5 Foods That Help Reduce Stress

Apr 14, 2023 Stress 6 MIN

5 Foods That Help Reduce Stress

Quick Health Scoop

  • Stress can affect your well-being and increases your body’s need for certain nutrients.
  • You can achieve a greater sense of calm by focusing on certain foods for stress relief.
  • Incorporating the right foods and stress-reducing supplements are ways to ease tension and worry.

Stress is a normal part of life and has many causes, but sometimes it may feel like more than you can handle. If your stress levels affect your everyday life, you can relieve stress by optimizing your nutrition. One of the best ways to reduce stress is by eating the right foods: increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats, and limiting processed foods, fried foods, trans fats and other unhealthy fats.

While you can’t necessarily avoid stress in your life, you don’t have to let it take over. In addition to healthy lifestyle practices such as exercise, meditation, and quality sleep, the food you eat plays a pivotal role in how your body deals with stress.

In fact, research shows that stress can deplete your body’s nutrient stores, increasing the need for certain nutrients such as the B vitamins, vitamin C, selenium, and magnesium.[1]† 

In this article, I’ll share 5 of the best foods for stress that will not only nourish your body and mind, but help you find your inner zen.

1.  Fatty Fish

Fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout have robust stress-fighting properties. They are rich in several key nutrients that may help you find your inner calm:

  • Omega-3 fats: The fatty acids EPA and DHA are good fats abundant in your brain and eyes. Research has shown that adequate levels of EPA and DHA support a healthy mood. EPA and DHA play several important roles in the brain, such as helping to produce serotonin (a neurotransmitter that regulates mood). [9 [2]
  • Vitamin D: Fatty fish is one of the few natural sources of Vitamin D in the diet, a nutrient that may also support a sense of calm. Research studies have shown low levels of Vitamin D may be associated with higher levels of stress and occasional anxiety. [3]
  • B Vitamins: Fish is also rich in B Vitamins B6 and B12. These B vitamins support a healthy brain and nervous system and are important cofactors needed to make serotonin. They also help convert food into energy, supporting healthy levels during times of stress when you tend to feel run-down. [4]

RD tip: Enjoy 2-3 fatty fish servings per week. If you want to reap fish’s benefits but aren’t a fish fan, you can take a fish oil supplement. Our Nature Made® Extra Strength Fish Oil contains the recommended dose of at least 1000 mg of EPA  and a total of 1000-2000 mg EPA and DHA per serving to support a healthy mood.

Learn more: Fish Oil vs. Omega-3, Explained

2.  Fermented Foods

Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut are not just beneficial for your gut, but they can support your mental wellness too. The reason for this is that your gut and brain are intricately connected through what is called the “gut-brain axis.”

This means that according to research, if your gut is in tip-top shape, this can translate to your mental health, and vice versa.[5]

These fermented foods are also used as probiotics, beneficial bacteria that help maintain a balanced gut microbiome and support digestive health.

RD tip: Include fermented foods in your diet daily, but stick to lower sugar versions of kefir and kombucha for optimal health. If you don’t love these foods or eat them regularly, ask your doctor about a probiotic supplement.

3.  Nuts

Nuts like walnuts, almonds, and pistachios are another great stress-busting snack to add to your arsenal. They are high in Magnesium, B Vitamins, and good fats - all of which support a healthy mood.[6]

Magnesium in particular can help relax the body and supports nervous system health. † About 48% of Americans typically have magnesium intake below recommended levels, according to the latest research.[7]

The Vitamin B content of nuts also helps support healthy brain function and mood and provides good fats to support mental wellness.

RD tip: Snack your way to a calmer you with a handful of nuts per day. A daily multivitamin with minerals can also provide your daily dose of Magnesium and B Vitamins if your diet is not always consistent.

4.  Citrus Fruits

Fruits such as oranges, strawberries, and grapefruit may also help ease stress and anxiety levels occasionally. This is thought to be due to their richness in Vitamin C,an antioxidant linked to stress reduction via a reduction in oxidative stress.[8]

RD tip: Enjoy a daily dose of citrus fruits or strawberries as a delicious snack or meal addition. For added peace of mind, you can also take a multivitamin that contains 100% of the daily requirements for Vitamin C.

Learn more - Vitamin Health Benefits & Food Sources - A Complete Guide

5.  Herbal Tea

Are you a coffee connoisseur? If you’re feeling stressed, you may want to swap one of your daily cups of joe for herbal tea instead.

Herbal tea such as chamomile, lemon balm, or lavender tea can reduce feelings of stress in the moment, just from the mere act of drinking them.

Not only do these herbs provide a relaxing effect on their own, but research has also suggested holding and sipping a warm beverage like tea increases feelings of “warmth” and “friendliness.” If you’ve never done it before, trust me it definitely provides a soothing effect![9]

I drink chamomile tea every night as part of my evening winddown routine. Whether I’m reading a book simultaneously or simply sipping in silence, tea definitely helps to calm me after a long day and quiets my mind to fall asleep.

RD tip: Swap one of your daily coffee drinks for tea or include it as part of your morning or evening routine, and feel the stress fade away.

The Bottom Line

If you’re feeling stressed (and maybe even a little hangry), you can learn how to reduce stress with these 5 delicious foods to nourish yourself and find your calm. The food you eat can help ease your stress woes inside and out, so you can better tackle each and every day.

If your stress levels are affecting your everyday life, start by incorporating foods to reduce stress into your meals and snacks.

And when you need stress reducing supplements to fill in your nutrition gaps, look no further than our Nature Made® collection of vitamins, minerals, and specialty supplements as well as our WellBlends line of stress relief supplements like our stress-relief gummies.

If healthy lifestyle practices are not enough to combat your stress, consider consulting a mental health professional for support and speak to your medical doctor.

Learn more about Ways to Reduce Stress:

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


  1. Lopresti AL. The Effects of Psychological and Environmental Stress on Micronutrient Concentrations in the Body: A Review of the Evidence. Adv Nutr. 2020 Jan 1;11(1):103-112. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmz082. PMID: 31504084; PMCID: PMC7442351.
  2. Lange KW. Omega-3 fatty acids and mental health. Global Health Journal. 2020;4(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.glohj.2020.01.004
  3. Silva MRM, Barros WMA, Silva MLD, Silva JMLD, Souza APDS, Silva ABJD, Fernandes MSS, Souza SL, Souza VON. Relationship between vitamin D deficiency and psychophysiological variables: a systematic review of the literature. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2021 Nov 8;76:e3155. doi: 10.6061/clinics/2021/e3155. PMID: 34755759; PMCID: PMC8552952.
  4. Tardy AL, Pouteau E, Marquez D, Yilmaz C, Scholey A. Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 16;12(1):228. doi: 10.3390/nu12010228. PMID: 31963141; PMCID: PMC7019700.
  5. DiNicolantonio JJ, O'Keefe JH, Wilson W. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart. 2018 Jan 13;5(1):e000668. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2017-000668. Erratum in: Open Heart. 2018 Apr 5;5(1):e000668corr1. PMID: 29387426; PMCID: PMC5786912.
  6. Carabotti M, Scirocco A, Maselli MA, Severi C. The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems. Ann Gastroenterol. 2015 Apr-Jun;28(2):203-209. PMID: 25830558; PMCID: PMC4367209.
  7. Pribis P. Effects of Walnut Consumption on Mood in Young Adults-A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2016 Oct 25;8(11):668. doi: 10.3390/nu8110668. PMID: 27792133; PMCID: PMC5133056.
  8. Sebastian J Padayatty, John L Doppman, Richard Chang, Yaohui Wang, John Gill, Dimitris A Papanicolaou, Mark Levine, Human adrenal glands secrete vitamin C in response to adrenocorticotrophic hormone, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 86, Issue 1, July 2007, Pages 145–149, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/86.1.145
  9. Williams LE, Bargh JA. Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth. Science. 2008 Oct 24;322(5901):606-7. doi: 10.1126/science.1162548. PMID: 18948544; PMCID: PMC2737341.


Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

NatureMade Contributor

Melissa Mitri, RD is a seasoned dietitian and health writer. She specializes in helping women move away from restrictive habits that lead to vicious yo-yo weight cycles. Melissa enjoys writing about health, nutrition, and fitness with the goal of simplifying complex health topics for the reader. Find out more about Melissa at www.melissamitri.com

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Sandra Zagorin, MS, RD

Science and Health Educator

As a member of the Medical and Scientific Communications team, Sandra educates healthcare professionals and consumers on nutrition, supplements, and related health concerns. Prior to joining Pharmavite, Sandra worked as a clinical dietitian at University of Chicago Medicine in the inpatient and outpatient settings. Sandra received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Science, with minors in Spanish and Chemistry from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. She earned her Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from RUSH University in Chicago, IL. As part of her Master’s program, Sandra performed research on physical activity participation and correlates in urban Hispanic women.

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