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Most of us reach for calorie laden comfort food when we are stressed. However, there are a number of nutrients that are known to reduce stress levels. So instead of digging into dessert, which will make your blood sugar levels increase and add inches to your waistline, try foods that have the following nutrients instead. Not only are they healthy, but they will probably calm your nerves!

B Vitamins: Help combat the effects of stress by keeping the brain running smoothly and providing energy.

Good sources of B vitamins include: Dairy products (cheese and milk), eggs, green vegetables (broccoli and spinach), meat (chicken, lean beef, liver) and nuts (almonds, pistachios and walnuts).
L-Tryptophan: An amino acid that promotes relaxation by releasing serotonin, a ‘feel-good’ chemical, into the body.

Good sources of L-Tryptophan include: Bananas, dairy products (cheese and yoghurt), eggs and white meat (chicken fish and turkey), lentils, pumpkin sesame and sunflower seeds and whole grains.

Magnesium: This mineral helps relax muscles, thereby relieving tension in the body.

Good sources of magnesium include: almonds, black beans, cashew nuts, halibut, oats, pumpkin seeds, spinach and tomatoes.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Help fight anxiety and depression and keep the brain and heart functioning at optimum levels.

Good sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids include: Chia seeds, eggs, fish and walnuts.

Potassium: A mineral that is believed to reduce stress levels and calm the nerves.

Good sources of potassium include: Fish, fruit (apricots and bananas) and vegetables (avocadoes, beans, and carrots).

Vitamin C: In addition to taking care of gums and warding off colds, Vitamin C helps reduce stress levels.

Good sources of Vitamin C include: Fruit (blueberries, kiwi fruit, oranges, strawberries) and vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and sweet potatoes.)

– Dr Samia Khan
The writer is Director, Health Awareness Society.

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on September 23, 2012.