Every day we are learning about ways how the food that we eat affects us! But interestingly, many experts focus on the effects on physical health! How about mental health, however?  If you are wondering whether there are any foods to reduce stress, this is the place for you!

There are more than seven billion very different people in the world. We are living in different countries, speaking different languages,  listening to different music, enjoying different things, etc. The fact is that despite belonging to the same species there are humongous differences between us. Nevertheless, there are plenty of similarities, and one of them is a very special relationship with food. Whether we are living in NYC or Kolkata, India, we regard food as much more than a source of energy and nutrition. Eating delicious food makes us happy, right? Besides, we associate it with a good time with loved ones and friends. We also link it with relaxation, holidays, and many other things.  And whereas all other living beings eat because they need to, we eat also because we love to. 

Customs, trends, as well as knowledge, regarding food, have been continually changing over time.  That said, as we in recent years have much more information about the impact of food on our health, logically many of us attempt to eat as healthily as possible.  Technology-enabled us to have access to all kinds of information from all around the world. Hence, getting the appropriate info about what is and what is not healthy is simpler than it has ever been. But, while searching for texts about the relationship between diet and, have you noticed that people mainly discuss physical health ?! But what about mental health! 

We are living in a world where we are continually exposed to elevated levels of stress!  It is like that in general, but we feel now, even more than ever before because of the pandemic.  So, naturally, we are also always looking for ways to relieve stress and anxiety.  Sport and physical activity can be helpful! Yoga,  Tai Chi, and Qi Gong even more! But what about food?  Are there any foods that reduce stress and anxiety?

We were curious to find out more about it, as we are with other topics related to alternative ways of healing.  We discussed it with experts who are researching and writing articles about this and other similar topics related to nutrition, such as best protein cookies. Let’s see what we found out!

Foods to reduce stress

What Causes Stress 

As we mentioned, many of us are continually exposed to stressful situations. For example, there can be a deadline at work. Maybe your parents suddenly decided to visit you. Your kids didn’t even start the project, and the due date is tomorrow.  Anything can cause stress.  Indeed some of it can be good, and it can inspire to make positive life changes.  However,  prolonged stress has negative health consequences.  Stress causes your body to be in a constant flight or fight state.  That promotes various physiological reactions, including the increased production of cortisol.

 In the long run, this can lead to weight gain, increased inflammation, and elevated blood sugar. Chronic stress can also cause a condition called adrenal fatigue.

How Food Affects Stress

Now when thinking about things that cause stress, we have environmental factors more in mind, right! It’s work, school, family, money, etc.  However, we often forget that whereas food on its own will not cause stress, there are plenty of ways how it can elevate it. Of course, it is necessary to say that there are also foods that reduce stress. What does food have to do with stress? As you know, plenty of people tend to eat when they are stressed.  Sometimes it can happen that we are eating more than we usually do! But more importantly, we are making a lot of unhealthy choices in an attempt to cope with stress.  But I find ice cream pretty helpful when I am stressed or anxious, some of you will say! Indeed, we all find comfort in ice cream. It is a source of energy as is packed with carbs, fats, and protein. That is also the reason why it makes us feel better. However, when the effects of sugar wear off, we feel even more stressed than before eating it. So okay, ice cream, alcohol, etc., increase stress! What are the foods to reduce stress? We are here today to find that out! 

Six Foods to Reduce Stress


Talking about meat, it is essential to point out that turkey is one of the best things to reduce stress. Turkey is generally one of the healthiest poultry meat you can find.  But the thing is that it is especially useful to eat when you are looking for ways to reduce stress. It is packed with tryptophan. It is an amino acid that promotes the production of serotonin in our bodies.  Maybe you already know it, but serotonin is directly linked with hunger regulation and feeling of happiness and well-being. The studies show that tryptophan has a calming effect on its own as well.  It exists in other foods, of course, such as nuts, fish, lentils, etc. However, turkey comes with high amounts of it. The cool thing about turkey meat is that you can eat it in as many ways as you like. You can eat turkey ham, roasted or grilled turkey, etc. 


Yogurt (Photo by Karolina Grabowska)

You know how some foods manage to conquer the hearts of people regardless of the location. Well, yogurt is one of those foods. You can eat or drink yogurt! Either way, it tastes splendid! Besides that, as surprising as it sounds, your stomach and your mood are remarkably connected. Hence, gut bacteria can contribute to stress. Also, stress can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms. The studies show that the probiotics in yogurt reduced brain activity, which regulates emotions, and that means stress as well, doesn’t it? Thus, drinking yogurt is one of the excellent natural ways to reduce stress. Plus, it is rich in calcium and protein, so it is super healthy.


Can you say that you know someone who doesn’t like pistachios? No?! Neither can we tell you the truth, and, of course, there are plenty of ways for it. They are perfectly salty and delicious. They are healthy! But there is more. They are one of the foods to reduce stress.  What do you find helpful when you are anxious or stressed? For example, we feel that doing something manual that is also repetitive truly helps! See, when it comes to pistachios, you are not just eating, do you, now?! Shelling pistachios or peanuts, for that matter, is one of the super cool activities to reduce stress. One thing is that rhythmic movements are relaxing. Additionally, pistachios are remarkably heart-friendly nuts. Believe it or not, eating pistachios can lower the levels of stress by decreasing blood pressure and slowing down the heart rate. Pistachios come with antioxidants that have heart-protective properties.


You certainly need the vitamin to reduce stress! And what better fruit than an orange for that! The dominant compound of oranges is vitamin C. When we hear about it, the first thing we think is, “Oh, what! Isn’t it for the immune system?”! Yes, yes, it certainly is. However, vitamin C is effective in lowering the stress hormone (cortisol) levels. Whereas, as we mentioned earlier, cortisol can be and is useful sometimes. However, if the level stays high for a prolonged time, it can easily wreak havoc on the body. Some of the symptoms are fatigue, mental fog, increased appetite, and weight gain. Hence regular consumption of oranges can be helpful when you are figuring out how to reduce stress and sleep better.


If you enjoy Chinese or Japanese food, then you are in luck whether it comes as a salad or wrapped around a sushi roll, the fact is the seaweed is one of the excellent choices when it comes to food to reduce stress. As one of the few natural sources, seaweed is packed with iodine. People with low levels of iodine in their blood are prone to fatigue and depression.  The good news is that even a little amount of seaweed brings a high percentage of this essential mineral. 


Finally, we must not forget the herbs to reduce stress! Whereas you can find plenty of herbs out there, one of the best for stress relief is turmeric. This plant is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Here we are especially talking about one compound – curcumin.  It is known to stimulate the production of dopamine and serotonin, which are both known as feel-good hormones. So if you keep adding turmeric to your food, chances are it will improve your mood.

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Final Word 

That is all about foods to reduce stress, for today, folks! It is impossible to deny that the food we are eating daily affects all aspects of our health.  Most of us know that it makes an impact on our physical health! However, we now know, thanks to various research that it also greatly affects mental health. As you could see, there are plenty of foods that can alleviate stress. Do you know about any other food that has this kind of effect on us? 

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