Stressed out? Eat dark chocolate!
Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure. Dark chocolate improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. Beyond these health benefits, dark chocolate also contains several chemical compounds that have a positive effect on your mood. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier. Dark chocolate also lowers the stress hormones cortisol and catecholamines in the body, thereby reducing your anxiety! (Warning: Diabetics should be cautious about their intake of chocolates, including dark chocolate, to avoid spikes in blood sugar.)
Feeling sluggish? Have a spinach salad!
Impaired blood flow may leave you feeling sluggish or slow to process or recall information. Folate found in spinach may help lower high blood pressure and also relaxes blood vessels, thus maintaining proper blood flow, which consequently re-energizes your body. (Warning: Do not eat excessive amounts of spinach if you are on the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin) without first speaking with your doctor.
Being cranky? Eat apple slices with peanut butter!
We’re often cranky when we’re tired or hungry. Look to the apple for your healthy complex carbohydrate and the peanut butter for your healthy fat. Combining these powerhouse foods tastes delicious and gives you energy that lasts for hours!
Watch out! Temper that anger with green tea!
Green tea contains theanine, which calms you and helps you maintain clear concentration and focus. (Warning: Do not drink excessive amounts of green tea if you are on the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin) without first speaking with your doctor.)
Got the blues? Brighten up with whole-grain cereal and milk!
Need a happiness boost? While the source of your sadness could be work- or relationship-related, it also may have something to do with a deficiency of vitamin D in your diet. Vitamin D produces serotonin, which is a “feel-good” hormone that can help you feel calm, relaxed, and happy. If you’re low on vitamin D, you may be affecting your body’s ability to stabilize your mood and reduce feelings of depression. To boost your intake of vitamin D, turn to low-fat fortified milk, fortified cereals, or mushrooms.
Aunt Sally is visiting? Reduce PMS symptoms with an egg sandwich!
In the days before your period, it’s normal for women to begin craving carbohydrates. This is not without good reason: Carbs help your body boost its serotonin levels, in turn helping you improve your mood. However, avoid high-sugar/high-fat carbohydrates (like doughnuts or chips); they can leave you feeling sluggish—or worse, grumpy—after your blood sugar spikes, then drops. Opt for whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread. For extra PMS-zapping strength, pair them with tryptophan-rich protein such as eggs, sunflower seeds, or turkey, which may enhance the release of serotonin. An egg-salad sandwich on whole-grain bread offers the perfect carbohydrate-tryptophan combination.