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12 Foods That Help Reduce Stress, Including Chocolate

Stress eating is a dieter’s worst nightmare. First, you get stressed. Next, you eat to curb said stress. Then, you get stressed about all the eating. And so the vicious cycle begins.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Did you know there are actually foods you can eat to lessen your stress without wreaking havoc on your waistline? While these foods definitely verge on the healthier side, they are also quite tasty in their own right.

So the next time you feel the urge to go back to stress eating that bag of chips or that line of chocolate cookies, reach for one of these foods instead. You’ll be glad you did!

1. Salmon

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The fish’s good ol’ omega-3 fats, known primarily for promoting good heart health, also reduce anxiety and play a role in shaping your overall emotional well-being.

2. Blueberries

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Chock-full of antioxidants, these nutritious fruits can help your body improve its reaction to stressful situations. 

3. Pumpkin seeds

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Sure, they’re associated with the autumn months, but really, whenever you pop a few, they’re a good source of magnesium, which is thought to play a part in chasing away anxiety.

4. Spinach

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High in the amino acid called tryptophan, this leafy green helps lift your mood and ability to rest well. It’s also high in magnesium, which can help your muscles relax.

5. Turkey

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Also high in tryptophan, this Thanksgiving staple can actually relax the mind and body all year long — especially when it’s the breast of the turkey.

6. Pistachios

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When the stress hits, this low-cal and low-fat nut helps lower your blood pressure and heart rate. So there’s no better time to get crackin’!

7. Oatmeal

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Good ol’ oatmeal is one comfort food that will actually make you comfortable in the long run. This complex carb can reduce stress hormones and boost serotonin, which gives a feeling of calm.

8. Avocado

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The healthy fat packs tons of potassium, which is good for keeping your blood pressure low. Just remember to keep your portion size down to half a fruit; otherwise the calories will add up quickly. And make sure you read up on how to ripen avocados — no one likes an  avocado that’s unripe or too ripe!

9. Cashews

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Don’t be fooled by their small size; cashews are packed with iron, magnesium, Vitamin B6, protein, amino acids, and omega-3s. These nutrients all play a vital role in warding off anxiety in a totally natural way. But like avocados, watch the portion size (a quarter cup packs about 170 calories).

10. Yogurt

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It’s not just for calcium anymore! Studies have suggested that if you make eating probiotic-rich yogurt a regular habit it can relieve anxiety and stress by actually changing the way the brain responds to the stressful environment.

11. Green Tea

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Green tea usually makes headlines for its weight loss benefits. But did you know you can also lose some stress along with it? The amino acids in this cup of joy helps fight stress and anxiety.

12. Dark Chocolate

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Don’t worry—we saved something sweet for last. Researchers found that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced stress hormone levels in highly stressed people. Go ahead, reach for that chocolate bar!

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