Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beat Stress

Emotional Eating Isn't Always Bad | Women's Health Magazine
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Forget everything you've heard about stress-eating being a bad thing. If you put the right foods in your pie hole (i.e., not pie), noshing when your nerves are jangling can actually calm you down. And that's great news, because the last thing you need is more stress, which over time can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity -- and the odds that you'll go ballistic on Mom when she asks, for the third time, what your unemployed fiancĂ© does for a living. The following listed below are the best foods to soothe stress and can counteract the damage that chronic pressure does to your bod. Stock up on the lot of them so that when the tension rises you can beat stress instead of freaking out.

Almonds, Pistachios & Walnuts

When all hell breaks loose, reach for a handful of almonds. They're bursting with vitamin E, an antioxidant that bolsters the immune system. Almonds also contain B vitamins, which may help your body hold up during seriously unpleasant events (like getting a year's membership to Match.com as a present). About a quarter cup every day is all you need. Another easy way to get a fix is to switch from traditional PB to almond butter on high-tension days. (We like All Natural Barney Butter Almond Butter, $7, barneybutter.com.)
Sick of almonds? Shell pistachios or crack walnuts. Both will help keep your heart from racing when things heat up. "We experience immediate cardiovascular responses to stress because of the 'fight or flight' response," says Sheila G. West, M.D., associate professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State. When stress strikes, the hormone adrenaline raises blood pressure to boost energy -- so you're prepared to run like hell if you need to. But because we seldom need to fight or flee (dodging your annoying aunt doesn't count), it's better to blunt the strain on your heart. A 2007 Penn State study led by Dr. West found that eating one and a half ounces (about a handful) of pistachios a day lowers blood pressure so your heart doesn't have to work overtime. Walnuts have also been found to lower blood pressure, both at rest and under stress, West says. Add about an ounce to salads, cereal, or oatmeal.


The next time stress has you hankering for a high-fat, creamy treat, skip the ice cream and try some homemade guacamole -- the thick, rich texture can satisfy your craving and reduce those frantic feelings. Plus, the green wonders' double whammy of monounsaturated fat and potassium can lower blood pressure. (For a healthy recipe favorites in under 20 minutes, check out the WH Recipes homepage.) One of the best ways to reduce high blood pressure, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, is to get enough potassium -- and just half an avocado offers 487 milligrams, more than you'll get from a medium-size banana. To whip up your own avocado salad dressing, puree a medium avocado with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a dash of cayenne.

Skim Milk

Science backs up the old warm-milk remedy for insomnia and restlessness. Turns out calcium can reduce muscle spasms and soothe tension, says Mary Dallman, Ph.D., professor of physiology at the University of California, San Francisco. A glass of moo juice (preferably skim or 1 percent) may also reduce stressful PMS symptoms such as mood swings, anxiety, and irritability. According to a 2005 study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, women who drank four or more servings of low-fat or skim milk per day had a 46 percent lower risk of pre-period misery than women who had no more than one serving per week.

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