5 Foods That Help Relieve Stress

How many of us don’t have stress in our lives? Exactly! In a nutshell chronic stress is associated with a multitude of undesirable health consequences, including systemic inflammation which paves the way to increased cortisol levels in our bodies. Cortisol is a stress hormone that negatively affects our physical and mental health. It can also lead to weight gain and further perpetuate the stress cycle.

Certain foods offer health-boosting compounds while simultaneously exerting anti-inflammatory effects to help promote immunity.

Here are five foods to add to your diet to help relieve stress:



Almonds are now officially recognized as a healthy snack! A mere handful has been shown to be helpful during times of stress. This is due to a multitude of health-promoting nutrients and antioxidants, including the immune-boosting vitamin E, B-vitamins, fiber, protein and healthy fats. Incorporate almonds into a trail mix, sprinkle over cereal, yogurt or oatmeal, throw in salad or my favorite way, drop a tablespoon of almond butter in a smoothie. Although healthful, almonds are a calorically dense food, so make sure to stick to one ounce (24 nuts) and avoid brands with added oils and sugars.


cocoabeansKick flavors up a notch by adding cocoa powder to smoothies, pancake batter, chili and even your morning cup of joe. Why? Cocoa contains flavonols which have potent antioxidant activity and research shows that moderate consumption may exert a beneficial effect on immune function, blood glucose levels and mood.

Black Beans

black beansBlack beans are a good source of the mineral magnesium. A 1/2 cup provides approximately 15% of the DV (daily value) for magnesium. In addition to being a key player in bone health and blood pressure regulation, magnesium is important for brain function and mood and low levels can exacerbate the effects of stress. Black beans are a great addition to chili, soups and burritos. Or you can go for the ultimate in creativity and add to eggs along with salsa, onion and green peppers for a power-packed breakfast.



You can’t beat the omega-3 fatty acids lurking in fatty fish like salmon.Truth be told, this brain food plays an important role in mood and stress by helping counteract harmful stress effects. In addition to the omega-3s, the protein and B-vitamins work together to ensure adequate production of serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone that help keep stress levels in check.

Oranges (& other citrus)

Variety of fruits

Oranges are chock full of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, in addition to other beneficial phytochemicals that offer anti-inflammatory perks to help ward off stress and chronic diseases. Eat oranges plain, add slices to salads, roast oranges (with rind) with a small drop of cinnamon and sugar (seriously delish) or slurp a cup of juice.

Wendy for Blog

Wendy Kaplan, MS, RDN, CDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in oncology and weight management. She is also the Nutrition Consultant/Educator for Mondays at Racine Cancer Care Foundation, a 501c3.  Connect with Wendy on FacebookInstagram and Twitter and read more of her blog posts at #WellnesswithWendy