Health & Nutrition
July 1, 2021
• Updated on
2 Jul

5 Natural Stress-Relieving Foods You Should Add

Stress has become a permanent fixture in our lives today. When stress takes a permanent space in your life, it starts taking a toll on your health. Over time, chronic stress can result in headaches, migraines, anxiety, depression, obesity, heart problems, irregular periods, insomnia, infertility, and decreased sex drive. The immediate impact includes irritability, nervousness, upset stomach and poor performance at work. But much of this can be managed with stress-relieving foods

It isn’t possible to eliminate stress from life today. But it is possible to control how you respond to it. From the boardroom to the bedroom, stress can strike anywhere, anytime. While we all are vulnerable to stress in our daily lives, cutting down its impact on our health is actually in our hands.

It is important to train your body and mind to control the impact of stress on your mood and body, instead of letting it drive you crazy. You probably know that some of the best ways to beat stress are spending a little time outdoors; talking to friends, take up a hobby or exercise. Simply, try to catch a few deep breaths and step away (mentally) from the situation for a few minutes. Remaining calm in a tough situation is difficult, but you can always practice and try to make it a habit.

stress relieving foods

Another thing that can help you relieve stress is food - in particular, stress-busting foods. Nope, we are not talking about eating when you are stressed, which often leads to overeating. It is also known as emotional eating where your emotions – not your body – dictate when and how much you eat. Instead, we are talking about foods that reduce stress and anxiety naturally. Foods that do not throw you into the vicious cycle of emotional eating. Foods that enable you to fight and not just suppress it for a few hours. Foods that provide mental and physical nourishment.

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1. Ashwagandha 

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb, and one of the most popular Ayurvedic stress-relieving foods. which means it helps you adapt in the face of stress. When stressed, your adrenal glands release cortisol, known as the stress hormone, in response to stress. High levels of stress hormone over a period of time can lead to high sugar levels and increased fat storage in the body. Studies have shown that ashwagandha helps reduce cortisol levels. It has also been seen to be effective in chronic stress and anxiety disorder. 

stress relieving foods

2. Amla

Amla or Indian Gooseberry has adaptogenic qualities too! Plus it is a rich source of Vitamin C that hits stress hard. Loaded with many health-promoting antioxidants, it helps fight free radicals. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and can help detoxify the liver. Stress is also known to disrupt your digestive enzymes and reduce your body’s ability to absorb nutrients at a healthy rate. Amla not only increases the nutrient absorption ability of the body (especially iron), it also helps relieve constipation. Be sure to include amla in your list of stress-relieving foods.

stress relieving foods

3. Banana

Packed with potassium, bananas help calm your stress levels instantly. Potassium is a vital mineral that helps normalise your heartbeat, send oxygen to your brain and regulate your body’s water balance. So banana gives a perfect boost of potassium when your potassium levels drop due to stress and anxiety. It is a source of magnesium and tryptophan that produces serotonin in our body which further uplifts your mood.

foods that reduce stress

4. Coconut Water

Coconut water or nariyal pani is nature’s energy drink and one of the most hydrating stress-relieving foods you can find. Low in fat, high in energy, coconut water is nature’s own elixir. A good source of hydration, it contains GABA, a neurotransmitter that reduces stress and is anti-ageing in nature. Fresh coconut water gives you a great mix of electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals that keep your body well hydrated. Plus, it’s easy to source and a much better alternative to bottled energy drinks and juices! 

foods that reduce stress
Coconut Water

5. Almonds 

Almonds may not be the first thing that come to mind when you thinks of foods that relieve stress and depression. A fistful of almonds offers a healthy dose of monosaturated fats, fibre, protein, and various other important nutrients. Almonds are also rich in selenium that directly fights fatigue, depression, and anxiety. These are a good source of magnesium too, which combats stress.

foods that reduce stress

What Not To Eat

We’ve given you a list of stress-relieving foods - but here are some foods to avoid when stressed. These may give an instant feeling of satisfaction, but they consist of empty calories, are high in sugar and salt, and devoid of any real nutrition.  

  • Refined sugar
  • Salt
  • Refined flours (maida)
  • Processed meat
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol 
stress busting foods

Instead of reaching for convenience foods, turn to nature. There are several healthy whole foods (like the stress-relieving foods listed above) that have been scientifically proven to alter brain chemistry and hormones to help your body deal with stress. 

Check out our healthy stress-busting recipes

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How can I kill anxiety naturally?

You can uplift your mood by eating the right combination of foods, combined with exercise, meditation and breathing. However, if feelings of anxiety persist, you should consult a professional. 

Why does eating relieve stress?

Some kinds of foods, like sugary foods, give you an instant rush and make you feel satisfied - but not for long. Natural foods that reduce stress help keep you in a better mood in the long run. 

Which fruit is best for stress?

Banana is one of the best stress-relieving foods. It is rich in potassium, a vital mineral that helps normalise the heartbeat, send oxygen to the brain and regulate the body’s water level.

Is there a stress-management diet?

Some combinations of stress-relieving foods can be put together and called a stress-management diet. 

Stress-busting foods: how do they work?

Stress-relieving foods work from within to help maintain a balance in your body. They work to stabilise your hormones and brain chemistry to help you feel more uplifted. 

Lovneet Batra
Lovneet Batra is a clinical nutritionist with over a decade of experience treating patients and educating people on the benefits of a healthy diet. One of Delhi’s most sought-after nutritionists...
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