Foods to help you relax

Avocados are loaded with potassium, a vital mineral for keeping blood pressure low. Photo / Babiche Martens
Avocados are loaded with potassium, a vital mineral for keeping blood pressure low. Photo / Babiche Martens

Eat your way to a more relaxed state - and no, we don't mean pigging out on high-calorie junk food while lying back on the sofa in front of the telly.

While there isn't a cure-all food to magically erase frustration, you can get some stress relief through a combination of exercising, eating small meals throughout the day and getting more of these fresh goodies.

1. Whole-wheat pretzels

Eating carbohydrate-rich foods gives you an energy boost and triggers the brain to release a feel-good chemical called serotonin.

2. Carrots

Munching on crunchy foods also helps beat stress. Nutrient-rich carrots, celery and other crunchy, fresh veggies offer satisfying crispness, but won't bog you down with too many calories.

3. Tea

Calm frazzled nerves with a steaming cup of your favourite tea blend. The soothing warmth and tea's plant compounds work together to level off your body's response to stress.

4. Nuts

Stress runs you down, which leaves you open to sickness. Almonds, pistachios and walnuts are high in the antioxidant vitamin E and zinc, both good for boosting the immune system.

5. Silverbeet

Silverbeet and other leafy veggies like spinach are full of magnesium, which can help control and limit your body's release of the stress-spiking hormone cortisol.

6. Yoghurt

Work more calcium into your diet with non-fat or low-fat yoghurt, which contains probiotics that help create a healthy and calm digestive system.

7. Dark chocolate

Research indicates that dark chocolate, that is, with 70 per cent or more cocoa, may lower levels of stress hormones.

8. Milk

Have a glass to get more B-vitamins, protein, vitamin D and bone-building calcium to relieve tense muscles.

9. Banana and Avocado

What do these fruits have in common? They're loaded with potassium, a vital mineral for keeping blood pressure low.

10. Fatty Fish

The heart-healthy omega-3 fats in fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna manage adrenaline levels to help keep you calm, cool and collected. They're also good for just about every part of your body, including the eyes, skin and hair.

- AAP

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