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Superfoods for Moods and Stress

Your life is filled with deadlines, over-scheduling and much multi-tasking. The demands you place on your body and mind can easily lead to a quick-fix mentality. Coffee, sugar and that menacing combination of the triple-shot, caramel macchiato are the quick fixes that provide the quick highs – and even quicker lows. That satisfied feeling rapidly plummets, resulting in a frenetic search for the next drive-thru espresso stand. It’s a vicious cycle! But relax, because a few key foods and supplements will wipe away fatigue and reduce stress without wiping you out (and your wallet).

A few simple adjustments to your diet may do wonders for your emotional well being. What and when we eat has an overwhelming influence on brain chemistry and a direct connection on how we think and act. How we respond to stress depends as much on diet as it does on learned coping skills. Combining the right superfoods throughout the day is one great start, plus: 1) Eat a diet high in complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index (legumes and unrefined grains have a balancing effect as they cause fewer blood sugar disturbances);2) Consume protein three times a day to help with depression and anxiety – proteins will help to keep blood sugar levels consistent; 3) Add proteins with high tryptophan amino acids such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds and parmesan cheese, that aid in the creation of serotonin and endorphins (mood regulating neurotransmitters); and 4) Eat foods high in B Vitamins. Eating junk food for a few days, while tense and stressed, can lead to a vitamin B deficiency – quickly compounding the problem.


Black Beans

Why: Black beans are high in fiber, complex carbs and protein. This all-in-one combination prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly, supplies protein that stops cravings for sugar and junk food and contributes to stabilizing stress. Black beans are also filled with nutrients that directly contribute to brain health, giving you the ability to cope with a high stress lifestyle.

Where to buy it: In the dried beans section of your grocery store. If you don’t have the time to prepare dried black beans, canned are an option. The darker the bean’s coat, the higher level of antioxidants.

How much to eat: One cup of black beans will provide you with 15.2 grams of protein (the average body needs around 70 grams of protein daily). Substituting black beans for higher fat foods (such as red meat) for one meal daily would be ideal.

Speedy preparation: Dried black beans cook much quicker if soaked in water over night. After soaking, rinse beans, add water (one cup beans to four cups water) bring water to a boil and add beans; they’ll be ready in 30 minutes. To help reduce the foaming while beans cook, add one tablespoon of oil. Here’s a trick to help reduce the feeling of gas that is sometimes produced from eating beans: add a couple bay leaves to the pot while cooking.



Quick Tip Recipe

Spice Up Your Mood Black Bean Salad
Mix in a bowl:

1 cup cooked black beans
½ cup diced tomatoes
1/3 cup shredded Swiss or gruyere cheese
¼ cup diced red bell peppers
¼ cup chopped green onions
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups chopped fresh spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

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