If you feel stressed, it is natural to seek relief.
While occasional bouts of stress are difficult to avoid, chronic stress can seriously affect your physical and emotional health. In fact, it can increase your risk of diseases like heart disease and depression
Interestingly, certain foods and drinks can have stress-relieving qualities.
Here are 4 stress-relieving foods and drinks to add to your diet.
1. Matcha powder
This vibrant green tea powder is popular with health enthusiasts because it is rich in L-theanine, a non-protein amino acid with powerful stress-relieving properties.
Matcha is a better source of this amino acid than other types of green tea, as it is made from green tea leaves grown in the shade. This process increases your content of certain compounds, including L-Theanine.
Both human and animal studies show that matcha can reduce stress if its L-theanine content is high enough and its caffeine is low.
For example, in a 15-day study, 36 people ate cookies containing 4.5 grams of matcha powder each day. They experienced significantly reduced activity of the salivary stress marker alpha-amylase, compared to a placebo group.
2. Swiss chard
Swiss chard is a green leafy vegetable that is packed with stress-fighting nutrients.
Just 1 cup (175 grams) of cooked Swiss chard contains 36% of the recommended intake of magnesium, which plays an important role in the body’s response to stress.
Low levels of this mineral are associated with conditions such as anxiety and panic attacks. Additionally, chronic stress can deplete your body’s magnesium stores, making this mineral especially important when you’re stressed.
3. Sweet potatoes
Eating nutrient-rich, whole carbohydrate sources like sweet potatoes can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Although cortisol levels are tightly regulated, chronic stress can lead to cortisol dysfunction, which can cause inflammation, pain, and other adverse effects.
An 8-week study in overweight or obese women found that those who ate a diet rich in nutrient-dense whole-grain carbohydrates had significantly lower levels of salivary cortisol than those who followed a standard American diet high in refined carbohydrates.
Sweet potatoes are a whole food that is an excellent carbohydrate choice. They are packed with nutrients that are important for the stress response, such as vitamin C and potassium.
Kimchi is a fermented vegetable dish typically made with napa cabbage and daikon, a type of radish. Fermented foods like kimchi are packed with beneficial bacteria called probiotics and high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Research reveals that fermented foods can help reduce stress and anxiety. For example, in a study of 710 young adults, those who ate fermented foods more frequently experienced fewer symptoms of social anxiety.
Many other studies show that probiotic supplements and probiotic-rich foods like kimchi have beneficial effects on mental health. This is likely due to its interactions with gut bacteria, which directly affect your mood.
Many foods contain nutrients that can help you reduce stress.
Matcha powder, fatty fish, kimchi, garlic, chamomile tea, and broccoli are just a few that can help.
Try incorporating some of these foods and drinks into your diet to naturally promote stress relief.