Healthy Foods to Reduce Stress

As we move closer to the autumn months and the long days in the sun fades, stress is on everybody’s mind. Hours spend in school and work loom and it is certain to bring stress back into your life. You may dread the stress that is to come, but our bodies actually experience stress every day, regardless if we feel stressed.

How well do you understand stress?

I’m stressed out. The thought goes through your mind automatically as soon as you feel any type of adversity. Physical and mental stress are sometimes easy to perceive – a long run or a difficult exam are perceived as stressful – but stress also affects our bodies in small, forgettable moments. Stress is the body’s response to a real or perceived threat, usually materializing in problems we encounter.

Stress can be motivating or overwhelming and it can have physical implications on our body like sweating, tense muscles or a racing heart. It is important to note that stress is a reaction to a situation, many of which are unavoidable, and it is important to learn to deal and reduce stress on your body, as it can have negative side effects.

Stress-reducing foods

Look no further than your dinner table to help deal with the stressful moments from the day. This doesn’t mean you should stress eat! Valentina Rodriguez, nutritionist at, suggests these seven foods to help handle stress.


High amounts of stress on your body can damage nerve transmission through increased wear and tear. Folate, which is found in high amounts in asparagus, helps improve memory in stressed individuals. These green spears can make you sharper in stressful situations!


This nut is rich in the essential mineral, zinc, which can help with dealing with anxiety. In a study by Nutrition and Metabolic Insights, zinc supplements resulted in a significant reduction of anxiety. If pills or tablets aren’t your thing, you will be glad to know that one ounce of cashews accounts for 11% of the daily recommended value for zinc.

Pumpkin Seeds

This October favourite should really be consumed throughout the year for its stress-reducing capabilities. Pumpkin seeds, as well as flaxseeds and sunflower seeds, are great sources for magnesium, which is known to help regulate emotion – a major factor in stress management. Magnesium may also help alleviate depression and fatigue.

Fortified Milk

Milk fortified with Vitamin D, which are most store-bought milks, can help with stress. A study by London’s UCL Institute of Child Health found a link between low levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of panic and depression. People who had higher levels of vitamin D also had a reduced risk of panic disorders.

70% Dark Chocolate (or higher)

Most people have heard that dark chocolate is actually good for your health. A hint of bitter in your chocolate can help reduce stress hormones like cortisol. In addition, the antioxidants in dark chocolates can help relax your blood vessels and lower blood pressure, which counters some of the hypertensive side effects of stress.

Turkey Breast

Have you felt sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner? You can thank tryptophan in your turkey for the relaxed and drowsy feelings after the meal. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps produce serotonin, which is the chemical that gives you a satiated and happy feeling. The amino acid also has a calming effect that can help with stress.

Non-pasteurized Yogurt

One of the small, forgettable moments that cause stress is indigestion. An upset gastrointestinal tract puts your body in all kinds of stress, so it is important to eat foods that help your gut. Choose non-pasteurized yogurt for probiotics that help boost your digestive system, as the pasteurization process kills many of the beneficial bacteria.