It can be financial, emotional, physical, or even external: Stress affects us all, and it can have a major impact on our overall health. We can manage it using a variety of techniques, but a key component of alleviating and even preventing stress on our bodies is—you guessed it—what we put into them.
It's amazing how food can lift us up and break us down. That's an extraordinary power. But as humans, we also have the power to fuel our bodies with foods that will sustain us and keep us as healthy—and happy—as possible.
So what should you eat to stave off stress—or at least reduce it to manageable levels?
Add these foods to your diet
Several whole foods contain naturally stress-relieving qualities. A more comprehensive list is available here, but below are 10 of the more commonly available foods that can boost your mood when eaten regularly.
Foods to help manage stress #1:
Eggs: They're packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids that are all necessary for a healthy stress response. They're also high in choline, which can play a significant role in brain health.
Foods to help manage stress #2:
Matcha powder: This powder—made from green tea leaves grown in shady spots—has L-theanine, an amino acid with known stress-relieving components.
Foods to help manage stress #3:
Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes can reduce cortisol levels in the body. They're also high in vitamin C and potassium, which are essential for stress response.
Foods to help manage stress #4:
Shellfish/fatty fish: Shellfish are high in taurine, vitamin B12, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium, all of which have been shown to have mood-boosting properties. Fatty fish are high in vitamin D and omega-3 fats, which have also been shown to improve mood.
Foods to help manage stress #5:
Broccoli: Broccoli has tons of vitamins and minerals that help combat anxiety and improve mood, including high levels of magnesium, vitamin C, folate, sulforaphane, and vitamin B6.
Foods to help manage stress #6:
Blueberries: Loaded with flavonoid antioxidants that have neuroprotective properties, blueberries can help reduce inflammation and protect against cellular damage.
Foods to help manage stress #7:
Chickpeas: These little legumes are filled with magnesium, B vitamins, selenium, copper, manganese, and potassium—all stress-fighting vitamins and minerals. They're also high in L-tryptophan, which aids in the production of neurotransmitters that help regulate mood.
Foods to help manage stress #8:
Garlic: The sulfur compounds in garlic help increase glutathione levels, which in turn can reduce stress levels.
Foods to help manage stress #9:
Sunflower seeds: Also great for managing hormones, these seeds are high in vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, B vitamins, and selenium.
Foods to help manage stress #10:
Kimchi: Fermented foods like kimchi are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and probiotics, which can help reduce anxiety and stress.
So what foods should you avoid? The list won't surprise you. If you're anxious or stressed, do your best to steer clear of added sugars and refined carbs, caffeine, and alcohol.
For an additional potential mood boost, consider adding these vitamins and supplements to your daily routine so you can live with less stress—naturally!