Here are 6 stress-relieving foods and beverages to add to your diet.
1. Matcha powder
This vibrant green tea powder is popular among health enthusiasts because it’s rich in L-theanine, a non-protein amino acid with powerful stress-relieving properties.
Matcha is a better source of this amino acid than other types of green tea, as it’s made from green tea leaves grown in shade. This process increases its content of certain compounds, including L-theanine.
Both human and animal studies show that matcha may reduce stress if its L-theanine content is high enough and its caffeine is low.
For example, in a 15-day study, 36 people ate cookies containing 4.5 grams of matcha powder each day. They experienced significantly reduced activity of the stress marker salivary alpha-amylase, compared with a placebo group.
2. Swiss chard
Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that’s packed with stress-fighting nutrients.
Just 1 cup (175 grams) of cooked Swiss chard contains 36% of the recommended intake for magnesium, which plays an important role in your body’s stress response.
Low levels of this mineral are associated with conditions like anxiety and panic attacks. Plus, chronic stress may deplete your body’s magnesium stores, making this mineral especially important when you’re stressed.
3. Sweet potatoes
Eating whole, nutrient-rich carb sources like sweet potatoes may help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Although cortisol levels are tightly regulated, chronic stress can lead to cortisol dysfunction, which may cause inflammation, pain, and other adverse effects.
An 8-week study in women with excess weight or obesity found that those who ate a diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense carbs had significantly lower levels of salivary cortisol than those who followed a standard American diet high in refined carbs.
Sweet potatoes are a whole food that makes an excellent carb choice. They’re packed with nutrients that are important for stress response, such as vitamin C and potassium.
Kimchi is a fermented vegetable dish that’s typically made with napa cabbage and daikon, a type of radish. Fermented foods like kimchi are packed with beneficial bacteria called probiotics and high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Research reveals that fermented foods may help reduce stress and anxiety. For example, in a study in 710 young adults, those who ate fermented foods more frequently experienced fewer symptoms of social anxiety.
Many other studies show that probiotic supplements and probiotic-rich foods like kimchi have beneficial effects on mental health. This is likely due to their interactions with your gut bacteria, which directly affect your mood.
Artichokes are an incredibly concentrated source of fiber and especially rich in prebiotics, a type of fiber that feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut.
Animal studies indicate that prebiotics like fructooligosaccharides (FOSs), which are concentrated in artichokes, may help reduce stress levels.
Plus, one review demonstrated that people who ate 5 or more grams of prebiotics per day experienced improved anxiety and depression symptoms, as well as that high quality, prebiotic-rich diets may reduce your risk of stress.
Artichokes are also high in potassium, magnesium, and vitamins C and K, all of which are essential for a healthy stress response.
Eggs are often referred to as nature’s multivitamin because of their impressive nutrient profile. Whole eggs are packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants needed for a healthy stress response.
Whole eggs are particularly rich in choline, a nutrient found in large amounts in only a few foods. Choline has been shown to play an important role in brain health and may protect against stress.
Animal studies note that choline supplements may aid stress response and boost mood.