Updated 04 November 2014

10 foods that relieve stress

Not coping? Eat your way out of stress with these 10 stress-busting foods. They'll not only boost your energy levels, they'll also protect your body and help you to keep your cool.


Not coping? When life is spiralling out of control, it is easy to neglect your body by fuelling up on junk foods or eating on the run. However, when you are stressed out your body needs its vitamins and minerals more than ever to function at its best. Eat your way out of stress (literally) with these ten healthy stress-busting foods. They will not only boost your overall energy and help you to keep your cool; they’ll also counteract the damaging effects of stress on your body.

1) Bananas

Bananas are filled with potassium, a mineral that can help reduce tension. Bananas are also great in pacifying and soothing the mind as they are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid which boosts the formation of serotonin (the feel-good hormone) and melatonin (the sleep hormone).

2) Spinach and broccoli

Dark green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli are powerhouses of vitamins that help replenish our bodies in times of stress. Both spinach and broccoli are a great source of magnesium, a mineral that helps lower your stress level by keeping you in a calm state. They are also rich in stress-relieving B vitamins, especially folic acid which helps relieve stress, anxiety, panic and even depression.

3) Milk and yoghurt

Milk and yoghurt are very high in calcium and B vitamins, which help to build your bones and are essential for nerve health. They also contain the mood stabiliser tryptophan, which helps to calm your mind, and explains why some people like to drink a glass of milk before bed.

4) Fish

Fish like tuna and mackerel is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that help keep your adrenaline from spinning out of control, and also protect your heart from heart disease, which is often linked to stress. Fish is an important source of B-vitamins, especially the stress fighters B6 and B12, which help with the production of serotonin, the “happy” brain chemical. Furthermore, fish contains choline (another B-complex vitamin), a great memory booster.

5) Nuts

Nuts are great stress relievers. They are a rich source of the serotonin-booster tryptophan and packed with B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium and zinc. The B-vitamins and magnesium regulate mood and relieve stress by boosting serotonin, whereas zinc has been shown to fight some of the negative effects of stress. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that destroys the free radicals related to stress and heart disease.

6) Blueberries

Blueberries are crammed with antioxidants, especially vitamin C which has been shown to give the body added reserves to help it cope with high levels of stress. Antioxidants fight free radicals that damage your cells and also help to repair and protect your body from the effects of stress.

7) Turkey and chicken

Turkey and chicken are great sources of the amino acid tryptophan which helps to calm and improve your mind and explains why people feel so relaxed, and even sleepy, after a chicken or turkey meal. Turkey is also an excellent source of protein, which helps to promote stable blood sugar levels and subsequently reduce stress.

8) Oranges

Oranges and other citrus fruit are well-known for their high levels of vitamin C. Stress can delete your storage of vitamin C. As your body does not produce the vitamin naturally, it is important to fuel up with vitamin C-rich foods to help your immune system function more efficiently under stress. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant – it helps to keep free radicals in check and to repair the body.

9) Dried apricots

Dried apricots are rich in the mineral magnesium, a natural stress-buster. Magnesium is essential for healthy nerve health and helps to relax your muscles. It is even said to help reduce heart palpitations brought on by stress. Apricots are also a good source of vitamin C which helps to boost your immune system.

10) Whole grains

Whole grains are a great source of the vitamin B-complex (especially the anti-stress vitamin pantothenic acid), minerals (such as the soothing magnesium, potassium and calcium), protein and, of course, fibre. All these compounds relieve stress and anxiety while simultaneously improving concentration. Whole grains also supply serotonin-producing carbohydrates that have a calming, soothing effect, while also sustaining energy levels (by keeping your blood sugar levels stable).

(Sources:; Health24 Stress Condition Centre;;;

Read more:

10 end-of-the-year stress busters
Stress - how does one cope?
Stress and your diet


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