by | May 16, 2014 | 33 comments

foods to reduce stress

Over 70% of Americans say they experience negative symptoms caused by stress, and I’d venture to guess there isn’t anyone out there who hasn’t experienced periods of stress at one time or another.  So when I was asked to prepare a list of foods that can help combat stress for a corporate health fair I did earlier this week, I knew it would be a topic that you all would be interested in as well.

Megan Lyons Health and Wellness Coach

Of course, there is nothing that can magically eliminate all of your stress, and eating these ten foods is not a guarantee that you won’t ever feel stressed again.  However, there are nutrients included in these foods that can help your body combat the negative impacts of stress, and help you become more resilient in the face of stress.  Even if it’s just a tiny step, it’s still a step in the right direction!

Health requires healthy food quote

You’ll probably notice that these foods are healthy foods in general – whether you are stressed or not.  Stress lowers our bodies’ defenses, slows down and impairs its regular functions, so loading up on healthy, nutrient-dense foods gives us an extra edge to make sure our bodies can run as optimally as possible, even in the face of stress.  So here they are … dig in and enjoy!

Top 10 Foods to Reduce Stress …and Increase Health!

Top 10 Foods to Reduce Stress from The Lyons' Share

  • Almonds and pistachios
    • Zinc to boost immune system
    • Vitamin E to fight free radicals associated with stress
  • Asparagus
    • Folic acid to stabilize mood
  • Avocado
    • Potassium to prevent insomnia, nervousness, depression
  • Banana
    • Potassium to prevent insomnia, nervousness, depression
    • Magnesium to help you relax
  • Broccoli and spinach
    • Vitamin B and iron to act as mood stabilizers
  • Fish
    • Omega-3s to reduce anxiety and inflammation
    • Vitamins B6 and B12 to help calm nerves and anxiety
    • Magnesium to help you relax
  • Oatmeal
    • Vitamin E to fight free radicals associated with stress
    • Zinc to improve immune system
  • Oranges
    • Vitamin C to strengthen immune system (weakens under stress)
  • Tea
    • To balance stress hormones like cortisol
  • Yogurt
    • Vitamin B to act as mood stabilizer
    • Calcium to regulate nerves

*As always, this is not intended to be medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and if you think stress is having a detrimental impact on your life, you should see a doctor or other trained professional!*

So tell me in the comments … Which of these stress-fighting foods is your favorite?  Do you have any other foods that reduce stress to add to the list?  Or any other, non-food tips to help reduce stress?


  1. Becky@TheSavedRunner

    I am so happy to see that I love most of the foods on this list! Very informative, I loved reading all of this. Thanks for sharing Megan!

  2. Michael Anderson

    This list is obviously totally bogus because of the lack of “Big Honkin’ Bowl of Ice Cream” on the list with the benefit of “oh who really cares?!?”

    haha 😀

    Seriously this is an AWESOME list, and I really love all of the benefits you have listed out – really informative.

    I have talked about my ‘self taught weight loss’ method and also learning about food more and more through the years … and like so many others I tended to avoid ‘fats’ and so on, therefore probably didn’t eat nuts or nut butter for at least 15-20 years.

    It is amazing what I have learned in the last couple of years – so that all of the things on your list are staples in our diet.

    Thanks for such a great list! 🙂

    • Megan Lyons

      Haha, OK, ice cream might not have the health benefits, but I firmly believe in the mental health benefits of consuming it at least once in a while :). I am with you in that I limited healthy fats for a while … I didn’t really avoid them, but the thought of eating a spoonful of almond butter out of the jar (like I do now!) would have left me gasping in horror. Times change, and we continue learning more about nutrition and our own bodies, which is the entire goal!

  3. Sara @ LovingOnTheRun

    My favorite on that list would HAVE to be almonds.I love them! We always have them on hand for a healthy snack option. Great post Megan!

    • Megan Lyons

      One of the things I miss most from my food intolerance elimination plan is almonds! Only 5 more weeks until I can add them back in 🙂

  4. Karen

    This post was the best!!! Very interesting information. Thanks Megan.
    I wish EVERYONE had access to this post.

    • Michael Anderson

      So true Karen – I shared it on Facebook, because everyone should check this post out!

      I think that some people are still surprised at how the foods we eat can affect so many of our internal biochemical processes – it isn’t just about fuel and digestion and weight! That is why people like Megan are so important!

  5. Lauren @ Focused To Be Fit

    I like every food on the list except asparagus. I need to pass this list to my dad – he’s been super stressed with work recently. TGIF!

    • Megan Lyons

      I hope you do pass it on to your dad, Lauren, and that his stress gets under control!

  6. Michele @ paleorunningmomma

    Love this list mainly because stuff I eat every day is on it! Although that may not be a selling point given my daily temperament…at least I’m trying 🙂

    • Megan Lyons

      Haha, I agree with you, Michele! It’s great to know what we can do to be limiting our stress … of course, it doesn’t limit stress entirely.

  7. Arman @ thebigmansworld

    Actually linking this to my mum- her stress is ridiculous (she even suffered a minor stroke which came down to stress!) and I think she takes supplements and stuff she reads in the media (or stupid Dr.Oz) but I keep trying to encourage her to make amendments on a dietary side!

    Thanks as always, Meg. My pre bed dessert is a good stress relief 😉

    • Megan Lyons

      Wow, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s stress, Arman! Stress is so dangerous to all of us, and I hate that she had to endure a stroke due to it! So many people take supplements they see in the mass media, and it’s truly a bit scary. Dr. Oz just spoke at our IIN conference recently, and until then I was the BIGGEST Dr. Oz hater ever (my grandfather, who is on several medications, bought some “Dr. Oz-approved supplements” that were clearly not safe given the medications he was on, and I had to take him off them). Anyway, he said clearly that he did not endorse ANY supplement, and that any supplement claiming to have his name on it was a fraud (he is in the middle of several lawsuits). I haven’t investigated this fully yet, but if it’s true, I have more sympathy for him. Anyway, fingers crossed that your mom finds some stress relief. Let me know if I can do anything to help her!

  8. Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine

    This is great to know! The scary thing is that I already eat alot of these foods and I am still stressed…so I can’t imagine how much worse it could be if I wasn’t eating this stuff!:)
    I do feel better when I eat well, so I can definitely agree that there is a connection between healthy food and health!

    • Megan Lyons

      Lisa, I had the same exact thought … what if I DIDN’T eat these foods?!?! 🙂

  9. jill conyers

    I eat everything on the list except fish and yogurt. As stressful as my week has been I need to double up on it all! Great info.

  10. Kristen

    Great post! It’s good to know that I already love so many of these foods!

  11. Lori Hil

    Fantastic list, I am so in need of some stress-reducing foods right now! Stopping by via SITS!

  12. Victor Goguen

    Our bodies react to the food that we give it. Food is not only energy (= calories), it is also information that turns on and off gene expression. That is why we feel better and heal easier eating healthy foods.

  13. Gary

    Meg: I can’t believe that I actually now eat nine out of ten of those foods on a fairly regular basis. All of your education about these various items has not fallen on deaf ears and I do thank you you for the knowledge and the continuous encouragement your have given through this blog. Its #9 Tea that doesn’t make the cut, so I have taken it upon myself to substitute beer for tea? Hops are grains, maybe even whole grains, right?

    • Megan Lyons

      I’m impressed that you’re eating 9 of 10 foods, Gary! Well, substituting beer for tea might help your overall health, although I think a beer (or wine!) every once in a while is pretty good for mental health :).

      • Jen

        I can! But it makes me feel bloated sometimes! 🙁


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Hi! I'm Megan Lyons,

the voice behind The Lyons’ Share. I love all things health, wellness, and fitness-related, and I hope to share some of my passion with you. Thanks for stopping by!
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