The Best Foods to Relieve Stress (and Some to Avoid)

No matter how much you love your job, busy days can be extremely stressful. Working late hours and a hectic schedule can take a toll on your emotional and physical wellbeing. However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to de-stress, certain foods can help you to relax.

The Importance of Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that help to neutralise the effects of free radicals which are associated with stress hormones in the body. These compounds can be found in natural sources such as fruits and vegetables, as well as green tea and red wine.

Studies have shown that antioxidants can help protect against inflammation and oxidative damage caused by free radicals. This can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as providing protection from physical ailments. Additionally, antioxidants can also help to balance hormone levels in the body which is essential for regulating moods.

Certain vitamins have been shown to provide particular benefits when it comes to relieving stress – Vitamin C helps to produce neurotransmitters which regulate moods, while Vitamin E boosts your energy levels and reduces fatigue. Other calming foods rich in antioxidants include dark chocolate, blueberries, nuts & seeds, Legumes and whole grains.

Adding antioxidant-rich foods into your diet will not only make you feel better but they’ll also arm you with more tools for dealing with unwanted stress and helping you find balance through healthier habits.

Foods that are rich in antioxidants and relieve stress:

  1. Blueberries: These juicy fruits are filled with Vitamin C that helps regulate moods and fight off free radicals. They may also help reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress.
  2. Dark Chocolate: Containing flavonoids and polyphenols, dark chocolate can help reduce inflammation caused by stress hormones as well as increasing serotonin production in the brain.
  3. Avocados: Avocados provide the body with essential Vitamin E and healthy fats which can help to reduce stress levels and provide long lasting energy throughout the day.
  4. Nuts & Seeds: Almonds, cashews, chia seeds – all of these contain B vitamins which can help regulate moods and boost brain functioning for better manage stress and anxiety
  5. Legumes & Whole Grains: Lentils and brown rice are great sources of B vitamins which can increase energy levels throughout the day and reduce fatigue linked to chronic stressful responses

On the other hand, here are some foods you should avoid if you’re looking to reduce your stress levels:

Certain foods can increase stress for a variety of reasons.

Eating unhealthy processed and sugary foods can affect your blood sugar levels, leading to mood swings and feelings of anxiousness.

Foods with high levels of saturated fat can also increase inflammation in the body which is linked to stress hormones like cortisol.

Additionally, caffeine or alcohol should be consumed in moderation as they can lead to sleep disruption which is one of the primary factors when it comes to feeling stressed out.

Refined Sugars & Grains: Avoiding processed carbs and sugary snacks is key when it comes to dealing with anxiety as they can cause blood sugar spikes which can leave us feeling energised yet irritable afterwards.

Processed Meats & Cheeses: High consumption of red meat has been linked to increased levels of cortisol, a hormone related to how we handle stress in our bodies. Similarly, processed cheese products like mozzarella or cream cheese should also be limited due to their sodium content.

Caffeinated Beverages/Alcohol: While it may seem logical that drinking coffee or alcohol can calm us down after a particularly intense day at work – they both act as stimulants and can actually increase feelings of anxiety and restlessness instead!

The Takeaway

If you’re looking to reduce stress, focus on eating more nutrient-rich foods like blueberries, dark chocolate, avocados, nuts and seeds, and legumes & whole grains. These foods are all excellent sources of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that support healthy brain functioning and help regulate moods.

Avoid processed foods, sugar, coffee and alcohol which can all lead to an increase in cortisol levels or sleep disruption. Adding these mood-boosting foods to your diet can help keep your stress levels down and improve overall mental wellbeing.

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