January is the perfect time to start organizing your life and taking control over your stress level. Although exercise and a healthy lifestyle play a big part in this, you will have to go even further than that – change your dietary habits to fight stress. 

When you’re stressed, your cortisol levels rise and that causes food cravings. Mostly, those foods are carbs, especially sweets. According to researchers, instead of making you feel better, these foods worsen your moods. Additionally, these foods cause weight gain. So it seems instead of making you better, so-called “comfort foods” are making you feel more stressed. However, there are superfoods which really work positively on your mood and 2018 is the perfect time to try them out and start fresh.  Here are 11 to consider adding to your food choices:

1. Seeds
Magnesium is a mineral proven to have positive effects on tiredness and depression. Flaxseed, pumpkin seed and sunflower seed are great sources of this mineral. An important plus side is that magnesium is also beneficial during PMS against symptoms like water retention and cramps.

2. Turkey breast
If you like meat, then replace fatty and red meats with organic turkey breast. It’s full of tryptophan which converts into serotonin, one of the important fighters against depression. Of course, eat it moderately since diverse diet is important for your overall health.

3. Avocado
Avocado is the regular food on all lists dedicated to healthy dietary habits. It is rich in vitamins E and B, folate, potassium and other 20 essential nutrients. It’s a great food to satiate you and prevent you from snacking. Avocado helps control blood sugar and insulin levels and thus is recommended for diabetics.

4. Cashews
Cashews are full of zinc, an important mineral for stress reduction. Zinc was proven through studies to reduce irritability, improves focus and influences mood in a positive way. Cashews also contain protein and omega-3 fatty acids which are good for brain function.

5. Dark Chocolate
Unlike the usual chocolate which is full of sugar, the dark one  contains 70% and more of cocoa. It elevates your mood thanks to the neurotransmitter anandamide which temporarily stops pain and melancholy.

6. Salmon
Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids which improve brain function and take care of your cardiovascular health. As one of the important factors for brain activities, it’s usually taken as a supplement during treatments for anxiety and depression.

7. Blueberries
Blueberries get their colour from antioxidants anthocyanin. It participates in the generation of dopamine, an important neurotransmitter for the control of emotional response and pleasure. Blueberries are a great food to fight exhaustion, so they are an excellent addition to the vegan protein powder meals after exercise.

8. Spinach
Spinach is the kind of food that will help in elevating your mood. It’s full of folate which helps in the production of neurotransmitters responsible for mood modulation. Among those neurotransmitters are dopamine and serotonin. 9. Oatmeal Carbs may be bad for the weight but they are good against depression. They help in the production of serotonin and so should be a part of your diet. However, this doesn’t mean that you can eat processed foods and refined sugar. There are complex carbs that don’t lead to high glucose levels, one of the causes of anxiety.

10. Almonds
As a frequent addition to your oatmeal breakfast, almonds are also going to boost your brain function. They are rich in magnesium, zinc, vitamins B, C and E and unsaturated fats. However, don’t eat raw almonds since they produce hydrogen cyanide when metabolized and can cause serious health issues.

11. Asparagus
Asparagus can be a tasty addition to any meal and offers more ammunition for your anti-stress fight. It contains folic acid and vitamin B which help the production of serotonin.

The very decision to start fresh in 2018 and regulate your stress through food will boost your enthusiasm. Even if some foods don’t seem attractive or tasty, try them out in new and healthy recipes. As science proved, they will certainly elevate your mood and help you feel relaxed, so they deserve a chance.

Helen Bradford is an interior design and fashion enthusiast who constantly seeks new ideas to write about.  She spends her spare time doing fitness and traveling.