10 Best Foods to Help Fight Stress

Dr. Rohini Somnath Patil
4 min readMar 9, 2021

Next time your stress levels start soaring, fill your plate with these foods that are scientifically proven to help you feel less frazzled.

Unhealthy eating patterns can send stress levels skyrocketing and potentially increase your risk of health problems in the future if you don’t address them. According to a recent nutrition research, a well-balanced and nutritious diet was likely the single most important ingredient for good health.

So the next time you’re under pressure, arm yourself with this delicious arsenal of 10 stress-busting pantry staples:

1. Herbal Tea Helps Promote Feelings of Warmth and Calmness

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’s a soothing effect of sipping a warm drink, regardless of the flavour, but certain herbs like lavender and chamomile have been shown to have a relaxing effect on their own.

2. Dark Chocolate Offers an Antioxidant-Rich Indulgence

Dark chocolate in the diet can reduce stress in two ways: via its chemical impact and its emotional impact. Chocolate feels like such an indulgence that it can be a real treat to simply savour a piece of it, and that feeling alone can help to reduce stress.

Dark chocolate, which is rich in antioxidants, may also help reduce stress by lowering levels of stress hormones in the body.

3. Whole Grains Provide a Mood-Boosting Way to Carbo-Load

According to research, carbohydrates can temporarily increase levels of serotonin, a hormone that boosts mood and reduces stress. Once serotonin levels are increased, people under stress have better concentration and focus.

Just make sure to choose healthy, unrefined carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and whole grains for better nutrition, and limit simple carbs such as cookies, cake, and “white” foods, including white pasta and white bread. Unrefined carbs cause a quick spike and crash of blood sugar, while complex carbs contain vitamins and minerals as well as fiber, and so take longer to digest and have less of an immediate impact on blood sugar.

4. Avocados Offer Stress-Busting Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Avocados are not only delicious mashed into guacamole or sliced and added to a salad, they also offer omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy essential acids are known to reduce stress and anxiety, boost concentration, and improve mood.

The possible superpower of avocados goes beyond their omega-3 fatty acids. They also consist of phytochemicals, fiber, and essential nutrients.

5. Fish Can Boost Your Heart Health While Fending Off Stress

Fight stress and help prevent heart disease by adding seafood to your plate. Fatty fish in particular are a great option because they’re heart-healthy, and their omega-3s may help ease depression because the nutrients easily interact with mood-related brain molecules

Not a fish fan? There are other whole-food options, like seaweed, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, and fortified food, such as certain brands of eggs, milk, soy milk, and nut milk.

6. Warm Milk Can Help You Get a Good Night’s Sleep, Aiding Stress Management

Sipping warm milk before bed is a centuries-old home remedy for getting a better night’s sleep. The main stress reducer here is calcium. If milk isn’t your thing, other dairy sources like yogurt and cheese are excellent sources of calcium.

If you’re lactose intolerant, almonds, sunflower seeds, and green leafy veggies, like kale and broccoli are also sources of calcium.

7. Nuts Are a Great Stress-Busting Snack and They’re High in Healthy Fat

Nuts are full of nutrients including B vitamins, along with 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.

8. Citrus Fruits and Strawberries Contain Vitamin C, Which Help Fight Stress

Vitamin C reduces stress levels, and also points to possible anxiety prevention. Eating fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and strawberries is a good place to start.

9. Probiotics Can Create a Healthy Gut Microbiota, Helping You Manage Stress

The best way to support healthy gut hormones is with good-for-you bacteria called probiotics. Probiotics can help boost the immune system, protect against harmful bacteria, and improve digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Gut health has a direct correlation to improving anxiety, depression, and mood. One way is that gut bacteria can produce molecules with neuroactive functions, including serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which positively influence mood.

10. Foods High in Fiber May Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Fiber-rich foods are gut-friendly and can play a role in lowering stress.To add more fiber to your diet, eat 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.

We hear it all the time: ‘eat foods that are rich in fiber,’ and it’s because they balance your blood sugar and prevent spikes in your insulin levels.

There is indeed an essential link in the relationship between what you eat and drink, and how you feel. The good news is that there are plenty of simple lifestyle changes that you can make to help manage your stress levels. Give these stress-busting foods a try, and see the difference for yourself!

Always remember “It’s never just a Diet, it’s always a Lifestyle”.

So Stay Healthy, Stay Fit, Stay Grateful, Stay Blessed ❤️

  • *Copyrighted material of Dr. Rohini Somnath Patil

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Dr. Rohini Somnath Patil

Dr. Rohini is a Doctor, Nutritionist, Author, Entrepreneur, Columnist