By Abu Dhabi 360
As the world observes Mental Health Awareness Month in May, it’s important to recognize the significant impact stress can have on our health and wellness. From affecting our mood and energy levels to causing weight gain, stress can manifest in various subtle and not-so-subtle ways. One crucial yet often overlooked aspect of managing stress is nutrition and its impact on our mental well-being.
According to Certified Nutritionist, Dr. Mona Mobarak, “Food can be a comforting ally in the battle against anxiety. Nourishing your body with wholesome, balanced meals can provide the fuel and nutrients your brain needs to stay balanced and help soothe and stabilize the mind in the face of life’s challenges.”
As we navigate the challenges of stress, considering the role of nutrition towards managing stress and anxiety could be an important aspect of our overall wellness journey. Abu Dhabi 360, the ground-breaking wellness program launched by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, and health-conscious individuals are turning to its wealth of resources, including healthy recipes and stress-reducing tips, to boost their well-being.
So, which foods are known to be effective in combating stress and anxiety? Let’s delve into the top five options, as recommended by Dr. Mona Mobarak, and unveil the hidden secrets behind their stress-busting powers.
Leafy Greens: Nature’s Stress-Relievers
Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, are not only nutritional powerhouses, but they also pack a punch when it comes to reducing stress. These greens are rich in magnesium, a mineral known for its ability to calm the nervous system and promote relaxation.
“From salads to stir-fries, these nutrient-rich veggies add flavour and nutrition to your meals while supporting mental well-being,” says Dry Mona Mobarak. They’re also rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, which can help to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.
Nuts and Seeds: Tiny Stress-Fighting Heroes
When it comes to managing stress, nuts and seeds are small but mighty allies. Loaded with healthy fats, protein, and antioxidants, nuts, and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds, can help regulate stress hormones and boost mood.
As a symbol of both hospitality and comfort, nuts are an essential part of Middle Eastern culture, so it’s hardly surprising that Dr. Mona Mobarak recommends incorporating nuts into your diet. “Whether you toss them into a savoury trail mix, sprinkle them on a creamy
hummus bowl, or enjoy them as a crunchy topping on a colorful salad, these wholesome treats can add a satisfying crunch and are a rich source of healthy fats, protein, and nutrients to support your mental well-being.”
Berries: A Sweet Treat for a Calm Mind
Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, are not only delicious but are also packed with stress-relieving properties. These small, sweet berries are high in antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, which has been shown to reduce stress hormones and promote a calm mind.
Blueberries, specifically, are packed with antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and protect against oxidative stress. “Inflammation and oxidative stress are two major contributors to anxiety and depression,” explains Dr. Mobarak. “So, including blueberries in your diet can help reduce the risk of these conditions.”
Dark Chocolate: A Decadent Stress-Relief Treat
For those who adore chocolate, here’s some good news! Dark chocolate is packed with flavonoids, which have been proven to lower cortisol levels – a hormone that surges during times of stress and can contribute to anxiety and depression.
According to Dr. Mona Mobarak, “Indulging in dark chocolate, in moderation and in its purest form, can be a pleasurable treat that helps ease stress.” So, for those seeking a delicious and scientifically backed way to soothe stress, a square of dark chocolate may just be the perfect pick-me-up.
Avocado: Creamy Stress-Busting Goodness
The creamy, green fruit known as the avocado has become a staple in many people’s diets. Rich in healthy fats, fibre, and vitamins, it’s no wonder that avocados have gained a reputation as a superfood. But did you know that they can also help to reduce stress and anxiety?
Dr. Mona Mobarak explains: “Avocados contain Vitamin B and potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure and reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety. Whether you enjoy them mashed on toast or sliced in a salad, avocados are a tasty way to boost your health and reduce stress. ” As with any food, it’s important to consume avocados in moderation and as part of a balanced diet for maximum benefits.
If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, consider adding some of these foods to your diet. By nourishing your body with these stress-relieving foods, it could help reduce the risk of anxiety and improve your overall well-being.
The Abu Dhabi 360 app offers a range of healthy recipes and tips to help maintain good health. John Bromley, a Public Health Consultant who is working with Abu Dhabi 360, emphasizes the importance of taking small steps towards better health. “Incorporating stress-relieving foods into your diet is just one example of a small change that can make a big difference, empowering you to take control of your health and actively support your mental and emotional resilience,” he says.
Download the Abu Dhabi 360 app for more guides and healthy recipes for reducing stress and anxiety.