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Stress is an unavoidable part of life, and everyone feels it from time to time. Along with exercise and getting enough sleep, the foods you eat may play a role in increasing or decreasing your stress level.

Some foods can help you feel calm while others may increase anxiety. Eating the right foods to reduce stress and promote relaxation is a great way to combat tension naturally.

The Best Type Of Foods For Relaxation

Several types of foods may help you relax, promote sleep and improve mood. Consider some of the best foods for relaxation.

Tuna: Tuna or any cold water fish is a good stress reducing food. Tuna contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to decrease stress producing hormones including adrenaline and cortisol.

Bananas: One of the best foods you can eat to tame your tension is bananas. Bananas contain magnesium and potassium, which are considered natural muscle relaxants and can reduce stress.

Bananas are also a good source of tryptophan. Tryptophan helps increase the release of serotonin, which is a mood booster.   

Nuts: If you are feeling stressed, instead of reaching for a candy bar, grab a handful of nuts. Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts and pistachios, contain unsaturated fat, which is thought to increase serotonin levels in the brain and promote relaxation. Additionally, nuts are high in vitamin B, which is an essential vitamin to help ward off stress. 

Honey: If you are feeling tense, consider adding a little honey to your diet.

Honey contains potassium, which can relax your nerves, especially physical tension.

Potassium may also reduce stress hormones and act as a muscle relaxant. In addition, honey is also rich in tryptophan, which has a soothing effect on the mind.   Consider adding a little honey to a cup of decaf green tea, or use it instead of butter on a whole wheat muffin. 

Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate is one treat that may have some health benefits. According to the University Of California at San Diego, dark chocolate contains antioxidants, which are thought to improve mood. Antioxidants, flavonol and polyphenol, are thought to increase serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain, which may reduce stress levels. Chocolate does contain sugar and caffeine, so be sure to limit portion size.

The Worst Foods for Relaxation

Knowing what type of foods to eat to combat stress is helpful, but knowing what foods to avoid is equally important. If you are feeling stressed out or having trouble relaxing, you may want to avoid some of the foods below.

Alcohol: Some people reach for beer or a glass of wine to unwind when they feel stressed out.

But alcohol may actually make stress worse.

Alcohol lowers blood sugar levels, which can increase anxiety. In addition, alcohol interferes with proper sleep, which also decreases your ability to deal with stress.

Cakes and Pies: Sugary foods including cakes and pies may taste good, but they won’t do anything to decrease stress. In fact, they may increase tension and your ability to unwind. Foods high in refined sugar raise your blood sugar quickly. But after the surge in energy, there is a rapid sugar crash. Energy levels, as well as mood, can fall fast. If you are prone to stress or anxiety, quickly changing blood sugar levels can make things worse. 

See Also: Can The Brain Be Trained To Prefer Healthy Foods?

Caffeine: It is probably no secret that caffeine is a stimulant. It can increase your heart rate and make you feel anxious. If you are prone to stress and anxiety, it makes sense to reduce stimulants, such as caffeine. Keep in mind, in addition to coffee and tea, chocolate and some medications contain caffeine.

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