Top 10 Foods to Help Reduce Stress in Your Daily Life

Top 10 Foods to Help Reduce Stress in Your Daily Life

Feeling stressed out? Believe it or not, what you eat can make a big difference in how you handle stress. Some foods have special nutrients that help your body and mind stay calm. Let’s dive into the top 10 foods that can help you feel more relaxed and less frazzled.


  • Certain foods can help reduce stress by providing essential nutrients.
  • Dark chocolate can boost your mood and reduce stress hormones.
  • Nuts are packed with healthy fats that support brain health.
  • Leafy greens contain magnesium, which helps relax the body.
  • Fermented foods support gut health, which is linked to better mood.

1. Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, which are antioxidants found in plants that help improve blood flow to your brain. Just a small piece every day will do the trick! Enjoy a little piece after dinner for a treat or add a few dark chocolate chips to some nuts and dried fruit for an afternoon snack or even your morning granola!

Favorite Dark Chocolate Recipes

  • Dark Chocolate Mousse
  • Homemade Dark Chocolate Granola

Health Benefits

Dark chocolate, which is rich in antioxidants, may also help reduce stress by lowering levels of stress hormones in the body. A study followed participants who ate about 1.5 ounces per day for two weeks and found significant benefits. But be sure to enjoy dark chocolate in moderation. Aim to eat only one-fourth of a small dark chocolate bar (about 1 oz). Also, make sure the bar doesn’t contain an unnecessary surplus of added sugar.

Remember the importance of stress management: why it matters? Stress affects relationships, productivity, and health. Learn practical tips for managing stress effectively.

2. Nuts


Nuts are a superfood with mental and physical health benefits. Adding just a handful of nuts to your daily diet can benefit heart health, lower the risk of depression, increase longevity, and give the brain a boost. Nuts are full of nutrients, including B vitamins and healthy fatty acids. B vitamins are an important part of a healthy diet and can help reduce stress. Almonds, pistachios, and walnuts may even help lower blood pressure levels.

According to a small 2022 study, walnut consumption among college students was found to have a possible protective effect against some of the negative impacts of academic stress. If you’re looking to add nuts to your diet, just remember to limit servings to a handful a day because they’re high in calories.

Eating a handful of pistachios, walnuts, or almonds every day may help lower your cholesterol, ease inflammation in your heart’s arteries, make diabetes less likely, and protect you against the effects of stress.

3. Citrus


Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are packed with the antioxidant vitamin C. One orange provides almost the recommended daily amount of this essential nutrient. Research shows that higher intakes of vitamin C can help reduce feelings of anxiety during stressful situations.

Citrus fruits are not just for breakfast. You can add grapefruit or orange segments to a salad or squeeze lemon on fish. These fruits are versatile and can be included in various meals throughout the day.

Some favorite citrus recipes include:

  • Smoked Salmon Citrus Salad
  • Fennel and Orange Salad
  • Citrus Arugula Salad with Pomegranate Dressing

Including more citrus fruits in your diet can be a simple and tasty way to help manage stress and improve your overall well-being.

4. Leafy Greens

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are packed with nutrients that can help you feel calmer and more relaxed. Making leafy greens a part of your diet will help you to feel happier and less stressed out overall. These greens are rich in magnesium, a mineral that has been linked to lower levels of stress and anxiety. People who don’t get enough magnesium often feel more anxious.

Leafy greens are also high in vitamin C, which is important because our bodies can’t make this vitamin on their own. A lack of vitamin C can lead to higher stress levels. Additionally, these greens contain folate, also known as vitamin B9, which helps reduce stress hormones in the body.

Here are some easy ways to add more leafy greens to your meals:

  • Toss them into a salad
  • Add them to soups
  • Mix them into grain bowls

Including leafy greens in your meals is a simple and effective way to boost your mood and reduce stress.

Favorite recipes with leafy greens:

  • Italian-Style Beans and Greens
  • Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad
  • Stir-Fry Spinach with Garlic
  • Calvo Nero Salad (Tuscan Kale Salad)

5. Seafood


Seafood is not just delicious but also a fantastic stress relieving foodA prime example is salmon, which contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. These have been shown to improve brain health, and you can find them in other fatty fish like tuna, halibut, and sardines. Omega-3s are essential for the growth and development of brain cells, making them crucial for everyone, from babies to adults.

If you’re hesitant to cook seafood at home, there are easy ways to incorporate it into your diet. You can add canned tuna, salmon, or sardines to a salad or stir them into pasta for a quick dinner. Many grocery stores also offer pre-cooked options like salmon filets or crab cakes.

Seafood is also rich in vitamin B12 and selenium, two important nutrients that may help reduce the risk of depression. So, next time you’re planning a meal, consider adding some seafood to your plate for both its taste and its stress-relieving benefits.

6. Tea


Tea is a wonderful beverage that can help you unwind and reduce stress. Both green and black tea are rich in polyphenols, which are compounds found in plants that have antioxidant properties. These nutrients help reduce inflammation in our brain and keep the communication system between our gut and brain working smoothly. Drinking tea can make you feel calmer and more relaxed.

Chamomile and peppermint teas have been used for centuries as calming agents and to help with sleep. Matcha, a powdered form of green tea, contains L-theanine, an amino acid that modulates brain pathways. Some research has shown that it can help reduce stress.

Sometimes it’s the feeling that food or drinks induce, not their nutrients, that helps reduce stress. Drinking a warm cup of tea is one way to help make yourself feel calmer.

Here are some tea recipes to try:

  • Chamomile Tea and Vanilla Almond Milk Soother
    • Place 4 chamomile tea bags in a quart mason jar, filled halfway with boiling water. Let them brew for a few minutes and remove them.
    • Add cold water to fill the mason jar and store it in the fridge.
    • When you are ready, fill a mug ⅔ of the way with the chamomile tea and ⅓ with vanilla almond milk. Delish!
  • Fruity Green Tea Spritzer

7. Whole Grains

Whole Grains

Whole grains like brown rice, whole-grain pasta, quinoa, barley, and oats are fantastic sources of fiber. This fiber helps keep our gut healthy, which is important because stress relief starts in the gut. These fiber-rich grains provide food for the healthy bacteria in your gut, keeping them happy and fed. This, in turn, helps keep you calm and can improve your mood.

To add more fiber to your diet, try eating beans, green peas, berries, almonds, pistachios, flaxseed, sesame seeds, and lots of greens like kale and broccoli. Whole grains are also fiber champs. Often, whole grain–based foods will have a symbol or wording on the package saying so, but look for “whole grain” or “whole wheat” listed in the first ingredient to be sure.

Because fiber can also support a healthy gut microbiome, reach for high-fiber foods, including whole rye, buckwheat, and brown rice.

And who doesn’t think a bowl of pasta isn’t just the ultimate comfort food? It always puts me in a better mood! Give whole wheat pasta a try. Add a leafy green salad on the side to boost those healthy bacteria and watch your stress level take a nosedive.

Favorite whole grain recipes:

  • Quinoa with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Chickpeas
  • Cinnamon Spice Oatmeal
  • Ancient Grains Bowl

8. Fermented Foods

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir, are well-known for their gut health benefits. But did you know they can also help reduce stress? The gut and brain are closely linked, and eating foods that support a healthy gut bacteria community may improve your mental well-being. Fermented foods promote good digestion and gut health and may offer benefits like better immunity and reduced chronic inflammation.

Some popular fermented foods include:

  • Yogurt
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kombucha
  • Miso
  • Tempeh

Probiotics from these foods support the bacteria in your GI tract. A stronger microbiome can lead to a better mood, a greater sense of calm, and less anxiety. Studies show that fermented foods may influence stress hormones and help reduce stress perception. In a 2023 study, participants who followed a psychobiotic diet, which included two to three servings of fermented foods per day, experienced lower stress levels after four weeks.

Including fermented foods in your diet is a simple and tasty way to support both your gut and mental health.

9. Berries


Berries are not only delicious but also packed with nutrients that can help reduce stressBlueberries, for instance, are rich in flavonoid antioxidants, which have strong anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. These properties can help lower stress-related inflammation and protect against cellular damage caused by stress.

Moreover, eating flavonoid-rich foods like blueberries may help safeguard against depression and boost your mood. A 2022 study found that people who ate the most fruits, including berries, had significantly lower odds of experiencing worries, tension, and lack of joy compared to those who ate the least.

Including a variety of berries in your diet can also lead to higher levels of optimism and reduced psychological distress. So, next time you’re feeling stressed, consider reaching for a handful of berries to help improve your mood and overall well-being.

10. Oatmeal


Oatmeal is a long-time comfort food and a complex carbohydrate that helps keep your blood sugar steady. This can reduce the level of stress hormones in your brain. Oatmeal helps to relieve stress by releasing serotonin, a chemical that increases relaxation, calmness, and creativity.

Pro Tip

Skip the refined sugar. Instead, make oatmeal with apples and raisins for a touch of sweetness and extra vitamin C.

Health Benefits

  • Keeps blood sugar steady
  • Reduces stress hormones
  • Releases serotonin for relaxation

Whole Grains

Whole grains, including oats, are good sources of fiber that help keep our gut healthy. These fiber-rich grains provide food for the healthy bacteria in your gut, helping to keep you calm and improve your mood.

Keeping your gut happy and fed helps keep you calm and can improve your mood.


Incorporating stress-reducing foods into your daily diet can be a simple and tasty way to help manage stress. From the crunch of nuts to the soothing warmth of tea, these foods offer a variety of flavors and textures that can make your meals more enjoyable while also supporting your mental well-being. Remember, it’s not just about eating these foods occasionally, but making them a regular part of your diet. Along with other stress management techniques, like exercise and mindfulness, these foods can play a significant role in helping you feel more relaxed and balanced. So, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, reach for one of these stress-busting foods and give yourself a natural boost.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does dark chocolate help reduce stress?

Dark chocolate has compounds that can boost mood and reduce stress hormones. Eating a small amount can make you feel better.

Are nuts good for stress relief?

Yes, nuts are rich in healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals that help your body handle stress better.

Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which can lower stress hormones and improve your mood.

How do leafy greens help with stress?

Leafy greens have lots of vitamins and minerals that support brain health and help you feel calmer.

Is seafood effective in reducing stress?

Yes, seafood is packed with omega-3 fatty acids that can improve brain function and reduce stress.

What types of tea are best for stress relief?

Herbal teas like chamomile and green tea are great for reducing stress and helping you relax.

How do whole grains help in managing stress?

Whole grains provide a steady release of energy and can help keep your blood sugar levels stable, which is good for managing stress.

Why are fermented foods good for stress relief?

Fermented foods have probiotics that support gut health, which is closely linked to your mood and stress levels.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top