Want to feel more on top of cramps, mood swings and breakouts? Try adding a few of these seven foods to your plate around the time of your period.

Around 90% of women experience premenstrual syndrome or ‘PMS’, at some point in their lives, so, if you’ve had a period, chances are you’ll be familiar with this unwelcome occurrence.

As many as 150 physical and emotional symptoms have been identified, according to WebMD, but most women experience things like acne, abdominal cramps, breast tenderness, mood swings, irritability and changes in sex drive.

Sometimes snuggling up with a hot water bottle or doing some light exercise is all it takes to ease discomfort. But did you know that some of your favourite foods could also help?

Try one of these seven surprising snacks that are scientifically proven to help you beat the period blues…

1. Hummus

Chickpeas are a great source of vitamin B6, which is integral to the production of serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters involved in mood stabilisation and which help reduce anxiety. B6 has also been shown to reduce water retention, so could help with bloating during your period.

2. Salmon

Studies have found that the omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as salmon and mackerel can reduce the mood imbalances and abdominal pain associated with PMS – possibly because of its anti-inflammatory properties. If you’re in a hurry, omega-3 supplements can also help.

3. Green tea

Hormonal changes during your cycle can lead to the oil glands on your face and scalp producing excess oil known as sebum. This can result in acne and greasy hair. The polyphenols (plant compounds) found in green tea are powerful antioxidants and can reduce sebum production. If you can’t do without caffeine around your period, reach for green tea or regular tea as it contains less than coffee. Caffeine causes blood vessels to constrict, including the ones that cause your uterus to tighten, resulting in cramps.

4. Marmite

Love it or hate it, the fact is Marmite is rich in riboflavin (vitamin B2). This is needed for processing vitamin B6. Two slices of marmite on toast will give you about half the recommended daily intake of riboflavin. Just make sure it’s the reduced salt version. Salt can increase swelling and fluid retention, which can make cramps worse.

5. Low-fat Greek yogurt

Calcium and vitamin D levels fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, while studies show that a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can effectively relieve pain and mood-related PMS symptoms. Snacking on low-fat Greek yogurt will keep your calcium up, while its protein content will reduce inflammation and keep your blood sugar stable.

6. Porridge

Craving sugar and carbs is common in the week before menstruation, but try to hold off on ordering that pizza: white refined carbs can result in a rapid release of blood glucose, making your symptoms worse. Opt for wholegrain carbohydrates like oats, which are great at stabilising blood sugar, reducing cravings and are still delicious.

7. Roast pork

Pork is high in a vitamin called thiamine, which helps the production of the neurotransmitter GABA. This plays an important part in calming your brain cells and as a result, helping you to rest and relax. Research published in Today’s Dietician showed that eating around 1.9mg of thiamine (about 175g pork) could reduce PMS symptoms by 25%.

Want more foods that keep your body and mind healthy? Discover Dr Hazel Wallace’s top snacks for a happy gut.

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