Foods That Relieve Stress


Stress is a part of life. We all experience it. In our high-octane, achievement-driven, ultra-connected, and mobile society, everyone is prone to becoming over-stressed. Our individual capacities for handling stress are unique, but what we all share is a need for balance. Some amount of stress is healthy for our nervous systems, as it is for muscles and bones and the other tissues of our bodies. With too little stress, our bodies will weaken. With too much, they will deteriorate.

When your body is overstressed, whether physically or emotionally, it stops functioning at its fullest. From this viewpoint, it might be said that the key to maintaining health and balance in our bodies is adequately balancing and processing stress. Knowing just how to do that for your system can be challenging, and often requires trial and error testing to best cope with your body’s response. There are as many causes and responses to stress as there are methods to deal with them. One of the simplest and most effective ways to help alleviate stress load is through your diet. The types of food you eat have a huge impact on your physical, mental, and emotional health.


Relieving Stress

As a rule, I recommend avoiding gluten as much as possible for many health reasons.  Amaranth, buckwheat, rice (brown, white, wild), millet, and quinoa are good gluten-free, stress relieving choices. These, along with nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables are foods that provide you with the right vitamins and minerals you need to help battle stress. B vitamins, along with C, minerals like zinc, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron are the most critical.


Rich in vitamins B6, folate and C, along with potassium, and iron, avocados calm and strengthen the nervous system, making them excellent during times of stress. Avocados also support hormonal balance, which will in turn support the nervous system when the body’s hormones are in balance. High levels of folate mean avocados can also help fight depression. An avocado added to a salad, sandwich, smoothie, or eaten plain provides a quick salve to a distressed state. Full of healthy fats and oils, avocados are deeply satisfying for the mind and body, thus helping the body no longer crave foods that might only enhance the stress response system, like fried pr sugary foods.

Lettuce and Leafy Greens

The cooling effect of lettuce can help slow you down when you are caught up in the storm of your own stress and emotions. Even the simplest of lettuces, packed full of vitamins and minerals, will provide your system with much needed support and cleansing of the toxins that can bog it down. As a rule, the darker the color of lettuce, the more nutrients it contains.

Greens to try include watercress, an excellent tonic and blood cleanser rich in vitamins A, C, and E, calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc, also regarded for its anti-cancer properties. Swiss chard contains many  stress-fighting vitamins and minerals including magnesium, which helps to balance the hormone cortisol,  present in abnormal and highly fluctuating amounts in chronic stress conditions.

Fatty Fishes

Like avocado, the healthy fats in fishes like salmon, sardines and tuna help to manage adrenaline levels, which in turn reduces heightened stress conditions. I recommend wild-caught salmon from Vital Choice.



Calming a Restless Mind

If your stress sources from stress, anxiety, and worry, certain foods are going to better help combat these sources.


The high-starch content and nutritive qualities of bananas make them an excellent grounding ingredient to assuage nervous energy. The mild, soothing flavor and texture of banana, can reduce stress and restlessness caused by overwork. Bananas are high in antioxidants and vitamin B6, as well as tryptophan; all of which make them excellent nervous system strengtheners. On top of all that, bananas can help strengthen your bones, aid in weight loss, and potentially reduce the risk of kidney cancer. Easy to eat on the go, blend in a smoothie, and mash into a baked good, bananas may be your most versatile edible stress buster.


The strengthening and stabilizing force of almonds help improve memory and concentration. Rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, vitamins B2 and E, almonds help strengthen the immune system and ground the nervous system, while also offering healthy proteins and fibers to energize and fortify your body. This powerful combo makes almonds ideal for active or sporty people, and also increases stamina for those feeling tired or run down.


Cooling and grounding, sweet and nourishing, dates offer a quick and gentle energy boost. Like bananas, dates contain a significant quantity of potassium, which soothes the nervous system. Because dates are so good for your digestive system, they also help you get more out of the foods that you are eating to support your whole body systems. Dates have a high mineral content, which means they help lessen the effects of anemia on the body, supporting greater energy, stamina, and muscle growth.

Soothing Herbs

Calming herbal teas containing chamomile, lime flower, mint, lemon balm, catnip and passionflower help relieve tense muscles and slow down an overactive mind. Herbal teas and tinctures can be an excellent antidote to stress; while supporting your system’s ability to switch gears into activities that will further strengthen your nervous system, such as meditation, yoga, peaceful walks, or sleep. They can also help your concentration at work by clearing your mind – a positive cycle to help reduce stress as you are more efficient in your daily activities.

Calming Oats

Oats keep you grounded, calming the body and mind by producing serotonin. With their sweetness, rich protein and mineral content, oats can be the perfect rejuvenating tonic. They have historically been given to help build healthy bones and teeth in children, restore the chronically ill to good health and vigor, and prescribed for insomnia, loss of appetite, and debility, all potential symptoms of high stress lifestyles! They have a regulatory effect on hormones in the body. Please keep in mind that oats are often milled in facilities which also mill wheat, so there can be trace amounts of gluten in oats products. This is important to keep in mind for those with celiac disease, where even trace amounts of gluten are a problem.


Healing Emotions

If you are recovering from grief or trauma, your approach to stress relief should most likely reflect these emotional needs through your diet. Foods and herbs that enhance your emotional resilience can be incorporated into your daily meals.  


Not just for vases, roses have a wonderfully uplifting and restorative effect, making them ideal when you are feeling tense, anxious, depressed, angry, lonely or upset. Rose syrup can be found on Amazon, and when combined with coconut milk or a milk of your choice, offers a simple emotional salve. You can also find teas and tinctures containing roses.

All-In-One Supplement

No doubt, it can be a challenge for most of us to eat enough of the healthiest foods each day. To ensure proper vitamin and mineral balance, I recommend a high-grade, professional supplement along with a healthy diet. For many years, I have used Diamond Nutritionals’ Foundation Vitamins with my patients with good success. They are available with and without iron, and are free of additives often found in many supplements on store shelves.

Photo credits:

  1. HealthAliciousNess / CC BY 2.0
  2. Juan-Calderon / CC BY-ND 2.0


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