Six Stress-Busting, Mood-Boosting Foods

NEW YORK - How you feel can be directly related to what you eat.

Certain foods can reduce stress, relieve anxiety, and make you feel better. What should you snack on before a big presentation? What should you serve when your in-laws join you for dinner?

On "The Early Show on Saturday Morning," registered dietician Cynthia Sass, co-author of Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches," pointed to a several foods to consider when you're on edge:

You're having a stressful day at the office. What should you have as a snack?

Reach for raw veggies with hummus and a glass of ice water as an afternoon snack. Produce is loaded with water and chock full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that counter the effects of stress. In a British food and mood study, over 70 percent of the participants reported that upping their water and produce intakes improved their mood and 25 percent said that a few simple dietary changes reduced both panic attacks and anxiety.

You have to make a presentation first thing in the morning. What can you do right before that presentation?

Drink Tea. Enjoying tea leisurely doesn't just feel good; it's good for you. A Japanese study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, conducted with over 40,000 people, found that levels of psychological stress were 20 percent lower in those who drank at least five cups of green tea per day compared to those who drank less than one cup per day. The results held true even after accounting for factors such as age, sex, medical history, body mass index, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, and diet.

What about the night before?

Seaweed salad. It's incredibly rich in iodine and one of the few sources of this important mineral. Too little iodine can trigger fatigue and depression - just a quarter cup packs over 275 percent of the Daily Value. It's also a good source of magnesium, which can improve sleep.

When watching an intense sporting event, what could someone do to stay calm?

Rice crispy treats made with puffed BROWN rice or a mixture of puffed whole grains. Carbohydrates boost calming serotonin levels. Using whole grain puffs in this recipe boosts the nutritional value and won't cause the same type of spike and drop in blood sugar you might experience when you eat all refined carbs, which can lead to irritability, moodiness. Oranges: Keep yourself busy with peeling the orange. Plus it's a great source of vitamin C.

You're having your in-laws over for dinner tonight. What would be the best food to serve?

Serve a garden salad with fresh beets. One cup supplies over 30 percent of the folate needed daily. Because of its link with the nervous system, too little folate has been known to trigger mental fatigue, forgetfulness, confusion and insomnia. In addition, several common medications can deplete the body's supply of folate, including cholesterol-lowering drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, diabetes medications and birth control pills. Eat them fresh because the folate in plant foods can plummet by up to 40 percent when cooked. Fortunately fresh beets are in season year round.

Your holiday bills are starting to pile up. That could cause some to slip into depression. How can we help prevent that?

Whip up a Portobello burger (or Portobello fajitas). Mushrooms are rich in selenium, which studies have linked a deficiency of to a higher risk of depression, anxiety and fatigue. And they're the only plant source of natural vitamin D, a key nutrient three out of four Americans don't get enough of - a British study found that people suffering with seasonal affective disorder (which affects 11 million Americans) had an enhanced mood after consuming more vitamin D. New research shows that sunning mushrooms, which grow in the shade, after harvesting for just five minutes causes their vitamin D content to skyrocket to over 800 percent of the Daily Value.
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