5 Foods that Help Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Feeling stressed or anxious once in a while is normal. However, when you experience stress along with other similar symptoms for a prolonged period, you may be dealing with anxiety. Anxiety is a general term used to describe mood disorders such as social anxiety, phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Symptoms of anxiety include:

  • chest tightness
  • irritability
  • difficulty concentrating
  • fear
  • tension
  • muscle tension
  • excessive worry 
  • elevated heart rate or heart palpitations

These symptoms often interfere with everyday life including personal and work relationships. Chronic stress and anxiety can have negative effects on both physical and mental health, hence it is best to seek the help of a psychologist. Moreover, prolonged mental stress is a risk factor for depression and heart diseases.

When dealing with anxiety, it is important to pay attention to what you eat. Eating a healthy diet filled with certain nutrients and phytochemicals can ease anxiety, stress, and depression and promote healthy brain function. Some foods and beverages contain stress-relieving properties which can be helpful when managing stress and anxiety. Here are 5 foods that may provide anxiety and stress relief.

1. Swiss Chard

Leafy green vegetables do not only aid your physical health, they also support your mental health as they are rich in vital nutrients. Green vegetables like Swiss chard, spinach, and kale are great sources of magnesium, a mineral that plays an important role in metabolizing cortisol, reducing inflammation, and helping the body and mind relax. Swiss chard also contains folate, a vitamin that promotes brain function through the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Dopamine is proven to regulate anxiety in different parts of the brain. 

2. Kimchi

Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made of fermented vegetables such as napa cabbage, radish, carrot, and spices. Fermented foods and beverages like Kimchi and yogurt contain microbes (lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species) that may help fight anxiety and depression. Also, experts maintain that there is a strong link between your gut health and mental health. When you’re stressed, depressed, or anxious, it is not uncommon to experience stomach or intestinal distress. Gut bacteria can also create neuroactive chemicals like serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which have a favorable effect on mood. Kimchi can promote the “good bacteria” in your gut which can help reduce symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders, ultimately improving your mood and overall mental health.

3. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish can help relieve stress and protect against cardiovascular diseases. Fatty fishes such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines contain Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)). These nutrients can minimize inflammation and prevent brain cell dysfunction which is frequent in those who suffer from anxiety. In a recent study, researchers found that people who consumed Atlantic salmon 3 times per week for 5 months experienced less anxiety compared to those who ate beef, chicken, or pork. They also showed a significant decrease in anxiety-related symptoms such as heart rate variability.

4. Turmeric

Although turmeric has a history of medicinal use, its mental health-boosting capabilities are often overlooked. Curcumin, an important ingredient found in turmeric, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that curcumin may ease symptoms of depression and anxiety because it increases neurotransmitters like serotonin and lowers stress hormones like cortisol. Curcumin also prevents damage to the brain while simultaneously acting on various depression-related pathways. That said, don’t hesitate to get creative by incorporating this delicious spice into your food and beverages whenever you feel a bout of anxiety.

5. Herbal Tea

Ever wondered why Chamomile, Matcha powder, and Green tea are often the go-to beverages for many people after experiencing a stressful situation? Yes, their flavor plays a significant role. However, these herbal teas have stress-relieving properties that have positive effects on brain health. GreenTea contains L-theanine, an amino acid known to help with sleep and ease stress. L-theanine works by reducing symptoms of anxiety such as racing heartbeat. 

Chamomile is another effective tea for stress and anxiety. It is often used as a therapy for anxiety because of its apigenin content. Apigenin is a flavonoid that targets the GABA receptors of the brain to induce calmness and improve sleep quality.

Matcha powder also contains high levels of stress-relieving compounds such as L-theanine and caffeine. When combined together, L-theanine reduces the stimulating effect of caffeine to increase dopamine and serotonin which lowers stress and anxiety. 


Eating healthy is one of the safest ways to manage mental stress and anxiety. This method is not only highly effective but also provides you with useful nutrients that improve your physical health and prevent diseases. However, note that conventional treatments are not to be replaced with a healthy diet when managing chronic stress and anxiety. All must go hand-in-hand to yield long-term results. In addition to eating well, prioritize other stress management techniques such as getting quality sleep, exercising, and seeking help from a professional.