20 Foods To Fight Stress
Although occasional stretches of stress are an expected part of life, chronic stress can wreak havoc on your emotional and physical health. Just as certain foods can help boost your energy levels and reduce inflammation, some foods can help your body fight off stress.
Here are 18 foods and drinks that may help relieve stress.
1. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile, a medicinal herb used since ancient times, is well-known for its calming effects and natural-stress busting abilities. Its extract and tea have been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and promote restful sleep.
2. Matcha Powder
Matcha powder is rich in L-theanine, an amino acid that is famous for its stress-relieving abilities. Since it is made from leaves grown in the shade, it contains more of this amino acid than other types of green tea.
Studies show that matcha’s L-theanine content may help reduce levels of stress.
3. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard, a leafy green vegetable, is packed with stress-relieving nutrients such as magnesium. Low levels of magnesium have been linked to higher levels of stress.
Chronic stress may decrease the body’s stores of magnesium, making it especially crucial to get enough of this nutrient if you are stressed.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Eating carbohydrates that are nutrient-rich may help decrease levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. With vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and a host of other nutrients, sweet potatoes are an excellent way to add healthy carbs to your diet.
Chronic stress can lead to a dysfunction in cortisol control, increasing the risk of pain, inflammation, and other health effects.
One study found that women who ate a diet rich in nutrient-dense whole grains had lower levels of cortisol than those who followed a diet high in refined carbohydrates.
Kimchi, a fermented vegetable typically made from daikon and napa cabbage, is rich in:
- Probiotics (beneficial bacteria that support gut health)
Research shows that fermented foods such as kimchi may help decrease stress. Additionally, studies show that probiotic-rich foods may have beneficial effects on mood due to interactions with gut bacteria.
Artichokes are a concentrated source of fiber and prebiotics — a type of fiber that the friendly bacteria in the gut feed on — such as fructooligosaccharides (FOSs).
As shown in animal studies, prebiotics such as fructooligosaccharides (FOSs) may help reduce stress levels.
Artichokes are also high in other stress-fighting nutrients such as:
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin C
Made from sesame seeds, tahini is a rich source of the amino acid L-tryptophan, a precursor of mood-regulating neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Tahini also contains:
- Healthy fats
6. Organ Meats
Organ meats are an excellent source of B vitamins including folate, riboflavin, B6, and B12. B vitamins are essential for the production of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that help regulate mood.
Examples of organ meats include:
Eggs, often referred to as a superfood, boast an impressive array of nutrients such as:
- Vitamin D
Whole eggs are a rare food source of choline, a nutrient that may play a role in brain health and stress levels.
10. Acerola Cherry Powder
With up to 100% more vitamin C than other citrus fruits such as lemons or oranges, acerola cherries are an impressive source of vitamin C.
High levels of vitamin C are associated with improved stress response, elevated mood, and more.
Although acerola cherries can be enjoyed fresh, they perish easily, making acerola cherry powder a convenient way to reap their benefits. This powder can be easily added to a variety of foods and beverages.
Shellfish such as oysters, mussels, and clams are high in amino acids such as taurine, which has been studied for its potential to boost overall mood.
Amino acids such as taurine are essential for producing neurotransmitters such as dopamine.
Shellfish are also loaded with other mood-supporting nutrients such as:
- Vitamin B12
12. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich sources of vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids, nutrients that have been proven to help support a healthy mood.
Along with being essential for brain health, omega 3s may also help the body handle stress better. Vitamin D also plays a crucial role in stress regulation and mental health.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli are well known for their health benefits. As one of the most concentrated sources of nutrients such as folate, vitamin C, and magnesium, it is no surprise broccoli is an excellent natural stress fighter.
Broccoli is also rich in vitamin B6 and sulforaphane, a sulfur compound with neuroprotective properties.
Parsley is an herb that is bursting with antioxidants, compounds that fight unstable molecules called free radicals that cause oxidative stress.
Studies suggest that a diet high in antioxidants may help reduce stress and lower inflammation, which is often high in individuals with chronic stress.
Parsley is especially rich in volatile oils, carotenoids, and flavonoids, all of which possess potent antioxidant properties.
15. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a rich source of vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as a powerful antioxidant.
Sunflower seeds are also high in other stress-reducing nutrients such as
- B vitamins
Chickpeas are packed with stress-fighting vitamins and minerals, including:
- B vitamins
These legumes are also a good source of tryptophan, a nutrient needed to produce neurotransmitters that regulate mood.
Blueberries are associated with several health benefits thanks to the antioxidant properties of the flavonoids found in them. Flavonoid-rich foods such as blueberries have been associated with neuroprotective and anti-stress effects.
Garlic is high in sulfur compounds that help increase levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that acts as the body’s first defense against stress.
Garlic also contains other beneficial nutrients such as:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin C
19. Green Tea
Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea leaves, is known for helping to promote relaxation and help keep stress levels down. Green tea is also packed with other antioxidants to provide overall stress support.
Avocados are more than just a delicious addition to salads, smoothies, and dips — they are also bursting with a host of powerful nutrients that may help improve mood and reduce stress levels.
Some key nutrients found in avocados include:
- Healthy fats
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Beta carotene
The Bottom Line
Have you been dealing with extra stress lately? Consider adding some of the nutrient-dense foods mentioned above to your diet to see if you experience a positive effect.
Do you have any favorite foods for fighting off stress? We would love to know your go-to stress-fighting foods in the comments.