Next time your buttons get pushed, reach for a banana, says Molly Kimball, RD, a certified specialist in sports dietetics with Ochsner's Elmwood Fitness Center in New Orleans. With only 105 calories and 14 g of sugar, a medium banana fills you up, provides a mild blood sugar boost, and has 30% of the day's vitamin B6, which helps the brain produce mellowing serotonin, getting you through a crisis peacefully.
Sixty raisins—about a handful—contain 1 g of fiber and 212 mg of potassium, both recommended in the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. Numerous studies show that polyphenols in grape-derived foods such as raisins, wine, and juice are effective in maintaining cardiovascular health, including bringing down blood pressure.
Cure for: Tummy troubles
Studies suggest that eugenol, a compound in basil, can keep your gut safe from pain, nausea, cramping, or diarrhea by killing off bacteria such as Salmonella and Listeria. Eugenol even has an antispasmodic property that can keep cramps at bay, says Mildred Mattfeldt-Beman, PhD, chair of the department of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University. Use minced fresh basil in sauces or salads.
4. Buckwheat honey
Cure for: Coughing
In a study at Pennsylvania State University, 2 teaspoons of thick, dark brown honey were more effective than OTC cough medicines at limiting the severity and frequency of a cough in children. Honey's antioxidants and antimicrobial properties may soothe inflamed throat tissues, says John La Puma, MD, director of Chef Clinic in California.
A 2002 study at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that sulforaphane, a powerful compound in cabbage, clobbers H. pylori (the bacteria that causes gastric and peptic ulcers) before it can get to your gut, and may even help inhibit the growth of gastric tumors. For only 34 calories a cup, cabbage provides 3 g of fiber and 75% of the day's vitamin C.
Cure for: Fatigue
The fructose in a 4-ounce glass is a perfect pick-me-up, says Gerbstadt. Some studies suggest that vitamin C's ability to combat oxidative stress caused by free radicals may provide energy, and the vitamin plays a key role in metabolizing iron, which helps your body move energizing oxygen through your bloodstream, she adds.
"Chamomile can ease digestive inflammation, spasms, and gas," says Dale Bellisfield, RN, a clinical herbalist in New Jersey. Steep 2 teaspoons of the herb in10 ounces of very hot water for 20 minutes, covering the cup to keep the essential oils in the water. You may have to drink the tea a few times a day for complete relief.
Cure for: Headache
The 37 g of carbs in a medium potato can ease a tension headache by upping serotonin levels, as long as you keep the fat and protein below 2 g.