If the stress of the holidays is getting the best of you, it may be time to prioritize self-care — and a great way to do that is to eat right. Whether you’re feeling achey, extra tired, or down right depressed, we’ve got some food solutions that will have you feeling better in no time.
Beat stress with potatoes.
To sail through the holidays feeling calm, steady and energized, stock up on spuds! Researchers at Indiana’s Purdue University say munching on a medium-sized potato daily (with the skin) is the secret to staying 42 percent calmer and happier all winter long. The reason? Potato skins are one of the richest natural sources of potassium, a mineral that soothes the anxiety center of the brain.
End aches with red cabbage.
Red cabbage contains 36 anti-inflammatory, painkilling compounds. No wonder University of Connecticut scientists say adding one cup of this colorful cruciferous veggie to your daily diet can help you feel more limber and less achy in 72 hours — plus, it will cut your risk of future pain flares by 45 percent.
Get happy with pumpkin.
Pumpkin adds a creaminess to smoothies, oatmeal and pasta dishes — and it will up your joy by as much as 45 percent if you eat two cups weekly. That’s the word from UCLA scientists, who say pumpkin compounds (carotenoids) boost your brain’s ability to produce the mood-elevating hormones dopamine and serotonin.
For a savory side dish, drizzle olive oil over cubed pumpkin; sprinkle with salt and garlic powder. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes. Craving sweet? Mix 1/4 cup of canned pumpkin and 1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt; top with cinnamon and nuts.
Enhance your focus with radishes.
When you can’t seem to stay on task, nibbling on two crisp radishes could sharpen your focus and concentration by 40 percent for 60 minutes. Stanford University researchers say this veggie’s pungent, peppery bite stimulates the formation of energizing, focus-enhancing beta brain waves.
Slim your belly with turnips.
You can sidestep seasonal weight gain — plus shed up to four pounds of trapped abdominal fluids this month—just by enjoying 1 cup of turnips three times weekly, Yale University researchers say. Thanks goes to turnip compounds (indoles) that activate fat-burning genes inside muscle cells, plus prompt your kidneys to flush out excess fluids. Hint: Smaller turnips have a sweeter, milder taste.
Boost energy with cauliflower.
Feeling weary? Restore your vim and vigor for three hours by savoring a heaping cup of cauliflower. British scientists say cauliflower contains a rare group of nutrients (glucosinolates) that increase the production of an energizing brain chemical called acetylcholine.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.