While it's impossible to eliminate stress, chronic stress takes a toll on your health. When left unchecked, stress may increase your risk of developing serious conditions, like depression and heart disease.
You may turn to several self-care methods like taking a walk or journaling to decrease cortisol—the stress hormone. However, other natural stress-reducing tools may already be in your pantry. We have identified 10 foods that can relieve stress.
Artichokes are rich in prebiotics—a type of fiber that feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut. This vegetable is also high in magnesium, potassium, and vitamins C and K, all of which are vital for a healthy stress response.
A review published in 2018 studied people who ate five or more grams of prebiotics daily. Researchers found that the subjects experienced improved depression symptoms as well as anxiety.
Flavonoids are known for their powerful neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory benefits, and blueberries are rich in flavonoids. These antioxidants are said to help reduce inflammation and protect against stress-induced cellular damage.
Numerous studies show that eating flavonoid-rich foods can boost mood and protect against depression.
Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, are known to reduce the risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, and mental health disorders, like depression. This is because broccoli is rich in folate, magnesium, and vitamin C, all of which are proven effective against depression.
Furthermore, broccoli contains sulforaphane, which possesses neuroprotective properties. This sulfur compound may also offer calming and antidepressant effects.
Since ancient times, chamomile has been used to reduce stress. Its extract has been shown to promote restful sleep as well as reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
A study published in 2017 that observed 45 people with anxiety found that taking 1.5 grams of chamomile extract decreased salivary cortisol levels.
Whole eggs are packed with amino acids, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, all of which are vital for a good stress response. Eggs are also rich in choline, which plays a crucial role in maintaining brain health and protecting against stress.
Fatty fish, such as herring, mackerel, and salmon, are rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fats, both of which help improve mood and reduce stress levels.
Omega-3 fats are said to be effective in helping your body deal with stress. Some studies have linked low omega-3 intake with increased depression and anxiety.
In addition, vitamin D plays a crucial role in stress management and maintaining mental health. Having low levels of this vitamin is often linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
The humble garlic contains high levels of sulfur compounds that increase glutathione levels in the body. This antioxidant plays a huge part in your body's first line of defense against stress.
A fermented vegetable dish made with daikon—a type of radish—and napa cabbage, kimchi is packed with gut-friendly probiotics. It is also high in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
According to research, fermented food has the potential to reduce stress and anxiety. Other studies support this finding and show that probiotic supplements as well as probiotic-rich foods, like kimchi, positively affect mental health. This is likely because probiotics are good for your gut bacteria, which directly affect your mood.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of nutrients, which may reduce cortisol levels. Although cortisol is tightly controlled, chronic stress leads to cortisol dysfunction, which may cause inflammation and pain.
Compared to refined carbs, whole carbs like sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients that help decrease salivary cortisol levels. Sweet potatoes are also an excellent addition to your diet as they're packed with vitamin C and potassium, which are essential for a healthy stress response.
L-theanine is a non-protein amino acid that possesses potent stress-relieving properties. Compared to other types of green tea, matcha is said to be a better source of L-theanine as it's made from tea leaves grown in the shade. And this process increases L-theanine content.
However, for matcha to be effective in reducing stress, make sure that your matcha powder is high in L-theanine and low in caffeine.
Take note of these foods the next time you restock your pantry. And incorporate them into your diet to naturally relieve stress.