How is your run up to Christmas? Most of us think more about food at Christmas than at any other time! I don’t want to waste your time with those healthy eating at Christmas tips, but thought I’d talk about the benefits of superfoods and why these are a great addition to our nutrition, especially at this taxing time of year..
Most people have an energy dip in the afternoon. The gap of time between lunch and dinner is usually far longer than between breakfast and lunch, and consequently, around mid-late afternoon is the time when we are most likely to succumb to our cravings for sugary snacks to hasten a recovery from this slump. Unfortunately, the foods we usually choose in these situations are not nutritionally dense and typically do more harm than good when it comes to maintaining our energy or health goals.
By planning and preparing to have healthy snacks on hand, you can be sure to give your body and brain exactly what it needs in order to make it through the afternoon – in a way that will keep you alert, satisfy your sweet tooth, and discourage over-eating later during your evening meal.
There are many foods that can combat stress and anxiety, and help stabilize blood sugar and emotions. Some foods are considered to be super foods, because they are particularly dense invitamins or minerals that have positive benefits for our bodies. Eating superfoods alone is not a recipe for perfect health, but they are substantially more nutrient dense than some other foods
So let’s look at the ABC’s of superfoods!
Rich in folic acid, a nutrient that boosts your mood, asparagus is easy to add to any meal or eat as a snack. Whether sautéed and added to an omelet or grilled as a side dish. Try microwaving few stalks for a snack with a slice of smoked salmon.
Packed full of stress-relieving B vitamins that are good for healthy brain and nerve cells, they help to decrease anxiety. They are also high in good fats and potassium which helps to lower blood pressure..
Whether you add them to some yoghurt, put them in your smoothie or just eat them frozen as a snack, this tiny, sweet fruit contains antioxidants and phytonutrients, as well as vitamin C that improve the body’s response to stress as well as produces a type of white blood cell that increases your immunity. A handful of blueberries and 15 almonds makes a great snack.
An ounce of this yummy, buttery nut gives you about 11% of the daily-recommended value of zinc, a mineral that helps to reduce anxiety. Along with the omega-3 and protein cashews contain, zinc affects the levels of a nerve chemical that influences mood.
Besides giving you that sense of euphoria when you eat it, dark chocolate also has antioxidants from cocoa that trigger the walls of blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation. It’s best to choose chocolate that has greater than 70% cocoa.
Green Leafy Vegetables:
Veggies such as spinach and broccoli have magnesium, the mineral that regulates cortisol as well as folate which produces dopamine, the pleasure-inducing brain chemical helping to keep you calm.
Complex carbohydrates can help the body make serotonin, and can help keep your blood sugar from rising due to stress.
The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon have anti-inflammatory properties that help to counteract the negative effects of the hormones, adrenaline and cortisol which are affected when we are stressed.
Flaxseed, pumpkin seeds,sunflower seeds and chia seeds are all great sources of magnesium which regulates emotions. Magnesium has been shown to alleviate depression, fatigue and irritability. As well it can help with PMS symptoms, cramps and water retention.
You’ve seen it at the Christmas dinner table…. let the yawning begin! That’s because turkey has L-tryptophan, an amino acid that produces serotonin, the chemical that regulates hunger, feelings of happiness and well-being, as well as having a calming effect.
Full of protein, calcium and probiotics, yogurt can help to reduce the signals the brain sends to the gut which affect gastrointestinal symptoms.
Here is a great snack idea using lots of superfoods:
Flaxseed & Yogurt:
- 150g plain greek yogurt
- 7 Chopped Walnut halves
- 2 tbsp ground Flaxseed
- BlueberriesMix together the Greek yogurt and walnut halves and ground flaxseed, top with blueberries.
Whatever you are up to this Christmas, make sure you fuel up properly with healthy snacks.
I wish you all a very Happy Christmas !
Rachel Law is a personal fitness trainer based in New Malden, Surrey. Qualifications: ActivIQ Level 3 Personal Training; Burrell Education Pregnancy Exercise Prescription; Burrell Education Advanced Pregnancy Wellness Practitioner; Burrell Education Advanced Post Natal Exercise Prescription; Burrell Education 3rd Age Women Optimal Health and Nutrition; Burrell Education Peri Natal Athlete; Burrell Education Pelvic Flow and Freedom; Olympic Weight Lifting; Premier Global Kettlebells; FIE Level Assessment and Mentoring