5 Surprising Foods that Slash Stress Fitango January 5, 2014 2907 These surprising snacks help reduce holiday-time stress so you can actually enjoy the season. Stress majorly influences appetite. While some react to anxiety by overindulging on goodies, others lose their desire to eat all together. No matter which category you fall under, eating certain foods can boost the production of feel-good hormones, instantly making you feel calmer. Next time you feel overwhelmed look to these healthy stress-slashers to calm your nerves. Complex carbohydrates Stress causes cortisol levels to rise, increasing carbohydrate and sugar cravings, found a 2002 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. While it may be tempting to reach for a chocolate chip cookie when you’re feeling frazzled, you’d be better off eating something rich in complex carbohydrates. Complex-carbs such as yams, black beans, whole-grain breads and cereals, oatmeal, brown rice and barley may help you relax by increasing levels of serotonin (a feel-good hormone) in the brain. Dark Chocolate Chocolate lovers rejoice! Consuming a small amount of dark chocolate daily can help slash stress by lowering stress hormones, found a 2009 study published in the Journal of Proteome Research. To keep calories in check, limit your daily indulgence to 1.5 ounces, and be sure your candy bar is made from at least 70 percent cacao chocolate. (Or try this recipe: Paleo Chocolate-Filled Thumbprints) Berries Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are rich in vitamin C, which can combat stress. The vitamin lowers blood pressure and levels of cortisol, which can help combat anxiety and stress. Add berries to Greek yogurt, salads or eat them alone. Cashews Nuts about nuts? You’re in luck! Zinc-rich cashews can help combat anxiety and depression. Since our bodies have no way of storing the mood-stabilizing mineral so it’s important to get some every day. However, stick to a 1 ounce serving to keep calories in check. Nosh on them solo, add them to an Asian inspired stir-fry, or mix them into couscous with a chopped onion and curry powder to spice things up. Liquids You may be tempted to head to the liquor cabinet after a stressful day, but a cocktail isn’t the cure you’re looking for. Alcohol may ward off stress initially, but it can cause depression and anxiety later on. Both alcohol and caffeine cause dehydration which increases stress, says Laurie Nadel, PhD, psychologist and Fitango expert. Although drinking adequate amounts of water won’t make the stress of overwhelming situations disappear, it will ward off the additional stress the body undergoes when it’s dehydrated. Stick with thirst-quenchers like as water, natural fruit juices and herbal, decaffeinated teas. While there is no specific amount of liquid recommended for relieving stress, it’s a good rule of thumb to drink whenever you’re thirsty and to increase your water consumption if your urine is dark in color.