Healthy Foods That Make You Happy

woman eating a big bar of chocolate

(BlackDoctor.org) — There are many ways to manage and reduce stress levels, and your diet and nutrition choices can have a very powerful effect on whether those levels go up or down. Certain foods provide comfort and actually increase levels of hormones in the body that naturally fight stress. The right food can also help relieve stress by lowering the levels of hormones that trigger it.

For something delicious and therapeutic, relax and enjoy:

1. A warm cup of something. Sometimes, it’s the effect of a food or drink that can help reduce stress, not necessarily its nutrients. A warm cup of tea can actually calm many people, says Sandra Meyerowitz, MPH, RD, LD, online nutrition coach and owner of Nutrition Works in Louisville, Ky. There’s the soothing effect of sipping a warm drink, regardless of the flavor — but certain herbs, like lavender and chamomile, have been shown to have a relaxing effect on their own, Meyerowitz says.

2. Chocolate. Dark chocolate in the diet can reduce stress in two ways — its chemical impact and its emotional impact. Chocolate feels like such an indulgence that it can be a real treat to simply savor a piece of it, and that feeling alone can help to reduce stress, says Meyerowitz. Dark chocolate, which is also rich in antioxidants, can also help to reduce stress by lowering levels of stress hormones in the body, according to a Swiss study in which participants ate about 1.5 ounces per day for two weeks. Just avoid excess calories in your diet by not overindulging in chocolate, advises Meyerowitz