Does stress have you pulling out your hair on a regular basis? There’s another incentive to reduce your stress levels besides keeping your locks intact: you’ll also reduce belly fat.
When you’re emotionally stressed, it means your body is producing higher levels of a hormone known as cortisol. In this stressful state, cortisol will cause your body to store fat, and belly fat in particular, according to Yale researchers.
Besides reserving some me time to relax, another way to reduce stress and cortisol levels is simply by going on a trip to your closest grocery store. As it turns out, you can also eat your stress away, thanks to particular foods that counteract cortisol. These foods are loaded with vitamin C: a nutrient which research has found to lower feelings of stress. Nosh on these vitamin C foods below and then keep the smart choices going by familiarizing yourself with these things you must do for a flat belly!
Listed from least to most stress-busting vitamin C
The following foods are considered to be an “Excellent Source” of vitamin C, which means they provide more than 20% of your DV. With a 60 milligrams per day recommendation, that translates to over 12 milligrams of vitamin C per standard portion size.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup, 15 mg, 25% DV
Tart and sweet, cherries are like candy from the earth. They’re about 81 percent water per volume so they’ll fill you up for very few calories and a one cup serving boasts a quarter of the day’s vitamin C. Cherries have also been marked as a natural sleep aid thanks to their melatonin content. And speaking of catching some Zzz’s, be sure to read up on these ways to lose weight in your sleep!
Vitamin C content: 1 cup, 13.3 mg, 22% DV
They’re not just known for their UTI-fighting powers; cranberries are also one of the lowest-sugar fruits, which makes them a tasty pop of color for your salads or on top of a smoothie bowl.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup boiled, 13.8 mg, 23% DV
This diuretic vegetable is one of the top plant-based sources of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid which serves as the foundation for serotonin stimulation. When your body produces more serotonin it can boost your mood. Asparagus also boasts high levels of folate, a nutrient that may fight depression. Between all that and the vitamin C, these green stalks are like little sticks of instant joy!
Vitamin C content: 1 cup, 14.4 mg, 24% DV
Fighting off belly-fat-triggering cortisol is actually kinda low on a blueberry’s to-do list. But that’s understandable when that’s because the little blue bullet is busy boosting brain power, blasting belly fat, helping your heart and lowering blood pressure, fighting free radicals, and fending off hunger pangs. So yeah, feel free to throw a cup of blueberries into your smoothie, salad, or just eat ’em straight! Watch our video on how to make a Blueberry Dazzler Smoothie, one of the test panelists’ favorites from the best-selling Zero Belly Smoothies!
Vitamin C content: 1 cup, 10.2 mg, 34% DV
Conventionally grown tomatoes are good for your health, but research suggests that the organic varieties are even better. Why? They have a higher level of disease-fighting polyphenols and vitamin C. Dip ’em in hummus as a snack or pile them onto sandwiches and salads to reap the health-boosting benefits.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup, 27 mg, 45% DV
An unsung hero of the produce section, turnips are high in belly-fat-blasting phytochemicals and vitamin C. They’re also rich in fiber, which encourages satiety. A bonus: glucosinolates, the chemical that gives turnips their bitter taste, has been shown to reduce inflammation that can lead to prostate cancer, according to a study published in BJU International. Turnips have the second highest levels of glucosinolates of any vegetable. They’re tasty as a stand-in for mashed potatoes, with one-third the calories and carbs. And for more for easy weight loss hacks check out these lazy ways to lose weight.
Vitamin C content: 1 large potato (baked), 28.7 mg, 48% DV
Stop feeling spooked by spuds; you can totally eat this starch and reap some flat-belly benefits! Potatoes will give you a dose of potassium and fiber, and baking (instead of boiling) them unlocks more of the vitamin C. That said, you can’t go wrong with boiling and then chilling them, either; cooling cooked potatoes turns them into a resistant starch, meaning your body will digest them slower and your blood sugar levels won’t go haywire.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup, 32.3 mg, 53.8% DV
Who doesn’t adore raspberries? Kids love ’em because they’re sweet, chefs like them because they’re tasty and nice to look at, and nutritionists swoon over their nutritional resumé. Packed with antioxidants, insoluble fiber, and vitamin C, these berries reduce fat-causing inflammation while keeping you full and satisfied.
Vitamin C content: 1 large sweet potato (baked), 35.3 mg, 59% DV
Low on the glycemic index but high in fiber, sweet potatoes are a fan favorite because they keep you feeling fuller for longer. They’re also packed with powerful antioxidants that stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance, which prevents calories from being converted into fat.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup shredded, 39.9 mg, 66% DV
Adding shredded cabbage into a salad is a great way to get a good dose of vitamin C. And if you decide to boil it, you’ll unlock a waterfall of antioxidants as well. Your choice!
Vitamin C content: 1 cup, 44.2 mg, 74% DV
Not only will bok choy give your vitamin C counts a boost, it can also help prevent hair loss. No, really! It’s one of the best foods for your hair because it’s high in iron and can help your ferritin levels.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup, 52 mg, 86% DV
This sweet, citrusy fruit provides nearly 90 percent of the day’s vitamin C in a small one cup serving, making it a worthy addition to your weekly grocery lot. Nosh on tangerines solo or throw one into your smoothie with some tofu and vanilla plant protein powder. The ascorbic acid in tangerines helps the body absorb iron from tofu and the flavors combine to make a grown-up version of a Creamsicle.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup, 52 mg, 86% DV
Here at Eat This, Not That! we’re big fans of cauliflower. Not only is it a nutrient-dense flat belly food, but it’s also an incredibly versatile swap for carb-laden, starchy foods. Mashed cauliflower can stand in for mashed potatoes and tiny florets can sub for noodles in mac-and-cheese—now that’s real stress-busting comfort food!
Vitamin C content: 1 cup, 58 mg, 96% DV
Stress can zap your energy and kill your libido. Thankfully, fighting back is as easy as noshing on a cup of cantaloupe. The orange fruit packs a day’s worth of vitamin C and makes a tasty addition to everything from fat-burning detox waters to a light and refreshing fruit salad.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup, 58 mg, 97% DV
Don’t let these little humble guys fool you; a cup of green peas contains eight times the protein of a cup of spinach and almost your entire day of cortisol-crushing vitamin C. Sprinkle them into your salad or add them to an omelet to give your breakfast a boost.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup, 60 mg, 100% DV
Besides providing a day’s worth of vitamin C in every cup, mango’s tropical scent will remind you of a relaxing getaway, slashing stress and helping you slim down simultaneously.
Vitamin C content: ¾ cup, 60 mg, 100% DV
If you find it difficult to fit fruits and veggies into your diet, a fortified cereal is an easy way to load up on a host of good-for-you nutrients, including chillaxing vitamin C. Though there are plenty of options in the grocery store, we’re fans of General Mills Whole Grain Total and Kellogg’s All-Bran Complete Wheat Flakes because they’re filled with fiber and don’t break the calorie or sugar bank.
Vitamin C content: 1 medium, 64 mg, 107% DV
Consuming just one kiwi will provide an entire day’s worth of chillaxing Vitamin C. Eating the fruit can also help fight fatigue, depression, and anxiety, according to a European Journal of Nutrition study. Add the tropical fruit to your oatmeal with some unsweetened coconut, throw it into a smoothie or combine it with other fruits in a light, refreshing salad.
Vitamin C content: 1 medium, 70 mg, 117% DV
A longtime vitamin C MVP, oranges are also good sources of fiber and potassium, and rich in cancer-fighting citrus limonoids. Add oranges to a smoothie, stir pieces into Greek yogurt or eat them on the run for a perfectly self-contained, de-stressing snack.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup, 71 mg, 118% DV
In addition to soothing vitamin C, this South American fruit is a potent source of vision-protecting vitamin A and satiating fiber. Cut the fruit in half and eat the pulp with a spoon, or cut it into pieces and add the meat and seeds into a smoothie with some mango, vanilla yogurt, water and ice. And for more slimming smoothie ideas, check out these best weight loss smoothie recipes.
Vitamin C content: 1 medium, 78 mg, 130% DV
Overflowing with vitamin C, a grapefruit a day can help keep your stress hormones at bay. To best aid your flat-belly efforts, nosh on the fruit as an appetizer. A Metabolism study found the eating half a grapefruit before meals may help reduce belly fat and lower cholesterol levels.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup chunks, 79 mg, 131% DV
What’s not to love about this yellow-hued fruit? Munching on pineapple can make you feel as though you’re a million miles away on a secluded beach, almost instantly. In addition to 79 milligrams of vitamin C, it contains bromelain, a digestive enzyme that helps break down food and reduce bloating.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup chopped, 87 mg, 145% DV
Kale, the unofficial king of the produce aisle, boasts 133 percent of the day’s vitamin A and nearly one-and-a-half times the recommended amount of vitamin C. Sauteéd kale makes a great addition to stir-fry dishes, soups, and omelets, while the raw variety can be squeezed into a sandwich or used as a salad or smoothie base.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup (diced), 88 mg, 146% DV
Papaya, sometimes called “the fruit of the angels,” is an oft-overlooked nutritional goldmine. The exotic fruit provides an impressive 88 milligrams of vitamin C and 2.5 grams of belly-filling fiber for just 62 calories and 11 grams of sugar.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup, halved, 89 mg, 148% DV
We’re sweet on strawberries because they’re a flavorful way to sate cravings and are chock-full of polyphenols, powerful natural chemicals that can help you lose weight–and even stop fat from forming. Slice up a cup and nosh on them as an afternoon snack, add them to salad, or use them in your overnight oats to get a solid hit of de-stressing vitamin C.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup cooked, 97 mg, 161% DV
In addition to serving up nearly two days’ worth of vitamin C, this cruciferous veggie is a good source of heart-healthy omega-3s. If you don’t care for fish, sprouts and other foods rich in the nutrient like walnuts and flaxseeds are important additions to your diet.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup cooked, 102 mg, 170% DV
In addition to its impressive vitamin C content, broccoli is filled with a powerful cancer-killing agent called sulforaphane that increases testosterone and fights body-fat storage. Fill your plate with this green superfood to keep stress and illness at bay.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup, 103 mg, 171% DV
This South American pepper is known for its banana-esque shape and mild yet tangy flavor. Ask the person behind the deli counter to throw a handful onto your sandwich to get a vitamin C boost in the midst of your hectic workday.
Vitamin C content: ½ cup, 160 mg, 267% DV
Typically used in jams or juices, black currants are tart little berries that aren’t very popular in the U.S. but do offer an exciting array of nutrition. Not only are they rich in vitamin C, experts reportedly say black currants have up to twice as many antioxidants as blueberries.
Red Bell Pepper
Vitamin C content: 1 cup, raw, chopped 190 mg, 316% DV
Thanks to the metabolism-boosting compound dihydrocapsiate and their high vitamin C content, bell peppers make a solid addition to any weight loss diet. Dip slices of the veggie into hummus, add the veggie to sandwiches and salads or throw some steak in a corn tortilla with salsa, black beans, red pepper and onion for a Mexi-inspired dinner.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup chopped, 195 mg, 325% DV
Mustard spinach, or tendergreen mustard, is among the most vitamin C-filled veggies in the supermarket. And considering it’s a member of the brassica family, that’s no surprise. Many of its cousins (like cauliflower, kale, and broccoli) are also potent sources of the nutrient. Add the peppery green into Asian-inspired stir-fries.
Vitamin C content: 1 cup raw, 376 mg, 626% DV
Guava is one of the most vitamin C-packed foods in the world. The sweet fruit packs nearly a week’s worth of vitamin C into a mere one-cup serving. It also has a higher concentration of lycopene (a cancer-fighting antioxidant) than any other fruit or vegetable. Never eaten one before? You might be surprised to find the fruit overflowing with seeds. Don’t bother trying to eat around them—they’re edible, so just dig in!