Updated: Feb 18
If you feel stressed, it's only natural to seek relief.
While occasional stress disorders are challenging to avoid, chronic stress can severely impact your physical and emotional health. It may increase your risk of heart disease and depression.
Interestingly, certain foods and beverages may have stress-relieving properties.
Here are 15 stress-relieving foods and drinks to add to your diet.
"Health of the microbiome, or intestinal health, affects your mood, emotions, and psychological health,"
1. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a whole food that is an excellent choice for carbs. They are packed with nutrients that are important to your stress response, such as vitamin C and potassium.
Eating whole, nutrient-rich carb sources, may help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Although cortisol levels are tightly regulated, chronic stress can lead to cortisol dysfunction, which can cause inflammation, pain, and other adverse reactions.
An 8-week study in overweight or obese women found that those who ate a diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense carbs had significantly lower salivary cortisol levels than those who followed a standard American diet high in refined carbs.
Kimchi is a fermented vegetable dish, usually made with Napa cabbage and daikon. Fermented foods such as kimchi are packed with beneficial bacteria called probiotics and high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Many other studies show that probiotic supplements and probiotic-rich foods have beneficial mental health effects. This is likely due to their interactions with your intestinal bacteria, which directly affect your mood.
Research shows that fermented foods can help to reduce stress and anxiety. For example, in a study of 710 young adults, those who ate fermented foods were more likely to experience fewer social anxiety symptoms.
3. Organ meats
Organ meats, which includes the heart, liver, and kidneys of animals such as cows and chickens, is an excellent source of B vitamins, especially B12, B6, riboflavin, and folate that help control stress.
Supplementing B vitamins or eating food such as organ meats can help reduce stress. A review of 18 adult studies found that B vitamin supplements lowered stress levels and significantly benefited mood.
For example, B vitamins are necessary to produce neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which help regulate mood.
Eggs are often referred to as nature's multivitamin because of their impressive nutrient profile. Whole eggs are packed with the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants needed for a healthy stress response.
Whole eggs are particularly rich in choline, a nutrient found in large quantities in only a few foods. Choline has been shown to play an essential role in the brain's health and may protect against stress. Animal studies note that choline supplements may help to respond to stress and increase mood.
Shellfish, including mussels, clams, and oysters, are high in amino acids such as taurine, which known for their potential mood-boosting properties. Taurine and other amino acids are needed to produce neurotransmitters such as dopamine, which are essential for regulating stress reactions. Studies suggest that taurine may have antidepressant effects.
6. Fatty fish
Fatty fish such as mackerel, herring, salmon, and sardines are incredibly high in omega-3 fats and vitamin D. These are nutrients that have been shown to help relieve depression and boost mood.
Omega-3s are not only crucial to your brain's health and mood but can also allow your body to deal with stress. Low omega-3 intake is correlated with elevated anxiety and depression in western populations.
Vitamin D also plays a vital function in the management of mental wellbeing and stress. Low levels are associated with an elevated risk of anxiety and depression;
Parsley is exceptionally abundant in carotenoids, flavonoids, and volatile oils, all of which have strong antioxidant properties. Studies show that a diet high in antioxidants can help prevent stress and anxiety. Antioxidants can also help to minimize inflammation, which is often elevated in people with chronic stress.
Parsley is a nutritious herb filled with antioxidants that neutralize reactive molecules called free radicals and guard against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is associated with many diseases, including mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli are known for their nutritional benefits - including magnesium, vitamin C, and folate—these vitamins/minerals have been shown to combat depressive symptoms.. A diet rich in cruciferous vegetables can lower the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and mental health disorders such as depression.
Chickpeas are filled with stress-resistant vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, zinc, selenium, manganese, and copper. These tasty legumes are also abundant in L-tryptophan that your body uses to manufacture mood-regulating neurotransmitters.
Research has shown that diets high in plant proteins such as chickpeas can enhance brain health and increase mental output.
Blueberries are related to a variety of health benefits, including better mood. These berries are rich in flavonoid antioxidants with potent anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective impact. They can help reduce stress-related inflammation and protect against stress-related cell damage.
Artichokes are an extremely concentrated source of fibre and are exceptionally rich in prebiotics, a form of fibre that feeds friendly bacteria in your intestines. Plus, one review found that people who ate 5 or more grams of prebiotics a day reported improved symptoms of anxiety and depression. High-quality, prebiotic-rich diets could reduce the risk of stress.
12. Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seed is a rich source of vitamin E. This fat-soluble vitamin serves as a potent antioxidant and is essential for mental health. Low consumption of this nutrient is associated with changes in mood and depression.
13. Matcha powder
Matcha is a better source of amino acids than any other type of green tea, as it is made from green tea leaves grown in the shade. This process increases the content of certain compounds, including L-theanine. Both human and animal studies show that Matcha may reduce stress if its L-theanine content is high enough and its caffeine content is low.
For example, in a 15-day study, 36 people had cookies containing 4.5 grams of Matcha powder each day. The stress marker activity of salivary alpha-amylase was significantly reduced compared to the placebo group.
14. Chamomile tea
Chamomile is a medicinal herb that has been used as a natural stress reducer since ancient times. Its tea and extract have been shown to promote restful sleep and reduce anxiety and depression symptoms.
An 8-week study in 45 people with anxiety showed that taking 1.5 grams of chamomile extract reduced salivary cortisol levels and improved anxiety symptoms.
15. Acerola cherry powder
Acerola cherry is one of the most abundant types of vitamin C. They have 50–100 percent more vitamin C than citrus fruits like oranges and lemons. Vitamin C is involved in the stress reaction. In comparison, high vitamin C levels are associated with increased mood and lower levels of depression and frustration. Also, consuming foods rich in this vitamin can boost overall mood.
While they can be enjoyed fresh, the cherries of acerola are incredibly perishable. As such, they are most commonly sold as a powder that you can apply to food and drink.