Stress, your body’s response to your environment, can be one of the biggest factors on your mood. When you’re in a high-stress situation or need extra concentration, there are some snacks you can eat to help focus and de-stress.
When it comes to mood-boosting snacks, fats are your friends. Our brains are made of around 40% fat, and we need an adequate supply of it to maintain good health. Keep in mind though, these are unsaturated fats, not unhealthy trans fats. Luckily these fats can be easily found in nuts and seeds.
Walnuts contain essential omega-3 fatty acids, and other polyphenols that have been shown to help prevent memory loss. Walnuts are also one of the richest dietary sources of serotonin, a chemical in your brain that helps create calm and happiness, as well as improve your mood.
Pistachios can reduce vascular stress. They have a high healthy fat content, lots of fiber and plenty of antioxidants to keep blood vessels open and relaxed during stressful moments.
Cashews are bursting with nutrients that can help reduce feelings of stress. They’re a good source of magnesium, which plays an important role in regulating the nervous system and stabilizing energy. Cashews are an especially good source of zinc which helps since low levels of zinc have been linked to both anxiety and depression. Since our bodies have no way of storing zinc, it’s important to get some every day in your diet. Cashews are also abundant in vitamin B6, which helps produce serotonin, a lack of which can affect your mood.
Though they may be small, they are mighty. Seeds are full of healthy and stress reducing benefits. Pumpkin Seeds are packed with nutrients such as proteins, amino acids, minerals, fibers, vitamins and complex carbohydrates along with your daily recommended amount of zinc, which is vital for increasing brainpower by enhancing memory and focus. Sunflower seeds are full of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps to produce serotonin and melatonin which help influence sleep and mood. Also consider chia or hemp seeds since they’re high in protein and omega-3s which help your energy and focus.
Blueberries (yes, dried blueberries have the same nutrients and vitamins) have some of the highest levels of an antioxidant known as anthocyanin, and they’ve been linked to all kinds of positive health benefits, including sharper cognition. But all berries, including strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and blackberries, are rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to be helpful in combating stress.
Bananas contain the important amino acid tryptophan along with other important vitamins. Mood-boosting carbohydrates aid in the absorption of tryptophan in the brain, and vitamin B6 helps convert the tryptophan into the mood-lifting hormone serotonin. This helps to boost your mood and also aids good sleep.
Almonds pack a lot of nutrients, including folate and magnesium. Magnesium plays a large role in the development of serotonin, which is a major contributor to feelings of happiness in your brain. Almonds are also rich in vitamins B2 and E which help bolster the immune system during times of stress.
Chocolate has often been referred to as “the new anti-anxiety drug.” There’s a chemical reason behind it called anandamide, a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that temporarily blocks feelings of pain and depression. Dark chocolate can help you focus for a number of reasons. First, it contains a small amount of caffeine, which has been proven to heighten mental alertness. It also offers magnesium, which stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin.
Two Brazil nuts contain all the selenium you need in one day. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that has been proven to boost mood and mental performance.