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8 Nigerian Foods That Help You Help Fight Stress

We all go through stressful events - and they don't even have to be big, just the daily hassles of life—and it causes our cortisol levels to rise. Cortisol increases our desire for food, especially sweet foods, according to researchers at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center.  However, the more we eat them, the worse our mood gets.

As if that weren't bad enough, the cortisol then triggers an enzyme in our fat cells which converts another hormone, cortisone to more cortisol. Since our visceral fat cells (the ones in our abdomen, packed around our vital organs) have more of these enzymes than the subcutaneous fat cells (the fat on our thighs and butts, for example), stress causes us to accumulate more belly fat.

The more stress we undergo, the more this abdominal, or central, obesity occurs. Some research has found that these belly fat cells, which have been linked to a greater risk for heart disease and diabetes, have four times as many cortisol receptors as regular fat cells.

Stress has also been pinpointed as one of the possible causes of hypertension. If you have to deal with stressful events occasionally have are not handling properly, it could possibly lead to you developing high blood pressures.

The good news is that there are foods found in Nigeria that that can soothe and calm you, and melt that stress away. Whether it's because of the specific nutrients they provide or the steady, reliable source of energy they give you, they'll get you through the day feeling focused, even, and balanced—so you'll have the ability to conquer anything.

1. Avocados

These creamy fruits increase your body resistance to stress. Rich in glutathione, a substance that specifically blocks intestinal absorption of certain fats that cause oxidative damage, avocados also contain lutein, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and more folate than any other fruit. A quarter of an avocado has plenty of B vitamins, too. It is important to note, while this may technically be a fruit, it does contain fat as well, so use portion control when eating.

2. Cashew nuts

Cashew nuts make great snacks, and because they are crunchy and a little salty, they cure many cravings. For those trying to lose weight, they're such a potently satisfying combo of protein and fat. Cashews are an especially good source of zinc. 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. Again you have to watch portion size as they are high in calories.

3. Chamomile tea

This is probably one of the most recommended bedtime soothers around. There is a lot of evidence that chamomile calms. A study from the University of Pennsylvania tested chamomile supplements on 57 participants with generalized anxiety disorder for 8 weeks, and found it led to a significant drop in anxiety symptoms.


4. Chocolate

Besides the healthy antioxidants in this treat, which push chocolate to the top of most heart-healthy food lists, it has an undeniable link to mood. There's evidence that, in moderation, chocolate does actually make you feel better. Dark chocolate, in particular, is known to lower blood pressure, adding to a feeling of calm. It also contains polyphenols and flavonols—two important types of antioxidants.

5. Garlic

Garlic is packed with powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals (particles that damage our cells, cause diseases, and encourage aging) and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage the free radicals cause over time. Among these compounds found in garlic is allicin, which has been linked to preventing heart disease, cancer, and even the common cold. Because stress weakens our immune system, food items like garlic can help toughen it back up.

6. Green Tea

While it does contain caffeine, green tea also has an amino acid called theanine. Researchers at the University of Illinois, in the United States say that in addition to protecting against some types of cancer, this slimming food is a brain booster as well, enhancing mental performance. It is recommended that you drink two cups each day to enjoy its full benefits.

7. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate which causes your brain to produce serotonin, a feel-good chemical. Not only does serotonin have antioxidant properties, it also has a soothing effect that helps overcome stress. Studies have shown that children who eat oatmeal for breakfast stay sharper throughout the morning. In addition, oatmeal contains beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber, which has been shown to promote greater feeling of being full than other grains.

8. Oranges

This fruit hardly seems to go out of season in Nigeria and is available all year round.  Oranges are packed full of vitamin which studies have shown can help relieve stress. Their tough skin keeps them fresh for longer than some of the fruits that we commonly get from the market and makes them an ideal candidate to carry around as a handy snack.

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