Take some stress off your body

Last Modified: 4/14/2022


This post was written by Rachel Stohlman, RDN, LD, Parkview Health.

Did you know you can eat away stress? Or, put another way, that you have the power to prevent stress from damaging your body based on the foods you eat?

The things we do from day to day, such as digesting food, walking, or even breathing, can cause our body to create stress as a byproduct of necessary cellular functions. The stress created from our everyday activities is called free radicals and it can lead to body cells being damaged if they accumulate over time, putting individuals at risk for heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, eye diseases and weakened immune systems. This puts one at a disadvantage when it comes to doing their best at work, in their social life and maintaining their overall health.

How to stop the damage of stress

Consuming antioxidants can stop free radicals from causing damage on the body and help different organs function optimally. Antioxidants are found naturally in a variety of foods. They are also available in supplement form, however, studies have shown that the benefits of antioxidants aren’t seen in their supplement forms and put one at a higher risk of over consumption that can lead to potential harm, therefore, food is the optimal source of antioxidants.

Where to find antioxidants

Antioxidants are associated with different colors of fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is most known for helping the immune system fight disease, infections and viruses. Vitamin C also aids in healing major wounds. When thinking of sources of Vitamin C, oranges are the produce item that typically comes to mind, but they aren’t the only option. Vitamin C is typically found in citrus fruits, tomatoes and broccoli. When looking for ways to add additional vitamin C to a dish or plate, consider throwing in some tomatoes or broccoli into a soup or salad.

Recipe to try

Start your day with this simple smoothie for a healthy dose of health-promoting antioxidants!

Sunshine Smoothie

1 cup low fat milk
½ orange, peeled and seeded
1 cup greens of your choice
½ banana
¼ mango, peeled

  1. Add all ingredients to blender and blend well.


Carotenoids are important for vision, immune system health and bone growth, just to name a few. Carotenoid is an overarching name for multiple antioxidants, which include lycopene, lutein and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene and lutein may help to lower the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration. Both eye diseases are associated with aging and can develop from free radical damage.

Lycopene is beneficial for protection against heart disease. Carotenoids are typically found in dark leafy green and orange/yellow vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and Brussel sprouts. To see the benefits of carotenoids, add some chopped carrots to a chili or roast some Brussel sprouts as a side dish.

Recipe to try

Roasted Carotenoid Veggies

½ cup olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup maple syrup 2 sweet potatoes, cubed
4 carrots, sliced
4 beets, peeled and sliced
3 cups Brussel sprouts, halved
1-2 sweet onions
½ tsp dried thyme

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper for easier clean up.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, syrup and vinegar. Add the veggies and thyme and toss until all are coated.
  3. Spread evenly over greased baking sheets. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven when all vegetables are tender and slightly browned. Serve warm.

Adding these fruits and veggies will not only help you to “eat the stress away” but provide a colorful plate, bright taste and improved body function.  

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