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Top Ten Stress Busting Foods

Top Ten Stress Busting Foods

STRESS.  We all have it.  We don’t want it. But…what do we do about it?  Studies show there is a valid link between feeling good and living longer.  What we eat plays an important role in that connection, including how it affects our moods and stress levels.  Foods can help curb stress in several ways.  Comfort foods boost levels of the brain calming hormone called serotonin.  Some foods can lower levels of stress hormones, cortisol, and adrenaline. Still, other foods can help offset the impact of stress by supporting our immune system and lowering blood pressure. Unsure of which foods play a role in helping to manage stress? Read on…

Complex Carbohydrates 

All carbs stimulate the brain to make more serotonin, but the healthier complex carbs also help stabilize blood sugars.  For a steady supply of this feel-good hormone, include whole-grain bread/pasta, legumes, brown rice, beans, and bran in your diet.

Dark Chocolate

The good news here!  Dark chocolate can decrease stress by releasing serotonin and increasing a general feeling of well-being.  Look for a cocoa content of at least 70 %.

Fatty Fish.  

The omega -3 fatty acids in fatty fish, like salmon, have anti-inflammatory properties that may counteract the negative effect of stress hormones, cortisol, and adrenaline.  Other sources of omega 3’s include nuts, edamame, chia, flax seeds, and enriched eggs.

Hot Tea Tea  

Drinking herbal teas can be soothing to the digestive tract, which can help with stress by calming the nervous system in the gut.


An excellent source of vitamin C!  This vitamin has been shown to help curb stress by strengthening the immune system. Other good sources of vitamin C include red peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, kiwi, kale, and oranges.


This healthy nut is full of vitamin E that helps support our immune system also.  Keep portions in control as this snack is calorie-dense.  


This slimy little delicacy is an excellent source of the mineral zinc.  Zinc helps to strengthen our immune system and lower the body’s response to stress.  Other foods that contain zinc include beef, poultry, nuts, and seeds.


Too little magnesium may trigger headaches and fatigue, compounding the effects of stress.  Magnesium helps regulate cortisol, the stress hormone.  Not a fan of spinach?  Try beans, brown rice, cashews, and peanuts as other good sources of magnesium.


Stress can lead to high blood pressure.  One of the best ways to reduce high blood pressure is to get enough potassium.  Half of an avocado has more potassium than a medium-sized banana.  Other good sources of potassium include leafy greens, fish, potatoes, and squash.


The bacteria in your gut may contribute to stress.  The brain and gut communicate via body chemicals, which is why stress can cause GI symptoms.  Consuming probiotics in yogurt can help manage stress.

Dawn Davoli

Dawn Davoli, Registered Dietitian is a frequent presenter at the Excela Health Mall Walkers program and also provides education through public speaking engagements and the school-based program “Healthy Habits”.