Foods That Can Help Relieve Stress

Food isn’t a cure-all, but it can definitely affect your mood.

February 10, 2023

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Yes, food does impact your mood and it’s possible to eat your way to a more relaxed state. While there isn’t a cure-all food to magically erase frustration, you can get relieve stress with a combination of exercising, eating small meals throughout the day and getting more of these 10 foods.

Whole-Wheat Pretzels

Carbohydrate-rich foods can give you an energy boost and trigger the brain to release a feel-good chemical called serotonin. Opt for a whole-grain snack like certain cereals, pretzels, bread, crackers to provide extra fiber while you’re at it.

Carrot Sticks

Munching on crunchy foods helps beat stress. Nutrient-rich carrots, celery and other crunchy, fresh vegetables offer satisfying crispness but won’t bog you down with too many calories.


Calm frazzled nerves with a steaming cup of your favorite tea blend. The soothing warmth and tea’s plant compounds work together to level off your body’s response to stress. Both herbal and black tea can help calm nerves; some types of tea have been found to reduce the risk of depression.


Stress runs you down, which leaves you open to sickness. Almonds, pistachios and walnuts are high in antioxidant vitamin E and mineral zinc two nutrients that can benefit immunity health. Bonus: Those nuts are good sources of B-vitamins, which help the body manage stress, too. Since nuts are high in (healthy) fats, aim for 1/4-cup portions.

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard and other leafy greens, like spinach, are full of magnesium (a single cup covers 40 percent of your daily need). Getting more magnesium can help control and limit your body’s release of the stress-spiking hormone cortisol. Science stuff aside, wilted greens are a delicious addition to soups, pasta and rice dishes or taste great just sautéed with olive oil and garlic.


Work more calcium into your diet with non-fat or low-fat yogurt. Yogurt contains probiotics that help create a healthy and calm digestive system. For an ultra-satisfying snack, sprinkle nuts and some fruit on top of your next bowl.


Chocolate lovers know that just a taste can cure all that ails them and there’s actually science to back it up. Research indicates that dark chocolate may lower levels of stress hormones. Chocolate also contains sugar (a carbohydrate), so it releases mood-improving serotonin. It’s alright to indulge; just keep the portions in check with one-ounce servings.


Have a glass to get more B-vitamins, protein, vitamin D and bone-building calcium to relieve tense muscles. Opt for low-fat (one percent) or skim varieties for the least number of calories and highest amount of protein. If you prefer it with more flavor, have some with whole-grain cereal in the morning or sip on chocolate milk around bedtime to bring on more restful sleep.

Banana and Avocado

That’s two things, we know, but what do these fruits have in common? They’re loaded with potassium, a vital mineral for keeping blood pressure low. Add sliced banana to your morning oatmeal or a half-cup of sliced avocado to a lunchtime salad or sandwich. That will cover your potassium needs for the day.

Fatty Fish

The heart-healthy omega-3 fats in fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna manage adrenaline levels to help keep you calm, cool and collected. They’re also good for just about every part of your body, including the eyes, skin and hair.