10 Superfoods for Stress Relief

10 Superfoods for Stress Relief 

10 superfoods for stress relief

Sometimes we think the easiest solution when we are stressed is to head straight for the junk food, but we all know how it makes us feel in the long run. Plus, you’re still left with the stress you had in the first place and a possible upset stomach. But, did you know reducing stress can often be as simple as what we choose to eat that day?

At the end of a long stressful day, bag the processed foods and try eating nutritionally dense, plant-based foods. There are many plant-based foods that actually help eliminate our stress, they are packed with many nutrients including stress-fighting vitamins and minerals. Some of these foods do more than just reduce stress, they help improve your digestive system, lower blood pressure, and reduce depression just to name a few. Here are 10 superfoods for stress relief to add to your plate.

Stress-fighting foods

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens contain a special component called folate, which releases dopamine, a chemical in the brain that promotes happiness and calmness. A 2012 study gathered together 2,800 middle-aged and elderly people, the study found that those who consumed diets rich in folate had a lower lower risk of depression compared to those who had a diet low in folate. Another study by  the University of Otago, found that college students who ate plenty of fruits and veggies felt happier, calmer, and more energetic. So, the next time you have a meal, include some extra leafy greens. Leafy greens include: spinach, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard, arugula, etc.


When we get stressed, it’s common for someone to want to reach for a sugary treat rich in carbs. Studies suggest that carbohydrates can help the brain release a chemical called serotonin, which is a common substance in antidepressants. But, next time you get stressed try reaching for complex carbs. “Stress can cause your blood sugar to rise, so a complex carb like oatmeal won’t contribute to your already potential spike in blood glucose.”


When you are stressed it can raise your anxiety hormones like adrenalin or cortisol. Lisa Cimperman, RD, of the University Hospitals Case Medical Center says “The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon have anti-inflammatory properties that may help counteract the negative effects of stress hormones.” In a study conducted by National Institutes of Health, students who were given omega-3 supplements had 20% less anxiety when compared to those who were given placebo pills. Just one 3 ounce serving of cooked salmon can contain at least 2,000 milligrams of omega-3s.


When you are stressed, it’s said that doing something repetitive with your hands may help quiet your mind. Shelling and cracking open pistachios will help you relax, plus eating pistachios helps manage over-eating. Pistachios also have heart healthy benefits, by lowering high blood pressure and heart-rate, they help reduce stress. They also contain phytonutrients which may help support cardiovascular health.


Studies suggest that cacao may help lower your stress levels. Cacao has been shown to reduce hormone levels like cortisol. It also helps lower blood pressure, and improve circulation. Cacao contains theobromine, which is a stimulant known to treat depression. It may also cause the  brain to produce more of a neurotransmitter called anandamide, which would account for the euphoric sensation some feel when eating chocolate.


Flax, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds are all excellent sources of magnesium, which may help regulate hormones. Studies have shown magnesium may help manage depression, irritability, and fatigue. Try snacking on a small handful of seeds, or add them to salads, smoothies, granola, etc.


If you suffer from stress, it may be caused by unwanted bacteria in the gut. Our brain signals to the gut, which is why stress can cause an upset stomach or diarrhea. A 2013 study gathered together 36 women, where they revealed that the probiotics in yogurt helped reduce stress levels when compared to those who did not eat yogurt. Probiotics helps boost serotonin and improve digestion and brain health and improve moods. Opt for a dairy free yogurt like organic, Non-GMO coconut yogurt whereas dairy can often upset the digestive system. Other good probitoic rich foods are: sauerkraut, kimchi, and protein supplements.


When we are stressed we often tend to overeat and an avocado may be our cure. Avocados are full of fiber and may help stop overeating/cravings when you are stressed, by keeping your belly full and satisfied. Avocados are also rich in nutrients like healthy fats, Vitamin B6, tryptophan, protein, Vitamin E, and magnesium.


Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed, snack on a handful of delicious almonds. Almonds are rich in protein, magnesium, and B vitamins, all of which help reduce stress and fight stress related cravings. Walnuts and cashews are also great stress-fighting snacks.


According to research, the antioxidants and phytonutrients found in blueberries and other like berries help our bodies manage stress and fight stress related free-radicals. Research has also shown that people who regularly eat blueberries may experience a boost in natural killer cells, “a type of white blood cell that plays a vital role in immunity, critical for countering stress,” says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health’s contributing nutrition editor.

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