During this Coronavirus lockdown, students need to stay well-protected from Covid-19 but their mental health is also important. Here are 7 food items which students should eat to improve their mental well-being.

Exam time comes with a lot of stress and anxiety and takes a big toll on the mental health of students. But because of the Coronavirus pandemic, almost all board exams and entrance exams have been postponed. The fact that board exams are still in the future means students cannot relax, and on top of that the 21-day country-wise lockdown announced in India means they cannot go out to play or meet their friends.

Along with the fear created with thousands dying from Covid-19 all over the planet, students are going through a lot of stress.

High level of stress results in the release of certain hormones like cortisol in our body which might affect our potential to concentrate and memorise. Therefore, it is very important to keep stress at a bay, as much as possible, especially for students.

A healthy well-balanced diet plays a very important role to beat the stress. During examinations, most of the students compromise on their diet. High levels of cortisol increases the cravings of unhealthy foods rich in fat and sugar. Unfortunately, this faulty and imbalanced diet not only makes us fat but further increases anxiety levels.

Here are 7 food items students should eat to improve their mental health and get rid of stress:

1. Milk: Milk is one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods for everyone. It is rich in calcium, potassium, proteins, iodine, phosphorus and vitamin B2. Milk aids in reducing stress levels of the body as it contains a protein called lactium, which minimizes cortisol levels.

In addition, milk also contains tryptophan. This amino acid is required for the synthesis of serotonin which relaxes mind and calm our nerves.

2. Yogurt: Yogurt or curd is another stress-relieving food. Yogurt comes with an additional perk of probiotics which promotes a healthy gut microbial balance.

Poor gut health is associated with increased anxiety and depression. Studies revealed that good bacterias like Lactobacillus helps combat the level of stress hormone in body.

3. Banana: Bananas can also be a great snack option. Instead of bingeing on chips and other unhealthy snacks, have banana as fruit or in shakes and smoothies.

Banana has been shown to keep our mood happy and relax by boosting the levels of serotonin.

Moreover, it contains minerals like potassium and magnesium which are good for our blood vessels and eases psychological stress.

4. Orange: Oranges are one of the richest sources of Vitamin C. Some clinical trials suggest that stress causes a dip in Vitamin C levels of the body.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant needed to have a strong immunity. Oranges provide this additional dose of Vitamin C, strengthen immune health, reduces our tendency of falling ill and stress hormone level.

5. Almonds and walnuts: Munching on nuts like almonds and walnuts is a great alternative to satisfy in-between meal, untimely cravings.

They come with the goodness of healthy fats, stress busting and immunity enhancing compounds.

6. Green leafy vegetables: Leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, mustard greens are rich in many vitamins and minerals.

Folate is one of the nutrients present which stimulate the release of dopamine -- a happy hormone, in the body. This aids in relieving stress, regulates our mood and improves the ability to concentrate.

7. Dark chocolate: Yes, you have read it correct! Chocolates also assist in relieving our stress. This is due to the fact that they contain cocoa powder which has a compound called Phenethylamine.

This compound has an ability to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression and elevate our mood. In order to reap the benefits, opt for dark chocolates and have 1-2 cubes per day as they are high in calories as well.

Including these foods in the diet will help in better dealing with the exam pressure and tension. Apart from these foods, make sure to sleep well and take out some time for exercise.

A good night's sleep and a regular physical activity routine work wonders to melt away all the stress.

- Article by Aman Puri, Founder, Steadfast Nutrition