10 Stress-Reducing Foods to Help You Unwind and Relax

By Krista

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Last Updated: December 14, 2022

Stress is a completely normal part of life. We all go through stressful times.

However, chronic and persistent stress can quickly become problematic for your health and quality of life. 

At the same time, what you do—or what you eat—can help in leaps and bounds, allowing you to get any stress under control before it becomes a bigger problem. In fact, a lot of health woes (mental and physical) come back to your diet. 

At the end of the day, your diet offers your body the building blocks and resources to function optimally.

If you aren’t getting adequate nutrition, things can start to go a little awry (including increased stress throughout the body!).

  • So, what stress-reducing foods should you add to your diet?
  • How can you de-stress through the food your eat?

 

 

What Are Some Stress-Reducing Foods?

Food is powerful! Let me say that again… Food is powerful.

It nourishes our bodies, providing energy and more. In turn, we thrive. We heal. We even (technically) regenerate. 

And while those comfort foods, usually “junk” foods, may seem tempting during times of stress, there are better options that actually help you cope. Below, we outline 10 stress-reducing foods you should try next time you feel overwhelmed by stress.

Related Article: What Are the Four Types of Stress and How Can You Gain Control Over Them?

 

1. Swiss Chard

The last thing you might think that helps with stress are leafy greens. Yet, chard actually contains some pretty helpful compounds that can alleviate stress. Most importantly, chard contains a good dose of magnesium (something that is hard to find in other foods!), which can help lower stress.

In fact, low levels of magnesium are linked to panic attacks. Additionally, ongoing stress tends to deplete magnesium stores in the body, meaning you need even more of this mineral during those stressful times.

 

2. Sweet Potatoes

Ever notice how you crave carbs when stressed? Well, there’s a good reason for this. During stressful times, the body requires more energy and carbs offer an easy way to obtain this energy. 

Research even indicates how eating nutrient-rich carbohydrates, like the sweet potato, may offer a stress-reducing food that actually lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body. In turn, this will lessen the impact that chronic stress can have on the body and potentially even improve inflammation.

 

3. Artichokes

Artichokes are another stress-reducing food that you probably don’t turn to right at the onset of stress or anxiety. The magic of Artichokes lies in their prebiotics content

Prebiotics feed the gut bacteria, which may help lower stress levels; The brain-gut connection has been vastly explored in research studies and this is just another layer of it.

In fact, one study showed how eating more prebiotics each day actually improved depression and anxiety symptoms. This means they can also reduce stress in the body, helping you find that equilibrium once again.

 

4. Organ Meats

In the health community, organ meats are all the rage right now. Yet, it’s nothing new. Our ancestors used to eat a variety of organ meats, like liver and kidney, but it’s simply not as common in the modern world.

However, organ meats tend to be jam-packed with essential stress-reducing nutrients, such as vitamin B, which play critical roles in the production of serotonin and dopamine. In turn, this can help regulate your mood and damper the stress response.

 

5. Eggs

That regular morning feature has many benefits. And no, it’s not likely that eggs will lead to heart issues (in fact, this has been debunked in various studies!). 

Yet, when it comes to stress reducing foods, eggs kind of have it all. They are packed with nutrients including antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Eggs are also high in choline, which is thought to possibly protect the body from stress.

 

6. Oysters

Potentially an acquired taste! But don’t let this delicate and unique food fool you. Oysters are high in amino acids, zinc, selenium, vitamin B12, and more.

A Japanese study further showed how deficiencies in zinc and selenium may be linked to increased anxiety symptoms and stress. So, go out for those oysters! They might just help combat all that stress you’re trying to shake.

 

7. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish are a favorite for their high amount of Omega-3s.

Types of fatty fish, such as sardines, salmon, mackerel, and herring, also have vitamin D, which is further thought to help reduce stress and regulate one’s mood. Eating fish a few times a week is considered ideal to truly reap these benefits.

 

8. Garlic

Garlic doesn’t only get rid of vampires; it also can help you say goodbye to stress!

It has the ability to increase glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, which is very proactive at reducing stress and anxiety. So, go ahead… Add a little more garlic to that next recipe!

 

9. Blueberries

Blueberries contain tons of antioxidants.

These antioxidants are associated with powerful neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects. In fact, eating blueberries regularly might even improve your mood. And there are tons of ways to add these to your diet!

You can throw them in yogurt. Grab a handful for snack. Add them to a salad. Or blend them in a smoothie. This is an easy food to include; the bonus is that it also decreases stress.

 

10. Dark Chocolate

If you turn to chocolate when feeling stressed, it might not actually be a bad thing, especially if it’s dark chocolate!

Dark chocolate has antioxidants that can help fight stress in the body and prevent it. This is one indulgence you can definitely keep in your regular rotation.

However, at the same time, dark chocolate should always be consumed in moderation due to its potential high processing and high sugar content. Those calories can add up, and lead to weight gain if not careful. 

Related Article: A Life of Less Stress: 7 Thoughtful Things for You to Consider

 

 

Try These Stress-Reducing Foods Today!

Stressed? Anxious? Are you going through some serious life changes? Eating a diet containing nutrient-rich and antioxidant-rich foods can help you de-stress before it happens. Not only that, but these foods will keep you in good health and a good mood, guiding you toward living the life you want. 

Pay close attention to your diet. Make sure you’re nourishing your body as opposed to hindering it. Food is truly the world’s natural medicine, when used properly.

As Hippocrates famously is quoted,

“Let food by thy medicine and medicine by thy food.”

Read Next: 15 Stress Relieving Tips to Help You Through the Holidays

Photo by Foodie Factor

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