9 Healthy Foods That Combat Stress

June 30th, 2020 by Loretta Lanphier, NP, CN, CH, HHP

9 Healthy Foods That Combat Stress

Stress and anxiety affect approximately 40 million adults. (R) According to some newly released numbers in the American Psychological Association’s 2019 Stress in America survey, the average person is under moderate stress levels—coming in at 4.9 on a 10-point scale. Implementing some natural steps to combat stress and anxiety can help tremendously; unfortunately, only about one-third of those who suffer actually receive treatment. If you find yourself struggling, research indicates that by merely incorporating healthy foods that combat stress and anxiety into your everyday diet, you can tackle nutritional gaps that may be intensifying your anxiety and stress symptoms.

Your body produces about 95 percent of your serotonin in your gut. (R) This good bacteria dramatically affects your ability to produce it. Research indicates that those who have increased levels of good bacteria in their guts experienced lowered anxiety and stress and have improved mental attitudes. (R) When we use food as our medicine by including, in our diet, foods that reduce stress, we can manage stress and anxiety in non-toxic ways. Let’s take a look at 9 healthy foods that combat stress.

9 Healthy Foods That Combat Stress

1. Blueberries

When you experience anxiety and stress, your body desires vitamin C, which repairs and protects your cells. The health benefits of blueberries are many, and research indicates they are full of antioxidants and vitamin C, which research suggests can both prevent and reduce anxiety and stress. (R)

2. Nuts and Seeds

Seeds have fantastic health benefits and have stress-reducing benefits. Pumpkin seeds and cashews are rich in magnesium, which is excellent for a healthy nervous system. Sunflower seeds and chia seeds contain a good amount of tryptophan, an amino acid that aids in producing serotonin and melatonin, which affect sleep and mood. It’s easy to add seeds to your favorite smoothie or salad.

Cashews contain many nutrients that can help reduce stress and are known to be an excellent source of magnesium, which plays an essential role in stabilizing energy levels as well as regulating the nervous system. They are also abundant in vitamin B6, which helps produce serotonin, which helps with mood.

Check out our recipe for Cinnamon and Cayenne Roasted Mixed Nuts.

3. Avocado

Monounsaturated fats assist and support neurotransmitters and complete brain health. Foods rich in magnesium, such as avocados, can help to calm nerves. Avocado, also known as alligator pear or butter fruit, is also rich in vitamin B6, which helps the body make several neurotransmitters that include serotonin, which influences mood. By nourishing your nervous system, regulating your blood pressure, and balancing your blood sugar, foods rich in magnesium can help ease stress and anxiety. Avocados are also high in stress-relieving B vitamins and heart-healthy fat that may help to lessen stress and anxiety. Vitamin E, found only in foods like nuts and avocados, helps to keep blood vessels open as well as assisting in the formation of red blood cells.

Have you ever heard of avocado ice cream? All you need to do is blend in a high-speed blender avocado, a ripe banana, vanilla extract, almond milk, and a healthy sweetener. Put in the freezer for several hours, and it’s ready to eat. Enjoy the deliciousness knowing that you’re boosting those B vitamins as you eat.

4. Dark Chocolate

We all know that chocolate can release those feel-good chemicals located in the brain. It also falls into the comfort food category and tastes good; research has shown that dark chocolate can actually help calm you down. Dark chocolate is shown to improve vascular health by helping to increase blood flow and reducing inflammation. Check out our Healthy Chocolate Hummus Dessert Recipe.

healthy foods that help reduce stress

5. Carrots

Carrots are usually seen more like a beauty or fitness food; however, they are also said to be a powerful tranquilizer because they contain a natural pain-killer called phenylalanine. Lack of this hormone produced in the body is thought to cause anxiety, depression, and muscle or body aches.

Carrots also contain a high amount of magnesium, which is much needed by the nervous system for calm and relaxation. Magnesium deficiency is said to be the cause of some health concerns such as depression, panic attacks, confusion, cramps, muscular tension, and premenstrual syndrome, to name a few.

Carrots are also high in Vitamin B6, which helps with mood issues.

6. Leafy Greens

Most know that leafy greens are essential to good health. Did you know that most dark, leafy greens have the same amount or even more calcium than milk? Calcium is a required mineral that, in addition to supporting bone health, lowers your risk of high blood pressure. It also helps in the absorption of vitamin D, which encourages happiness.  Spinach, kale, and collard greens are high in vital stress-reducing nutrients and minerals such as B-vitamins, which help with energy levels, regulate mood, and improve brain function.

7. Coldwater Fish

According to a study from Ohio University, omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial when it comes to foods that help with anxiety. (R) A very healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and coldwater fish can help to keep cortisol levels from increasing when you’re feeling stressed and tense. Try using different types of spices and flavor combinations when cooking salmon. Sprinkle cold water fish with Himalayan salt, pepper, and a bit of organic garlic. You can also add some sprigs of rosemary and top with thinly sliced organic lemon.

8. Lemon Balm Tea

According to WebMD, “Early research shows that taking a single dose of lemon balm — also called Melissa officinalis L — increases calmness and alertness in adults under mental stress. (R) Other early research shows that adding lemon balm to a food or drink reduces anxiety and improves memory and alertness during mental testing.”

9. Oranges and Pink Grapefruit

The next time you feel that urge to reach for a sugary snack after experiencing a stressful day or event, how about grabbing a piece of citrus fruit instead. The aroma, vitamins, and antioxidants in oranges and pink grapefruit reduce stress levels and also boost your immunity. According to the University of Maryland, high doses of vitamin C, which both oranges and pink grapefruit contain, are proven to reduce both physical and mental responses to stress. A reminder that it’s best to eat the whole fruit rather than just drinking the juice. Not only do you get the juice, but also the fiber, which helps to minimize an insulin spike.

Organic Tulsi Holy Basil Extract

In Conclusion…Ditch the SAD

If you’ve never heard of SAD, it stands for the Standard American Diet, which is usually void of essential vitamins and nutrients. My best advice is to focus on eating healthy foods that combat stress and begin paying specific attention to how you feel when eating certain foods, both at the moment and the next day. Try consuming a “clean and healthy” diet for one month, especially eliminating all processed foods and refined sugar. Make a checklist of how you feel before and after eating a healthy diet. You can slowly introduce certain foods back into your diet, one by one, to see how you feel. However, if you see a big difference in how you feel, you may not want to go back to many of the foods you were consuming.

I’ve found that when clients “go clean and healthy,” they are astonished about how quickly they begin to feel better as well as their rising energy levels — both physically and emotionally. And when they try to reintroduce foods they were used to eating, how much worse they begin to feel. These two sentences are better than all the research available, in my opinion.

Loretta Lanphier is a Naturopathic Practitioner, Board Certified Traditional Naturopath, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Health Practitioner, and Certified Clinical Herbalist as well as the CEO / Founder of Oasis Advanced Wellness in The Woodlands TX. She has studied and performed extensive research in health science, natural hormone balancing, anti-aging techniques, nutrition, natural medicine, weight loss, herbal remedies, non-toxic cancer support. She is actively involved in researching new natural health protocols and products.  A 14-year stage 3 colon cancer survivor, Loretta, can relate to both-sides-of-the-health-coin as patient and practitioner when it comes to health and wellness. “My passion is counseling others about what it takes to keep the whole body healthy using natural and non-toxic methods.” Read Loretta’s health testimony Cancer: The Path to Healing. Loretta is Contributor and Editor of the worldwide E-newsletter Advanced Health & Wellness. Check out Oasis Advanced Wellness and our natural skincare site Oasis Serene Botanicals.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician of choice.

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