Despite the few stormy days we had here at Syracuse, the weather is finally tolerable, and students have (hopefully) settled in nicely to all their classes. Unfortunately, settling into classes also means the increase in exams, projects, and stress levels. Did you know that simple foods found in the typical Asian diet can help release natural endorphins to relax the mind? Here are some ingredients you may want to add to your grocery list the next time you go shopping:
Shrimp – These little sea creatures are a great source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid, and selenium, a trace mineral that helps us relax. Just because it’s seafood, don’t think it has to be expensive. Buy a pre-frozen pack for less than 8 dollars at Wegmans and toss a few pieces into your next stir fry!
Shiitake mushrooms – Funny name, serious results. These mushrooms add a nice dose of selenium to your diet. Next time you go back home, visit your local Asian grocery market and pack up on a bag of dried shiitakes; soak in cold water for an hour, and slice some into your rice cooker after your rice is done cooking. Add a light splash of soy sauce for taste.
Milk – Unfortunately, Asians usually do not get enough dairy in our diets. The benefits of milk are endless, primarily due to the rich amounts of calcium and Vitamin D to prevent bone loss. Milk also contains tryptophan to help calm our nerves. Lactose intolerant? No worries- soy milk or any other soy-based product also contains a healthy dose of tryptophan. Not in the mood for cereal and milk? Try blending equal parts frozen fruit and milk for a quick pick-me-up smoothie.
Spinach – A great source of magnesium – a mineral that helps keep our nerves and muscles relaxed. Not so much an Asian food per se, but this vegetable is so versatile that it can fit into any cuisine. Eat it raw in a salad (after a vigorous rinse under water, mind you), or make a hearty soup with it.
Asian or not, other stress-reducing foods you may consider are:
And of course, physical activity is a great way to release stress. If you don’t have time for a full gym session, try taking 10 minute break intervals and go for a walk!
Healthy or not – what are your comfort foods?