Here's our thinking: A recent Pennsylvania State University study found that eating pistachios reduced the body's response to stress among people with type 2 diabetes. Subjects showed "lowered vascular constriction during stress and improved neural control of the heart," said study co-author Sheila G. West in a press release.
But Lilian Cheung, director of health promotion and communication at Harvard University's Department of Nutrition and co-author of " Savor—Mindful Eating, Mindful Life," believes there's something far more basic at play here. "The pistachio is actually a good food to manage stress," Cheung told us, because "you cannot just gulp it down quickly." The act of prying open a pistachio slows down the eating process, which can increase mindfulness and reduce stress.
There are other benefits, too. "Eating slowly allows the person to be much more in touch with their hunger and satiety signals," Cheung explained, which helps to curb overeating. It also gives the stomach more time to digest, which helps prevent indigestion and stress.
Cheung suggests taking a few breaths in and out before every meal, focusing on each inhale and exhale. "Even taking three breaths helps a person switch from the chatter in the mind to the food in front of them. And then, the person can slow down and then truly allow the food to nourish them."
Pistachios aren't the only slow-down foods out there, though. Click through the slideshow for other ways to chow down and chill out.