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relieve stress, foods proven to relieve stress

Stress can make us crave junk food and increase our levels of fat-promoting stress hormones that lead to weight gain around the tummy, hips and thighs, says Charlotte Watts, author of The De-Stress Effect. These ten foods are proven to relieve stress.

1. Celery.

When you’re under stress, sleep may suffer and you can find yourself waking with a start in the early hours – a common high stress symptom. Celery contains tryptophan which helps the body create the brain chemical serotonin, essential to sustaining a positive mood and sound sleep. A few stalks with some sugar-free peanut butter as a bedtime snack can help sleep quality and keep your blood sugar levels constant throughout the night to prevent sudden night-time waking.

2. Garlic

Long-term stress affects immunity, which is why you might catch any bug going when the pressure is on. Garlic contains potent antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties that help support an immune system lowered by stress and it can also help reduce tissue and joint inflammation which increases in the face of stress. Crush two cloves and add it to a vegetable medley of peppers, tomatoes and onions with some fresh oregano, lemon and a drizzle of olive oil and roast for 20 minutes and serve with grilled salmon or chicken breast.

3. Cabbage (and it’s cousins).

Nutrient super-rich cabbage – along with other cruciferous vegetabls such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, pak choi, horseradish and mustard leaves – contains sulphur compounds called glucosinolates that help our livers detoxify stress hormones. Eating more cruciferous vegetables can also help PMS sufferers as they can help fight a stress-related condition known as ‘oestrogen dominance’ that may be behind pre-period mood changes. Eat them cooked though – steamed or sauted in some olive or coconut oil – as raw they can interfere with thyroid function which may be compromised when you’re under stress.

4. Olive oil.

You probably know about its potential for cardiovascular protection, which is vital as stress is now a proven underlying cause of heart disease. But a newly discovered compound in olive oil known as oleocanthal has now been shown to have the same anti-inflammatory effects as ibuprofen without the side-effects. Choose extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil and drizzle it on salads and vegetables but avoid cooking with it as heating can damage the delicate fats present in olive oil (opt for cold-pressed coconut oil or rapeseed oil for cooking instead as they have ‘high melting points’ that can withstand heat).

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