14 Foods for Stress Reduction

by | Feb 26, 2021 | Last updated Feb 15, 2022

There are far too many people who go through their days dealing with stress. If you’re feeling stressed, it’s only natural that you’re looking for a way to put your mind at ease. Even though feeling stressed on an occasional basis in a normal part of life, chronic stress can lead to serious health problems. This includes emotional, physical, and mental health issues. The good news is that there are foods for stress reduction that you can try. In addition to exploring other options, it’s critical to take a closer look at your diet and see any changes you can make to help reduce your stress. If you’re wondering which foods reduce stress, there are a few front-runners that you should keep in mind. 

Reach for Some Sweet Potatoes 

One of the first foods for stress reduction is sweet potatoes. Often called yams, though the two foods are different, these are delicious and can be baked, grilled, or fried (even though fried is less healthy). 

Sweet potatoes will help you control your stress because they can reduce a key hormone called cortisol. Cortisol plays a significant role in the stress response of your body. Even though your body does a great job of regulating its cortisol levels, chronically high cortisol levels can result from stress. This stress can lead to several medical problems, including discomfort, inflammation, and other issues. 

A study over eight weeks took a look at individuals who were struggling with weight issues. The study found that individuals who ate a diet that contained whole, nutrient-dense carbs (such as those found in sweet potatoes) had significantly lower cortisol levels than those who did not. 

Therefore, sweet potatoes may be able to help you control your cortisol levels as well as your stress levels. They are a whole food that contains a wide variety of complex carbohydrates. Also, sweet potatoes contain vitamin C and potassium. 

If you’re wondering what to do with your sweet potatoes, consider baking them and topping them with a little bit of cinnamon or a slight amount of brown sugar. Or, you can even chop them up and throw them on the grill. 

Finally, if you’re in the mood for a little bit of the Thanksgiving dish, why not give sweet potato casserole a try? There are a lot of possibilities to explore when it comes to sweet potatoes. If you’re wondering which foods reduce stress, sweet potatoes should be on the list.  

Sweet potatoes can also be a great addition to a weight-loss program like Noom. Our program uses psychology-backed tactics and tools like personalized meals and health coaching to help users make lasting changes to their weight and health.

Crack Open a Few Clams & Mussels

Another one of the top foods for stress reduction is shellfish. A few of the most common examples of shellfish include oysters, mussels, and clams. These shellfish are incredibly high in a wide variety of amino acids, which are the building blocks of the proteins found throughout your body. 

Specifically, shellfish are high in an amino acid called taurine, which has been shown to help you improve your mood. Taurine is the foundation of neurotransmitters, which play a role in how your body transmits information throughout its various tissues and organ systems. Adequate levels of taurine can help lift your mood, possibly helping you deal with stress.

In addition to containing taurine, shellfish also have a lot of manganese, B12, copper, selenium, and zinc. All of these substances can help you improve your mood. One study took a look at more than 2,000 adults who had chronically low intakes of manganese, copper, and zinc, all of which are found in shellfish. Individuals who had low levels of these substances suffered from a wide variety of mood issues. By eating shellfish, you’re able to improve your levels of these critical cofactors, helping you improve your mood and reduce your stress levels. 

Mussels, clams, and oysters have a wide variety of menu possibilities. Even though some people like to go to raw oyster bars and try raw oysters from various parts of the world, this may not necessarily be for everyone. If you’re looking for an alternative, you can always toss mussels and clams in a pasta with a little bit of olive oil, garlic, and vegetables! There are plenty of ways you can enjoy shellfish as a part of your meals! For those wondering which foods reduce stress, the wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids can help you control your stress levels.

Tahini Adds a Little Bit of a Kick

Tahini is a popular spice to help you control your stress levels as well. As one of the top foods for stress reduction, tahini is made from sesame seeds. Sesame seeds contain significant levels of a specific amino acid called tryptophan. Even though most people associate tryptophan with turkey, which was once thought to make you tired, tryptophan is also found in other foods.

Tryptophan is the foundation of a wide variety of neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin and dopamine. Both of these neurotransmitters play a critical role in your overall mood. If you’re able to consume adequate tryptophan levels, this can help you improve your levels of these neurotransmitters, which may help you improve your mood and control other mental health issues. 

Even though eating large amounts of turkey may get boring after a while, this is not the case with tahini, which can be added to a wide variety of meals. Healthcare professionals have studied the relationship between tahini and tryptophan. For example, one study took a closer look at a few dozen adults. They found that individuals who consumed a diet high in tryptophan demonstrated improved mental health. This includes stress control. If you’re looking for a way to improve your mood and reduce your stress levels, then tahini could be helpful. 

If you’re going to be consuming tahini for the first time, it has a similar taste to its primary ingredient, sesame seeds. It has a savory, nutty flavor profile to add a little bit of spice to your food. Tahini is made by taking sesame seeds and grinding them up into a smooth paste. In some situations, sesame seeds might even be roasted before they are turned into tahini. 

The paste can be used to make dressings; however, tahini can also be thrown into a few snack bites, stuffed into some dates, and added to a wide variety of other dishes. For example, you can drizzle it onto your falafel, stir it into some soup, or even use it to make baba ganoush! If you’re wondering which foods reduce stress, tahini should undoubtedly be on the list!

Green Tea from Matcha Powder

Anyone who’s been thinking about drinking tea as a way to reduce their stress can explore matcha powder, which is often used to make green tea. As one of the top foods for stress reduction, matcha powder has a vibrant, green color. This is an excellent option for stress control because it contains high levels of a specific amino acid called theanine. 

Theanine is known to have stress-relieving properties. Even though there are plenty of other green tea types that also exhibit stress-reducing properties, matcha is at the top of the list because the green tea leaves used to make the powder are grown in the shade. This increases its content of certain active substances, like theanine.

Numerous medical studies have taken place exploring matcha powder. They have consistently shown that if the theanine content is high enough and the caffeine content is low enough, matcha can directly help reduce stress levels. One study looked at people who were followed closely for a few weeks. These individuals ate cookies containing a few grams of matcha powder daily. Then, their stress levels were measured directly by following salivary markers. They found that individuals who consumed the matcha cookies experienced lower salivary markers of stress than the individuals who did not eat the cookies. 

The good news is that matcha powder has a wide variety of possibilities. Even though the powder can be mixed into cookies, people can also make delicious green tea. Therefore, if you’re wondering which foods reduce stress, matcha powder is one to add to the list. Consider using matcha powder to make green tea, smoothies, cookies, and other delicious items! Matcha powder has the potential to help you control stress. 

As you can see, there are plenty of different food habits that can influence your health, which is why it’s a good idea to keep track of your food intake and track your health. Here at Noom, we help you make healthy choices.

Explore the Possibilities of Korean Kimchi

When people think about Korean food, kimchi often comes to mind. Kimchi has a wide variety of flavors depending on how it’s fermented and how it’s cooked. People like kimchi because it can be incredibly spicy. Even though capsaicin comes with its health benefits, kimchi can also help you reduce stress. This is a fermented vegetable dish that usually contains daikon, which is a type of radish, and Napa cabbage. Fermented foods such as kimchi contain numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They also have bacteria, which can act as probiotics, improving the health of your digestive system. But why is kimchi one of the top foods for stress reduction?

Medical research has studied fermented foods. This research has shown that fermented foods can help reduce signs of emotional stress. One study took a closer look at more than 700 individuals. These individuals ate fermented foods, such as kimchi. Those who ate fermented foods regularly experienced fewer symptoms of emotional and mental stress

Other studies also showed foods that contain probiotics, such as kimchi, can have a beneficial effect on your mental health. These probiotics interact with healthy gut flora, which can help improve your mood

If you’re willing to branch outside of your comfort zone, then why not give kimchi a try? This food can help you reduce stress, and it’s one of the most versatile options available. For example, you can eat kimchi straight; however, you can also add it to a wide variety of other dishes. For example, you can bake kimchi into fritters or pancakes. You can also add it directly to a rice stir-fry dish. A lot of people like to combine kimchi with their eggs or even turn it into a pasta sauce. There are plenty of options for kimchi. As a result, if you’re wondering which foods reduce stress, this old Korean staple certainly has a spot on this list!

Grab a Handful of Cherries 

There are plenty of options for cherries, and while many people love the sweet taste of maraschino cherries, these are not the ones that will help reduce your stress levels. Acerola cherries are one of the foods for stress reduction. They contain one of the most concentrated sources of vitamin C of any food. In reality, they may contain up to twice the vitamin C levels as citrus fruits, such as lemons and oranges. Even though vitamin C does play a critical role in your immune system, it can also help when it comes to your stress responses. 

Vitamin C plays a significant role in the stress response of your body. Medical studies have tied higher levels of vitamin C to lower levels of sadness and anger. Therefore, vitamin C may play a role in elevating your mood, which can help improve your stress levels. Furthermore, other medical studies have shown that eating foods that contain high amounts of vitamin C can also help you improve your mental and emotional health, allowing you to process your stress healthily. 

If you’re looking for ways to eat acerola cherries, they can certainly be enjoyed fresh. They pack a delicious taste; however, they also tend to perish relatively quickly. If you’re not planning on eating acerola cherries daily, you can also find them sold as a powder. You can then add acerola cherry powder to beverages and foods, exploring the numerous possibilities that they provide. Acerola cherry powder is one of the top foods for stress reduction because it has concentrated vitamin C levels. 

Give Swiss Chard a Try

If you have not eaten Swiss chard before, you should certainly give it a try. This is a leafy green vegetable with a wide variety of nutrients to help you fight high levels of stress. A single cup of Swiss chard contains more than a third of your recommended daily intake of magnesium. 

Research studies have shown that magnesium plays a critical role in helping control your levels of stress. If you do not consume enough magnesium, you may find that you’re having trouble regulating your emotional health. Also, medical studies have shown that chronic levels of stress can use up your body’s magnesium. Then, when you need this mineral because you’re stressed, it simply will not be there. 

If you’re trying Swiss chard for the first time, you might be wondering what it tastes like. It has a texture somewhere between spinach and kale. Even though it’s not quite as tender as spinach, it’s not as tough as kale either. On the other hand, you can cook it like both spinach and kale. One of the easiest ways to cook swiss chard is to saute it in some olive oil. It will be ready to eat in just a few minutes.

One challenge that you may encounter when trying to cook swiss chard is that the stems can be a little bit tough. If you want to eat the stems, you can boil them for a little while until they become tender. On the other hand, you may find that it’s easier to cut off the stems and remove them. 

If you’re wondering which foods reduce stress, Swiss chard is one option. In addition to containing a lot of magnesium, Swiss Chard is also high in vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C. 

Having a weight-loss system like Noom can help boost those vitamin levels in your diet, as our program uses personal meal plans, health tracking, and 1:1 human coaching sessions to improve health and aid in weight loss.

Eat a Few Whole Eggs

Most people think about eggs as one of the best protein sources, and while this is undoubtedly the case, eggs contain a variety of other nutrients. Some people even call them nature’s ultimate multivitamin because of the wide variety of nutrients they include. In addition to protein, whole eggs also contain minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and amino acids. This nutrient profile means that eggs are one of the top foods for stress reduction. 

One specific nutrient that whole eggs contain is called choline. Even though choline is found in a few foods, eggs have unusually high choline levels, which have been shown in medical studies to help you improve the health of your nervous system. This can enhance your brain’s ability to transmit signals from place to place, helping you reduce your overall stress levels. Consuming foods that are high in choline can help you improve your stress response and might help you elevate your mood as well. 

There are plenty of ways that you can cook eggs. Some people prefer to scramble them, while others prefer to boil or poach them. It’s important to note that some cooking methods may harm the overall nutrient profile of the eggs. You should try to use techniques that involve shorter cooking times and lower levels of heat. This will help you protect the nutrient profile of the eggs. 

Whether you decide to go with hard-boiled or soft-boiled eggs, poaching or boiling the eggs may help you preserve the nutritious value.

Explore the Flavor Possibilities of Hummus 

Hummus has become a popular food during the past few years. The primary ingredient in hummus is ground chickpeas. Chickpeas have been shown to help people improve their overall stress levels. As one of the top foods for stress reduction, chickpeas contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to help you regulate your mood. A few examples include copper, manganese, vitamin B, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. Specifically, hummus and chickpeas are high in levels of a specific amino acid called tryptophan, which the body uses to produce neurotransmitters to help regulate stress levels. 

Medical researchers have discovered that diets containing more plant proteins, such as chickpeas, can help you boost mental performance. In this manner, hummus may help you improve your nervous system’s health, including improving stress response. 

Hummus is a staple of the Mediterranean diet. One study took a closer look at more than 9,000 people who followed the Mediterranean diet. This diet is very rich in plant foods, such as chickpeas. The study found that individuals experienced much better moods and had lower stress levels than those who followed a typical Western diet, which tends to be higher in processed foods. 

Consider eating hummus regularly. It’s made from chickpeas that have a wide variety of nutrients to help keep your stress levels as low as possible. It also plays an integral role in the Mediterranean diet, helping you keep your stress levels down. Hummus is one of the top foods for stress reduction and is packed with protein and relatively low in carbs. There are numerous hummus flavors from which to choose, so give a few of them a try. 

Press a Little Garlic Into Your Meals 

Garlic is one of the most popular spices globally and can be added to just about anything. Even though garlic has been closely studied for a wide variety of health benefits, one of the significant benefits of garlic is that it can help you reduce your stress levels. 

First, garlic is high in a wide variety of sulfur compounds, contributing to its characteristic smell. The sulfur in garlic can help you increase levels of a specific compound called glutathione. Glutathione plays a role in a wide variety of body processes and also acts as an antioxidant. Medical studies have shown that antioxidants play a critical role in your body’s defense against stress. In addition, antioxidants also work with scavenging free radicals that could damage the genetic material of your body’s cells. 

There are also medical studies that have taken a look specifically at garlic and its ability to help you combat stress. Studies have shown that consuming garlic regularly can help you control problems that would otherwise damage your emotional and mental health

Garlic can be added to a variety of foods. Many people like to add it to fish, pork, beef, and chicken. In addition, garlic is also commonly mixed into hummus to give it a bit of a kick. Finally, people also love to saute garlic along with their vegetables. Because garlic is one of the most versatile foods available, it is one of the top foods for stress reduction. 

Garlic can also be an easy addition to a comprehensive weight-loss program like Noom since our program includes personalized meal plans, health tracking tools, 1:1 coaching, and other psychology-backed tools. Get started today!

Bake Some Salmon 

If you’re looking for foods for stress reduction, then vitamin D and fatty acids can certainly help. Even though you can get a lot of vitamin D by stepping outside, you will find just as much and healthy fatty acids by eating fish. Specifically, salmon and mackerel have been proven to help lower your stress levels by improving your mood. With high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is one of the top foods you can use to protect your neurological system, elevate your mood, and help reduce stress levels. 

This effect has been shown in medical studies. Research has consistently demonstrated that individuals with lower omega 3 fatty acid intake levels have more issues with mental and emotional health. By increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, you can elevate your mood and improve your ability to control your stress levels. If you’re wondering which foods reduce stress, salmon is one option.

Similar studies have been produced regarding vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a major role in your emotional health, mental health, and overall ability to regulate stress levels. If you do not have enough vitamin D in your body, you may struggle to manage stress. In addition to spending more time outside, you should consume salmon a couple of times a week to help you improve your ability to control stress levels. 

The good news is that salmon is an incredibly versatile food choice. Even though you can certainly fry salmon, it’s better for your overall health if you bake it. You can throw salmon in the oven and bake it at a few hundred degrees for a few minutes. Then, top it with some spices and turn it into a delicious meal. 

You can also cook an extra salmon filet and eat it for lunch the next day! If you’re wondering which foods reduce stress, salmon has a spot on the list! Because it’s high in vitamin D levels and omega-3 fatty acids, this is one of the top ways for you to control your stress levels naturally! 

Give Artichokes a Chance

Even though this may surprise some people, artichokes are one of the top foods for stress reduction. They are one of the best sources of fiber you can find. Artichokes are incredibly rich in prebiotics. This type of fiber is used to protect gut flora, the healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. Therefore, if you’re someone who suffers from digestive problems, artichokes may help. Studies have also shown that foods high in prebiotic fibers, such as artichokes, can help reduce your stress levels

Another study was completed showing that individuals who ate more than five grams of prebiotic fiber daily experience improved emotional health. They showed reduced symptoms of anxiety, sadness, and anger. Therefore, this study starts to reiterate that eating a diet high in prebiotic fiber can help you lower your stress levels as well. 

Finally, in addition to containing prebiotic fiber, artichokes have a wide variety of other vital nutrients. For example, artichokes are high in magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K. All of these nutrients can play an essential role in controlling your stress levels and managing the body’s stress response. This can go a long way toward helping you improve your overall health.

Artichokes are a versatile food to be cooked and eaten in multiple ways. It’s possible to grill them, boil them, stuff them, or braise them. Many people like to bake them; however, if you’re cooking artichokes for the first time, one of the easiest ways to cook them is by steaming. 

Steaming the artichokes will soften the outer leaves that protect the artichoke hearts. Then, the artichoke heart can be revealed and consumed quickly. One of the easiest ways to serve artichokes is to top them with a bit of lemon juice. This will give it a little kick, making for a delicious appetizer! 

Bask in the Antioxidants of Blueberries

In addition to being high in vitamin C, berries can also help improve your mood. Therefore, they may help you control stress levels as well. Blueberries are delicious and can be eaten straight, blended into a smoothie, added to yogurt, waffles, or cereal. In addition, blueberries are also very high in flavonoids and other antioxidants. These antioxidants have powerful anti-inflammatory effects to help you protect your nervous system. 

Because blueberries are so high in flavonoids, they can also help reduce inflammation, which can lower your stress level. Medical studies have shown that this can also help reduce cellular damage throughout your body. In addition, the flavonoids in blueberries have also been shown in medical studies to improve your emotional health

Even though blueberries tend to perish relatively quickly, there are many ways they can be eaten. You can also certainly freeze your blueberries to make them last longer.

They act as a great dessert following dinner. Simply top them with a little bit of yogurt, and you’re good to go! They make a great alternative to traditional dessert foods. If you’re wondering which foods reduce stress, blueberries are among the top foods for stress reduction. Why not grab a handful and give them a go? 

Throw on Some Parsley for Garnish

When people think about parsley, they usually imagine a food simply meant as a garnish. Some people even think parsley is tasteless. Parsley can help you improve your overall levels of stress. It’s a very nutritious herb packed with a wide variety of antioxidants to control your stress levels. 

By scavenging free radicals, parsley can help protect your body against oxidative stress. If you’re exposed to chronically high oxidative stress levels, this can wreak havoc on your overall mental health. Therefore, consuming antioxidants, such as those in parsley, can help control your stress.

Also, parsley is high in a wide variety of other nutrients. Some of the most common examples include volatile oils, flavonoids, and carotenoids. In addition to playing a role in the antioxidative process of parsley, these nutrients will also contribute to a wide variety of other health benefits.

If you’re wondering which foods reduce stress, parsley certainly earns a spot on the list. Fortunately, parsley is also a versatile herb to be added as a garnish to just about anything. For example, you may want to throw a pinch of parsley onto a pasta dish that you cook for dinner. Or, you may want to top a slice of baked salmon with some parsley for garnish as well. Make sure to incorporate a little bit of parsley into your meals to help you control your stress levels. 

Control Your Stress Levels With These Delicious Foods

Even though a small amount of stress is normal for everyday life, people must make sure they do not develop chronic stress. Individuals who develop chronic stress levels can harm their cardiovascular system, metabolic system, and digestive tract. We all must think about ways to control stress levels. Even though it’s a good idea to look at the root causes of stress and talk to mental health professionals if necessary, it’s also a good idea to take a closer look at foods for stress reduction. For those who are wondering which foods reduce stress, there are plenty of options available. Branch outside of your comfort zone and give a few of these options a try! They can play a significant role in helping you improve your mental and emotional health.

Branching out with new foods can be easier when you have a solid meal plan in place that can be personalized to your needs. Luckily, Noom not only offers custom meal plans, but also health coaching, health tracking tools, and an extensive food logging database.