolate-is-healthy-chocolate#1
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270406.php