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Eating healthy foods can be a stress buster

You know the feeling: tense muscles, a knot in your stomach, maybe a headache. No matter how hard you try, being calm isn't in the cards.

Stress and tension can wreak havoc on eating patterns. The right (healthy) foods can help tame mindless munching and cravings, and actually lower overall anxiety and its symptoms.

Here are a few favorites from Woman's Day magazine:

DARK CHOCOLATEHigh in flavonoids, which are lauded for their relaxing properties (chamomile tea is another great source), chocolate also contains phenethylamine, a chemical that enhances mood. The darker the chocolate, the more healthful substances you're getting, so look for bars 70 percent cacao or higher.

SKIM MILK Turns out that glass of warm milk is calming. One study found women who drank four or more servings of low-fat or skim milk every day were about half as likely to experience stress-related PMS symptoms than those who drank less than one serving a week.

OATMEAL Carbs help produce serotonin, a calming hormone that helps fight anxiety's negative effects. Oatmeal is high in fiber, which means your body will absorb it slowly. SALMONResearch shows omega-3 fatty acids -

abundant in fish like salmon - help reverse stress symptoms by boosting serotonin levels, and an omega-3 rich diet can help suppress the production of the anxiety hormones cortisol and adrenaline.

WALNUTS They have been shown to help lower blood pressure, critical for those whose hearts are already working overtime thanks to high adrenaline levels. In fact, research so strongly backs their health benefits that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration goes so far as to recommend 11/2 ounces per day.

- McClatchy-Tribune

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