Maintaining a fulfilling career while managing a household and caring for young kids can leave you feeling overextended and stressed to the max. These foods help boost your mood and energy levels during the day -- and even improve your chances of getting deep, restorative sleep.
Snacking on walnuts may help soothe your stress. In a recent study, adults who ate nine walnuts and a tablespoon of walnut oil a day experienced less of a blood-pressure spike in response to nerve-racking situations. Plus, a daily dose of any nut has been shown to cut your risk for heart disease.
Tame the muscle tension that accompanies stress with foods high in magnesium like oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, apricots and even chocolate pudding. "Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant," explains dietitian Chrissy Barth, so it also helps ease menstrual cramps and alleviate headaches.
To sleep easier, try tryptophanrich soy-based foods, like edamame or tofu, at dinnertime. Also abundant in turkey and dairy, tryptophan plays a key role in producing the sleepinducing hormones serotonin and melatonin, Barth says.
If you're among the growing number of women who waited until your 30s to have kids, you'll be happy to hear that avocados are a solid source of folate, which can also help improve fertility. And they contain a potent antiaging mix of vitamins B and E, plus "good" fat that helps keep skin supple.
A no-prep source of protein, canned tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to boost fertility and fight depression, Grotto says. "Light" tuna has a fraction of the mercury found in albacore (good news if you're trying to get pregnant -- mercury can harm your baby). Also, go for water-packed instead of oil-packed -- more of the precious omega-3s will stay in the fish instead of leaching into the liquid.
Legumes like lentils and beans deliver an energy-sustaining combo of protein, fiber and antioxidants, says dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, author of Read It Before You Eat It. Pair them with veggies like spinach and red onions to boost their antioxidant power even more -- this will help you hedge off the aging effects of pollution and the sun, Koff says.
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