When you're looking to beat the 3 p.m. slump or need to perk up after a night of too many cocktails, it's easy to reach for a coffee or soda. And while these options might offer a quick fix, they'll soon have you reaching for a second. Or third or fourth. "The trouble with caffeine or high sugar options is that they will give you a temporary boost, followed by a huge drop in energy," says Karen Sullivan, nutritionist and co-author of Eat Yourself To Energy . Instead, choose one of her seven energy-boosting foods, and you might be able to ditch the Starbucks for good.
Not only can pomegranate boost libido, its seeds are powerhouses too. "They're full of energy-producing B vitamins and iron, which encourages production of red blood cells. Research has also found that pomegranate seeds and juice can increase the supply of oxygenated blood to the heart," says Sullivan.
Great news for those with a sweet tooth: "Cocoa is one of the richest sources of antioxidants and contains anandamine, which raises levels of serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine, all of which help you relax and lift mood," says Sullivan. You won't score the same benefits from your average chocolate chip cookies or Oreos. Rather, aim for dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa or more) and organic cocoa nibs to get the boost.
This fish doesn't always get the same attention as salmon, but its perks are comparable."It's a nutrient-dense fish that is rich in vitamin B12, known as the energy vitamin, necessary for the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells and nervous system health," says Sullivan. "Halibut also contains magnesium, a mineral which helps fight fatigue."
A key component of the Mediterranean diet, walnuts are insanely great for the ladies. "This type of nut is one of the best sources of phytoestrogens, a kind of natural plant estrogen, that are particularly good at balancing hormones in women, helping increase energy and reduce fatigue," say Sullivan.
Fatty fish are loaded brain and heart-healthy omega-3s, but if seafood doesn't agree with your taste buds, flaxseeds are the perfect substitute. "They are a great source of Omega-3 oils which lift mood and prevent surges in stress hormones," says Sullivan, and they're "rich in magnesium, which promotes calm and restful sleep." Sprinkle them into your morning oatmeal, post-workout smoothie, yogurt, or stir into homemade turkey burgers for an added fiber boost.
Their deep red color means they're high in antioxidants, says Sullivan, but there are even more perks. "Naturally high in iron, they boost energy by aiding in the production of red blood cells," she says. "They're also high in fiber, promoting a sustained source of energy." Roast, steam or boil them and toss into this super easy beet salad.
There's a good reason you slip into a food-induced coma after Thanksgiving dinner. "The amino acids in turkey promote both calm and relaxation and are also responsible for improving mood and regulating sleep cycle," says Sullivan. "Tryptophan, a type of amino acid, encourages the release of serotonin that lifts mood but also aids sleep." This lean meat won't make you hop off the couch, but it will help you nod off, ensuring you're rested the next day.
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