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Feeling stressed out? Food is sometimes the best medicine and we’ve found the top 10 calming foods for stress relief known for calming down the mind and body, leaving you relaxed and able to tackle the day. Eat these on their own or add them to your favorite recipes, most of them play well with other ingredients. Be sure to incorporate exercise and proper sleep for even more stress relief.
We’ll start with the yummiest stress relieving food, dark chocolate. Known for its bold taste, dark chocolate has been touted as the newest superfood. Research has shown that eating 1.4 ounces per day can improve stress levels. It can also improve heart health since cocoa is rich in flavanols.
Only 70% or darker delivers any health benefits. That means milk chocolate and white chocolate, as tasty as they are, probably won’t help much with stress relief.
Science is finding that the gut and brain are more connected than previously thought. As such, good gut health should mean good mental health. Though the research is still pending and more work needs to be done, probiotics have been shown to reduce cortisol and stress levels as well as reducing stomach pains and cramping.
Yogurt is rampant with probiotics as long as it has live and active cultures (be sure to check the label before buying). Choose your favorite flavor and your gut will thank you.
Frozen berries, berry smoothies, berry pies, berry jams…the recipes are endless. We’re specifically looking at strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries as the best calming foods. Not because they’re the tastiest, but because they are chemically similar to valproic acid (a mood stabilizing drug), but they are also packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that promote overall health and reduce your stress levels.
That’s right, the health benefits of avocados keep stacking up! Now it’s been shown that avocados are great at relieving stress, plus the healthy fats may even reduce anxiety levels. Much like bananas (which are also great), avocados have high levels of potassium to reduce stress. They also have significant levels of vitamin B that further reduce your stress.
Science has shown that people suffering from high levels of stress or anxiety tend to have a folate deficiency. Asparagus has a ton of folate with a half cup serving containing 34% of your recommended daily intake. This mood-boosting food might be exactly what you need to reduce your stress levels.
You knew this was coming. Yes, this age-old food really does reduce stress. Almost every type of tea has this effect (green, white, herbal, black, and so on) because they reduce cortisol, promote good sleep, make you more able to combat stressful situations, and so on. Studies show that decaffeinated green tea tends to be the best, but any cup will help ease and relax you.
Most people crave chips and candy when they’re stressed. Why is that? It’s because carbs naturally boost serotonin, but they destabilize blood sugar levels and increase your waistline. Oatmeal is one of the best calming foods because it boosts serotonin because it’s a carb, but it’s a complex carb. This means it’s high in fiber and digests slowly for stable blood sugar levels. Plus, it’s warm, comforting, and comes in tons of tasty flavors (I’m personally an apple-cinnamon fan, what about you?)
Plenty of fish and seafood are packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Much like tea, this has been touted as having numerous health benefits and stress relief is one of them. They help regulate adrenaline levels in the body. You’ll find tons of omega-3 fats in salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring.
Looking for a vegan/vegetarian option? One serving of chia seeds has more omega-3 fats than a half-fillet of salmon. Flax seeds are good, too.
Squash and Pumpkin Seeds
The body can produce many minerals, but several essential minerals simply can’t be produced by the human body. Magnesium is one of them. The rise in processed food has led to lower consumption of magnesium, which is a shame because this mineral reduces excitability in the brain. This allows us to have a more manageable stress response when life gives us lemons.
Plenty of natural foods have magnesium, but squash seeds and pumpkin seeds are the best. Just one serving provides over 40% of your daily recommended magnesium levels. Want even tastier seeds? Roast them. It adds an extra layer of flavor without reducing the magnesium amount.
When life gives you lemons…hungrily gobble them down and absorb their stress-fighting benefits! Foods with high levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants are wonderful against stress and anxiety. Studies show that vitamin C is far better than any placebo and they have a range of other benefits, making this one of the best calming foods.
While citrus is best, any food with high vitamin C levels will do. There’s cantaloupe, kiwi, broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, and more!