15 Foods That Reduce Stress Levels You Can Try Today

by Funmi // in Nutrition

Foods that reduce stress levels are very much needed in today's stressful world. Stress is an unavoidable part of life.

It can come from a variety of sources, including our jobs, relationships, and even the weather. 

When we’re stressed, it can change how we think about things like food and sleep. In this article, we’ll explore 15 foods that can help to reduce stress levels.

Your Food & You

The foods you eat also have an impact on your stress levels.

Eating foods high in saturated fats or sugars may make you feel more anxious or irritable than usual because these foods are hard for your body to break down into energy. 

On the other hand, eating foods with omega-3 fatty acids will help reduce inflammation in your body which causes stress as well as improve cognitive function such as memory and mood stability. 

There are also foods that contain tryptophan that will increase serotonin levels in order to reduce your anxiety as well.

Foods containing phenethylamine, another neurotransmitter other than serotonin, improves mood by triggering a good feeling in your body as well as causing brain cell dendrites to lengthen. The foods we eat can change how these substances affect us.

Below is the list of foods that reduce stress levels:

1. Fatty fish

Certain nutrients like omega-3 and Vitamin D have been shown to help reduce stress levels and improve mood. Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are rich in these nutrients. 

Omega-3 fatty acids can prevent surges in stress hormones and may help protect against depression, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and heart disease. 

To enjoy a good supply of omega-3s, plan to eat at least 3.5 ounces of fatty fish at least twice a week.

2. Swiss chard 

If you want to guess a leafy green vegetable that's packed with stress-fighting nutrients, Swiss Chard (also commonly known as perpetual spinach, crab beet, mangold, silverbeet and spinach beet) will be on top of your list. 

It can be eaten cooked or raw.

It is a highly nutritious vegetable. One cup provides over three times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K, 44 per cent of the recommended amount of vitamin A and 18 per cent of the recommended amount of vitamin C.

Because it contains 103 mg of sodium per raw cup, which is 4.5 per cent of the recommended daily allowance, consumers should not add salt to Swiss chard.

Chronic stress can deplete your body's magnesium levels, which makes magnesium very important when you are stressed. 

3. Sweet potatoes

One of the foods that reduce stress levels to include in your diet is whole nutrient-rich carb sources like sweet potatoes. It may help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. 

Our cortisol levels are tightly regulated; however, chronic stress can lead to cortisol dysfunction, which may cause pain, inflammation, and other adverse effects.

Sweet potatoes are packed with high amounts of magnesium that is important for heart health and nerve function and is considered to be one of the best minerals for improved mood, promoting calmness and relaxation. 

They are also rich in potassium, which helps regulate your heartbeat, especially when you are stressed or anxious. 

4. Artichokes

Artichokes are a highly concentrated source of fibre and rich in prebiotics which is a type of fibre that feeds the friendly bacteria in the gut. 

Stress has been shown to reduce the healthy diversity of gut bacteria which can contribute to the temporary flattening of natural fluctuations in body temperature. 

Artichokes are considered one of the foods that reduce stress levels because it contains essentials for a healthy response because it is high in magnesium, potassium, and vitamins C and K.

5. Eggs 

Whole eggs are one of the very few foods that are rich in choline. 

Choline is a nutrient necessary for the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that impacts the portions of the brain in charge of regulating mood and reducing stress. 

They also contain vitamin D, which helps relieve anxiety and depression. 

6. Dark Chocolate

One of the foods that reduce stress levels for those with a 'sweet tooth' is dark chocolate because it is a healthier option.

Research has shown that it can help reduce your stress hormones, including cortisol. 

It is packed with fibre and antioxidants, which help prevent cell damage from free radicals. It may also improve blood flow, lower blood pressure and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Dark chocolate also contains unique natural substances that give a sense of euphoria close to the feeling of being in love." 

If you must Indulge a little in dark chocolate, opt for varieties that contain at least 70% cocoa. 

Deeper Dive 

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7. Shellfish

Taurine and other amino acids are required to produce neurotransmitters like dopamine, which are important for regulating the stress response. 

Some studies suggest taurine may have antidepressant effects. 

Shellfish ( clams, mussels, and oysters) are stress-relieving foods rich in amino acids like taurine. 

If you are stressed, sometimes it feels like nothing can take the edge off, however, if you can try to include some shellfish which is also loaded with selenium, zinc, manganese, vitamin B12 and copper, into your meal, it has the potential to help boost mood. 

8. Acerola cherry powder

Acerola cherries are reported to be one of the most concentrated sources of vitamin C. They boast 50–100% more vitamin C than oranges and lemons.

Eating foods high in vitamin C typically improves mood and helps lower the level of anger and depression. 

Acerola Cherries are sold as power majorly because they are highly perishable. 

9. Broccoli

Broccoli is another richly parked stress-relieving food with B vitamins. It has the extra benefit of containing folic acid, which is also part of the B vitamin family. 

Folic acid helps relieve stress, depression, anxiety and panic. 

1 cup (184 grams) of cooked broccoli packs over 20% of the DV for vitamin B6. A high intake of B6 is tied to a lower risk of depression and anxiety in women. 

foods that reduce stress levels

10. Parsley

Oxidative stress is related to various illnesses, and studies have suggested a diet rich in antioxidants may help prevent stress and anxiety. 

Being loaded with antioxidants which can also help reduce inflammation, common among those with chronic stress, parsley tea helps relieve your everyday stress. 

Parsley is rich in flavonoids, volatile oils, and carotenoids, all of which contain powerful antioxidant properties. 

11. Tahini

Tahini is a spread made from sesame seeds which are an excellent source of the amino acid L-tryptophan.

Tahini paste is rich in B vitamins and magnesium, which are important contributors when it comes to converting carbohydrates into energy. 

Tahini is high in healthy fats, and amino acids that help regulate blood pressure and cholesterol, boosts nutrient absorption which can help balance hormones, helps improve skin health, a great source of essential vitamins and minerals.

Rather than go for a coffee pick-me-up, opt for a tasty paste of tahini, and you'll enjoy feeling satisfied and energized without jitters.

12. Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seed is rich in vitamins such as vitamin B1, B5, and E. 

They contain a healthy dose of stress-reducing nutrients like copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium.  

 Four tablespoons of sunflower seeds contain half your daily minimums of these nutrients. 

13. Matcha powder

Matcha is a superfood made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant which are an excellent source of amino acid when compared to other green teas because it is made from green leaves grown in the shade. 

Matcha powder is a fantastic tea powder with L-theanine, a non-protein amino acid with powerful stress-relieving properties. 

One serve of Matcha has been reported to be 10 x more potent than a regular cup of green tea. 

Although Matcha contains caffeine, The caffeine absorbs slowly over 6 hours providing you with a sustained energy boost than a 60 mins spike. The caffeine content in Matcha is only half that of a cup of black coffee.

To manage stress with matcha tea, it is important to make sure that the ratio of theanine to caffeine in your tea is ideally 1 to 2 and does not exceed a ratio of 1 to 3.6. 

14. Blueberries

Blueberries are one of the foods that reduce stress levels, jam-packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, which are great stress busters. 

They're low in calories and are also a good source of fibre, which can help relieve constipation, and that could be triggered during times of stress. 

Studies have shown that consuming flavonoid-rich foods like blueberries may protect you from depression and boost your mood. 

15. Kimchi

Kimchi is a spicy fermented napa cabbage and daikon (a type of radish). Research has shown that fermented foods can potentially reduce stress and anxiety. Kimchi also contains healthy bacteria and probiotics for the overall wellness of your body. It has beneficial effects on mental health, helps Boosts your immunity, Lowers cholesterol levels, Facilitates healthy body development and clear vision, and Produces radiant skin and shiny hair. 

Concluding thoughts

It is important to eat foods that reduce stress levels. This post has given you a list of foods that can help reduce your stress levels and improve your mood. These foods are high in nutrients, low in calories, or contain healthy bacteria which will all contribute towards improving your general health. Let me know if I've missed any foods on this list by leaving a comment below! I'll love to know your favourite on this list. Let me guess........... Dark Chocolates! 

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About the author 


Funmi is a Certified Functional Health Coach. She is passionate about helping female entrepreneurs transform from Stress and burnout so they can begin to thrive in their body and, by extension, their businesses.

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