As if you needed an excuse, eating just a small serving of chocolate each day has been linked to improving symptoms of depression and lower body-mass-index (BMI). The cocoa can also boost your levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that helps you de-stress and feel happier.
Keep calm and munch on these anxiety-easing eats
Bananas with almond butter
The B-vitamins in bananas, like folate and vitamin B6, are key to the production of serotonin, which can help improve your mood and reduce anxiety. For an extra stress-busting boost, top bananas with almond, peanut, or cashew butter. Because nuts are rich in magnesium and zinc, they can make it easier for the body to eliminate both physical and emotional stress.
Salmon with spinach and toasted pine nuts
To keep stress levels low, aim to eat salmon or tuna at least twice a week. The omega-3's found in fatty fish have been linked to reducing the risk of depression and symptoms of anxiety. Bonus: Adding iron and magnesium-packed spinach and pine nuts improves oxygen flow to your cells and aids in muscle contraction — everything you need to feel more energized when you're in a slump.
Edamame with fresh squeezed lemon
An excellent choice when your afternoon cravings hit, this smart snack is a filling combo of fiber and protein. But thanks to the magnesium-packed soy beans and vitamin C in the lemons, it can also boost and regulate your mood. Try topping a cup with cayenne pepper and a pinch of sea salt for a tasty snack.
Avocado toast on whole grain
The combo of avocado and whole grains provides a double whammy of soothing B vitamins. Avocado is also loaded with the blood-pressure-lowering mineral, potassium, which is also beneficial for reducing the physical effects of stress.
Roasted chickpeas with mesquite or cayenne pepper
Chickpeas, like other beans, are loaded with folate, iron, and zinc — all of which help reduce anxiety. For a delicious new twist, try roasting them with an added spice. If you're craving crackers or pretzels, this is a smart swap.
Sweet potato fries
Not only are they yummy, but they're packed with stress-beating vitamin B6 and potassium. Drizzle them with olive oil (to avoid extra calories) and bake them till they're brown. And then add powdered turmeric or ginger for an anti-inflammatory boost.
Greek yogurt with raspberries and pistachios
Calcium, potassium, and magnesium are all found in dairy — making this breakfast staple a stress-free way to start your morning. Another bonus: One cup of raspberries packs a whopping 8g of fiber, which will keep you satisfied, longer.
Oatmeal with chia and walnut
Oats or buckwheat paired with chia and walnuts are a perfect stress-reducing cereal: The whole grains are loaded with B-vitamins and antioxidants and walnuts and chia are chock full of omega-3's, iron, calcium, and magnesium, too. Add milk, banana, or 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried apricots for extra flavor with a health hit.
Matcha latte L-theanine is a caffeine-like compound found in green tea that can keep you alert without all the "jitters" many associate with caffeine. Add soothing warm soy or skim milk to get even more zen.
Grilled asparagus and sautéed greens topped with a poached egg
Folate rich asparagus and greens pair well with poached or sunny-side up eggs — especially ones fortified with omega-3's and vitamin D, which have both been linked to decreasing your risk of developing depression.