If you're feeling stressed, it's only natural to seek relief.
While occasional bouts of stress are difficult to avoid, chronic stress can take a serious toll on your physical and emotional health. In fact, it may increase your risk of conditions like heart disease and depression.
Interestingly, certain foods may have stress-relieving qualities. Here are some stress-relieving foods to add to your diet.
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.
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.
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 and boost mood.
Shellfish, which include mussels, clams, and oysters, are high in amino acids like taurine, which has been studied for its potential mood-boosting properties.
Taurine and other amino acids are needed to produce neurotransmitters like dopamine, which are essential for regulating stress response. In fact, studies indicate that taurine may have antidepressant effects.
Fatty fish like mackerel, herring, salmon, and sardines are incredibly rich in omega-3 fats and vitamin D, nutrients that have been shown to help reduce stress levels and improve mood.
Omega-3s are not only essential for brain health and mood but may also help your body handle stress. In fact, low omega-3 intake is linked to increased anxiety and depression in Western populations.
Vitamin D also plays critical roles in mental health and stress regulation. Low levels are associated with an increased risk of anxiety and depression.
Garlic is high in sulfur compounds that help increase levels of glutathione. This antioxidant is part of your body's first line of defense against stress. What's more, animal studies suggest that garlic helps combat stress and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Still, more human research is needed.
Numerous foods contain nutrients that may help you reduce stress. Try incorporating some of these foods into your diet to naturally promote stress relief.