Rethink Your Comfort Foods

Can’t resist your comfort foods? You don’t have to!

You might be surprised to learn that there are many heart healthy foods that can give you the same feeling of comfort that your favorite comfort foods provide. Psssst… they’re also nutritional powerhouses!

Here are just a few foods that are filling, savory, and just plain make you feel good:

  • Berries – Berries are bursting with some of the highest levels of an antioxidant known as anthocyanin, which has been linked to all kinds of positive health outcomes, including sharper cognitive skills. And did you know? All berries, including yummy strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to be helpful in combating stress.
  • Asparagus – These slender, funny-looking stalks are high in folate, which is essential for keeping your cool when stress levels are high. Folate, one of the B vitamins, is particularly great at stabilizing your mood and reducing depression, anxiety, and panic.
  • Avocados – These creamy and delicious fruits stress-proof your body. A single serving (about one-quarter of an avocado) contains more folate than any other fruit. Avocados are also rich in blood pressure reducing potassium and so much more.
  • Cashews – Do you go nuts for these creamy and delectable snacks? Their lightly salted crunch cures many cravings. Cashews are an especially good source of zinc—a 1-ounce serving has 11 percent of your RDA recommended daily dose. Low levels of zinc have been linked to both anxiety and depression. Since our bodies have no way of storing zinc, it’s important to get some every day – so crunch away (watch your portion size though, cashews are high in calories).
  • Chamomile Tea – If you’ve been feeling anxious, stressed, or depressed, you may find soothing relief in a cup of chamomile tea. This tea works as an antidepressant and helps calm nerves and soothes anxiety.  A cup of this stuff is great to help you unwind at the end of a busy day.
  • Chocolate – This treat has an undeniable link to mood. Dark chocolate, in particular, is known to lower blood pressure, adding to a feeling of calm. It contains more polyphenols and flavonols—two important types of antioxidants—than some fruit juices.
  • Oatmeal – Oatmeal causes your brain to produce serotonin, a feel-good chemical. Not only does serotonin have antioxidant properties, it also creates a soothing feeling that helps overcome stress.
  • Oranges – Another vitamin C powerhouse! Thanks to their tough skin, oranges have the added benefit of being completely portable—meaning your family can take them anywhere.
  • Bananas – Next time you feel stressed, reach for a banana. With only 105 calories and 14g of sugar, a medium banana provides a mild blood sugar boost, and has 30% of your daily dose of vitamin B6, which helps the brain produce mellowing serotonin, getting you through a crisis peacefully.
Do you still crave your favs?  

The comfort foods we crave like mashed potatoes, bread, pizza are usually loaded with fat and calories—but you do’t have to resist their yummy goodness.

Here are FIVE heart healthy ideas to help enjoy your favorite comfort foods:

  1. Add grated or chopped vegetables like zucchini, spinach, or carrots to your favorite lasagna, meat loaf, or mashed-potato recipe.
  2. When the urge for ice cream hits, top a low-fat version with granola or try sherbet topped with fruit.
  3. If cookies are your comfort food, reach for oatmeal-raisin, vanilla wafers, or ginger snaps.
  4. When salt is what you crave, try popping some popcorn, pretzels dipped in mustard, or baked tortilla chips and salsa.
  5. Watch your portion size; don’t overindulge in just one food.
Give some of these ideas a try today and stress less!

 

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