Grab These Snacks For Some Instant Stress Relief

These days, it feels impossible to not be stressed. Between our daily lives and the increasingly negative media reports, settling our nerves can feel unachievable. But,… Trista - December 14, 2022

These days, it feels impossible to not be stressed. Between our daily lives and the increasingly negative media reports, settling our nerves can feel unachievable. But, we know stress can harm our brains and our bodies. And stress can also increase our risk of heart disease and depression. So finding solutions to de-stress is extremely important. However, when you’re living life, finding time for a spa day or beach vacation can be tricky. Luckily, most people can make time for a snack. And some snacks can help alleviate that stress. That’s a win-win. Reading through this list will make you hungry. So get ready to head to the supermarket, fill your tummy, and taste your troubles slipping away. Here are some foods and drinks to relax your shoulders and instantly take you to your happy place.

These cookies help relax you with science. Source: Recipe

Matcha Cookies

In a study over 15 days, 36 people ate cookies containing 4.5 grams of matcha powder every day. They found a decrease in the stress marker, salivary alpha-amylase, compared with the placebo group. Matcha is a vibrant green powder derived from specific green tea leaves grown in the shade. It is popular among health enthusiasts because it has a lot of L-theanine, a non-protein amino acid with intense stress-relieving properties. Matcha is actually a better source of this amino acid than other types of green tea because the growing process increases the content of L-theanine, among other compounds. Human and animal studies alike have proved that matcha may reduce stress if the L-theanine content of the powder is high enough and the caffeine content is low.

Have a snack that helps with stress eating. Source: Today


Avocados, made famous by millennials, are no surprise on this list. Studies have shown that consuming regular portions of avocado can help reduce stress by filling you faster and making you feel more satisfied than with other snacks. Nutrient Journal published a snack study in 2014 with avocados as the primary focus. Researchers found that participants who added half of an avocado to their lunch had a 40% reduction in their desire to eat more for the three hours immediately following their midday meal. Feeling fuller will make you less likely to want a candy bar later in the day when your stress kicks in, giving you one less thing to stress out about.

Introducing a hero by the name of chard. Source: Cook Gem

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable (don’t scroll yet) full of stress-relieving nutrition. Even just a cup, or 175 grams, of cooked Swiss chard contains 36% of the recommended daily dose of magnesium, a mineral that can majorly affect your body’s stress response. Conditions like panic attacks and anxiety go hand-in-hand with lower magnesium levels. Being stressed eats away your body’s magnesium stores. Researchers link low levels of this mineral to conditions such as panic attacks and anxiety. This makes magnesium abundantly valuable when you’re feeling stressed. Keep reading to learn more about more snacks that provide instant stress relief.

Just keep swimming. Source: Recipe

Fatty Fish

Stress can increase the number of anxiety hormones in your body, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Fatty fish like salmon can reduce the levels of these hormones, resulting in less stress and improvement of overall mood. Lisa Cimperman, a registered dietitian and senior medical science liaison at Albireo Pharma, told Health magazine in 2022 that “The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon have the anti-inflammatory properties that may help counteract the negative effects of stress hormones.” Omega-3 fats are not only essential for brain health, but they also help your body manage stress. Low omega-3 can lead to increased depression and anxiety, two significant stress risks. In an earlier study published in 2021 in Molecular Psychiatry, researchers found that omega-3 can reduce overall levels of cortisol. This is the primary stress hormone. It can reduce it up to 33% compared to the placebo group. These fish also contain high levels of Vitamin D, which plays a vital role in overall health as well as in fighting stress.

Don’t get it stuck in your teeth, though. Source: TikTok


We all know parsley is that pretty green stuff on food served by restaurants. However, did you know it’s also an herb with tons of antioxidants? Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize unstable molecules — aka free radicals. They also help to protect us against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress goes hand-in-hand with many illnesses and ailments, such as mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. Studies have shown that a diet packed with antioxidants can help you prevent stress and anxiety. Antioxidants also help reduce inflammation, a condition many people suffer from chronic stress. Parsley is also rich in carotenoids, flavonoids, and volatile oils, all of which have their own high antioxidant properties.

Yogurt is good for gut health and more. Source: Paws Daily


This might sound crazy, but gut bacteria could increase stress levels. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, your brain and gut communicate through chemicals in the body, and your gut microbiota may affect your emotions and even your behavior! As an example, the probiotic bacteria by the name of Lactobacillus rhamnosus contains a neurotransmitter called GABA that helps to regulate brain activity and can also calm anxiety. In a study published in 2019 in Frontiers in Psychiatry, researchers divided 38 healthy volunteers into two groups. The first was a control group, and the second was the experimental group. The experimental group consumed a daily probiotic mixture containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacterial strains daily. Six weeks later, the researchers discovered a significant improvement in the mood of the experimental group and a reduced level of depressive mood state, anger, and tiredness. They also found an improvement in the quality of their sleep. The study was pretty small, so we are looking forward to more research to confirm the results-but when you consider the other benefits of yogurt, like calcium and protein, in addition to probiotics, it seems clear that yogurt can be a great snack.

This may actually cause stress if consumed before a date. Source: The Tab


Garlic girlies of the world, rejoice! This food may be a tremendous stress-relieving snack. It is high in sulfur compounds that help increase levels of glutathione, and this antioxidant is a major stress fighter. In animal studies, it has been suggested that garlic can help fight stress and also reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Garlic is also widely recognized for its ability to fight bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even parasites. One study found that allicin, an active component of freshly crushed garlic, had antiviral properties and was also effective against a broad range of bacteria, including multidrug-resistant strains of E. coli. We still need more research on humans but keep calm and enjoy garlic.

Be like Mike and just beet it. Source: Eat This Not That


Beets have grown in popularity over the years, becoming a favorite of health nuts and crunchy people everywhere, and it is easy to see why. They contain a high amount of folate, a vitamin that plays a role in relieving stress. According to Healthline, one cup of beets can supply up to 37% of the folate you need daily. Because of its like with the nervous system, low levels of folate have been known to trigger mental fatigue, forgetfulness, confusion, and even insomnia. Several common medications can eat away at your body’s folate levels, including drugs that lower cholesterol, anti-inflammatory drugs, diabetes medications, and birth control pills.

Here’s a nutty suggestion for stress relief. PS – these came out of the air fryer. Source: Fork to Spoon


Just an ounce of this delicious, rich nut contains 1.6 milligrams (mg) of zinc. That’s around 13% of the recommended daily value for females, according to the National Institutes of Health. Zinc, a mineral, is essential to our bodies and can help alleviate anxiety. In 2019, a study published in Current Developments in Nutrition found that daily use of multivitamins and mineral supplements can improve anxiety symptoms in young adults between the ages of 18-24. If you think you’re already getting enough zinc, cashews (or other zinc-rich foods, including oysters, yogurt, and beef) may not help your mood. However, cashews also contain omega-3s and are packed with protein, making them a great snack in any situation. Keep reading to learn more about more snacks that provide instant stress relief.

Enjoy this relaxing breakfast food in a variety of yummy flavors. Source: Recipes from a Pantry


If you like having sugary cereal, or a doughnut for breakfast, try oatmeal instead. It can be the best breakfast choice when stress hits. Prepared oatmeal can also be a good source of tryptophan, with 147 milligrams per cup. Tryptophan, also found in turkey, is an amino acid needed to grow and maintain your body’s proteins, muscles, enzymes, and neurotransmitters. It also aids in the production of the stress-relieving chemical serotonin. UC San Diego Health says tryptophan alone isn’t enough to make serotonin. You also need to eat carbs in order to allow the tryptophan to pass the blood-brain barrier. Next time you’re craving Cocoa Puffs or Krispy Kreme, grab a bowl of brown-sugar oatmeal instead and feel the effects of relaxing serotonin. Stress can cause your blood sugar to go up, so a complex carb like oatmeal won’t add to your potential rise in glucose.

A different kind of nightcap. Source: Eat This Not That


Instead of a beer or glass of wine in the evening, grab a cup of tea. If you’re really looking to relax, chamomile tea is the way to go. It is a healthier way to unwind. Chamomile promotes relaxation and sleepiness and can enhance and improve sleep quality. Good sleep is vital in fighting stress, and sleep also helps optimize immune function, which can be weakened by stress. But be careful. Those with severe seasonal allergies (particularly ragweed) may not tolerate it well, nor should you drink it while pregnant, or if you’re taking blood thinners.

Crack this nut to kill stress. Source: Healthline


If you have spiraling, ongoing loops of negative thoughts going around in your brain, making a repetitive motion with your hands can help quiet that inner monologue. Like crocheting or kneading bread, shelling pistachios or peanuts can help you relax your mind. The added step of cracking each individual shell slows down the pace of your eating, which also allows people who suffer from stress-eating. Even better than that, pistachios can improve your heart health as well. An article written in 2015 by the British Journal of Nutrition showed that pistachios contain high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory potential. “Eating pistachios may reduce acute stress by lowering blood pressure and heart rate,” said Mangieri. “The nuts contain key phytonutrients that may provide antioxidant support for cardiovascular health.”

A stress-free, salty sea snack. Source: Recipe


If you love sushi, today’s your lucky day! Your cali roll is wrapped in seaweed, giving you the added benefit of stress relief. “Seaweed is rich in iodine and one of the few sources of this important mineral,” Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, a contributing nutrition editor, told Health magazine. Too little iodine can trigger fatigue and depression, but just a quarter cup of seaweed salad can pack over 275% of the daily value. This one will also come with a bit of a warning: It is possible to eat too much seaweed. Since it contains large amounts of iodine, which can affect thyroid health. A small 2020 study suggests that consuming seaweed may cause high iodine exposure, which can lead to a thyroid condition. A 2019 review notes that seaweed may also contain heavy metals.

Is this why rabbits always seem so chill? Source: Mashed

Leafy Greens

Instead of pizza or takeout for lunch when you’re stressed, go green. “Green leafy vegetables like spinach contain folate, which produces dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical, helping you keep calm,” Heather Mangieri, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Health. A scientific study in 2022 published in the Journal of Affective Disorders looked at over 14,500 people. It found a significant inverse relationship between depression and increased intake of selenium, zinc, and B vitamins, including folate. This means these vitamins and minerals were helping reduce depression in the subjects studied. Additionally, a 2018 study published in Frontiers in Psychology discovered that students who attend college feel calmer, happier, and have more energy on days they eat the most fruits and veggies.

A good egg goes a long way. Source: Kitchn


Eggs are a breakfast classic, but there’s more to them than meets the eye. “Whole eggs are one of the few natural sources of vitamin D,” said Sass. “This nutrient is linked to several important health benefits, including better immune function, anti-inflammation, and mood regulation, including reducing symptoms of depression.” A review published in 2021 in the journal Clinics said that the majority of studies looking at the link between vitamin D and mood had shown a reduction in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and mood with increased vitamin D levels.

Make sure you gobble this up at least once a year. Source: NBC


You may have already heard that the tryptophan in turkey is the culprit behind that Thanksgiving Day food coma. This amino acid aids in the production of serotonin, a chemical that regulates hunger, happy feelings, and a sense of well-being. By itself, tryptophan may have a relaxing effect. A study published in 2016 in the Archives of Psychiatric Nursing found that at high doses of dietary tryptophan, subjects showed significantly less depression and irritability and decreased anxiety. If you’re not a turkey person, fret not. Tofu, fish, lentils, oats, beans, and even eggs contain tryptophan.

Here’s one you already have in your fridge. Source: TikTok

Vitamin D

Fortified milk is a fantastic way to get vitamin D, which can boost happiness. A study that took place over 50 years by London’s UCL Institute of Child Health, published in 2013 in PLOS Medicine, found a link between lower levels of vitamin D and an increase in the risk of panic attacks and depression among 5,966 men and women. The subjects who had enough vitamin D in their system had a lower risk of panic disorders and depression compared to the men and women who had the lowest levels of vitamin D. If you have a dairy allergy or you are lactose intolerant, you’re not out of luck. Other foods contain vitamin D, so you can still unlock the stress-relieving powers of the vitamin. Some foods like salmon and egg yolks contain vitamin D, and for vegetarians and vegans, fortified cereal will also get you your daily dose.

Try these on oatmeal, muffins, or pies for some double de-stressing! Source: Gnom-Ghom


Blueberries are regarded as a superfood by many health nuts. They are rich in nutrients and antioxidants. “When you’re stressed, there’s a battle being fought inside you,” says Mangieri. “The antioxidants and phytonutrients found in berries fight in your defense, helping improve your body’s response to stress.” There has also been scientific research done to show that people who eat blueberries receive a boost in natural killer cells, which is a type of white blood cell that plays an essential role in the immune system, which is vital for fighting stress.

You know what they say? A fruit juice a day keeps the doctor away. Source: Know Your Meme

Orange Juice

Oranges are one of the top vitamin C sources and therefore are an excellent way to relax and lower stress levels. Vitamin C not only supports immune function. It can be weakened by stress leading to illness. However, this essential vitamin also helps lower the stress hormone cortisol, which can have bad effects on the body. The dangers of high levels of cortisol may include fatigue, brain fog, increased appetite, and weight gain, especially around the middle.

Try this stress-relieving snack with a partner 😉 Source: Thrillist


Oysters are known worldwide as an aphrodisiac, but did you know their high zinc content is another great reason to eat those delicious little mollusks? According to the NIH, oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food on earth. You can get up to 32 milligrams (mg) of zinc in each serving of six raw oysters, and that is up to 400% of your recommended daily allowance! Zinc is not only a great way to kick a cold, “Zinc may lower the body’s response to stress,” nutritionist Keri Gans, RD, told Health. “It’s an antioxidant, which has the ability to possibly strengthen the immune system, have anti-inflammatory properties, and in zinc specifically, it may lower the body’s response to stress and anxiety.”

Think like a bird. Source: Getty Images


Seeds like flax, pumpkin seeds or pepitas, and sunflower seeds are all excellent sources of magnesium. Magnesium can also be found in leafy greens, yogurt, nuts, and even fish. Adding more of this mineral to your diet may help you regulate your emotions. “Magnesium has been shown to help alleviate depression, fatigue, and irritability,” says Sass magazine. “Bonus: When you’re feeling especially irritable during that time of the month, the mineral also helps to fight PMS symptoms, including cramps and water retention.”

Chocolate chip cookies, anyone? Or go for a dark chocolate cupcake. Source: Two Sisters

Dark Chocolate

If you’re looking for a reason to eat chocolate every day, I’m here to give you one. Eating dark chocolate on the regular (in moderation, of course, not the whole bar) can actually have the ability to regulate your levels of stress. In a study published in 2014 by the International Journal of Health Sciences, eating 40 grams (g) or about 1.5 ounces (oz) of dark chocolate or milk chocolate every day for a period of 2 weeks lowered the levels of stress in men and women who participated in the study. It can even reduce your stress hormones, including cortisol! “Also, the antioxidants in cocoa trigger the walls of your blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation. Finally, dark chocolate contains unique natural substances that create a sense of euphoria similar to the feeling of being in love,” says Sass. Keep an eye out for chocolate that contains 70% cocoa or above.

People of the world, spice up your life. Source: Refinery29


Adding turmeric to your food doesn’t just make it taste better; it can also give you some stress relief. Turmeric will give you an extra boost of nutrients that make you feel good. In India, it was traditionally used for disorders of the skin, upper respiratory tract, joints, and digestive system. Today, turmeric is promoted as a dietary supplement for a variety of conditions, including arthritis, digestive disorders, respiratory infections, allergies, liver disease, depression, and many others. It has anti-inflammatory properties, specifically curcumin. “Curcumin is known to possibly stimulate the ‘feel-good’ hormones in our body, like serotonin and dopamine,” said Gans. “So, by default, it will probably put you in a better mood.”

Mmmm, another Thanksgiving favorite. Source: NPR

Sweet Potatoes

Get yourself an extra helping of sweet potatoes, which can help you lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body. While cortisol levels are highly regulated, chronic stress may contribute to cortisol dysfunction, leading to inflammation, pain, and other adverse effects. A study took place over the course of 8 weeks on women with excess weight or obesity. Researchers found that the participants who ate a diet heavy in nutrient-dense carbs had much lower salivary cortisol levels than those who followed a standard Western diet of high amounts of refined carbs. Sweet potatoes are a healthier alternative than other potatoes, and they also contain vitamin C and potassium, two other stress-fighting additions.

Here’s a snack that’s been around for 1500 years. Source: Today


Kimchi, a fermented vegetable dish, is typically made with napa cabbage and daikon, a type of radish. Fermented foods, including kimchi and kombucha, are full of bacteria that are good for your gut — aka probiotics. Probiotics are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Science has shown that fermented foods can aid in the reduction of stress and anxiety levels. One example is a study of 710 young adults, and the people who ate fermented foods more often than their counterparts experienced fewer symptoms of social anxiety. Many studies have proven that probiotic supplements and probiotic-rich foods like kimchi also have positive effects on mental health. This is thought to be due to their interactions with your gut bacteria, which can directly affect your mood.

Hummus asks you to relax and eat some chickpeas. Source: Plant Based with Amy


If you’ve ever tried the Mediterranean diet, you’re already familiar with chickpeas. They are full of stress-fighting vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, potassium, vitamin B, zinc, selenium, manganese, and copper. Chickpeas, a member of the legumes family, are not only delicious but also rich in L-tryptophan, the same tryptophan that makes you need that Thanksgiving nap (after eating turkey). Your body needs it for mood regulation and to produce neurotransmitters. Scientists have found that a diet that contains high levels of plant proteins, like chickpeas, can help improve the health of your brain and mental performance. They studied over 9,000 people as they followed a Mediterranean diet rich in plant foods, including legumes, and experienced better moods and less stress than those who followed a typical Western diet high in processed food.

This one brocks! Source: Narcity


Like broccoli, plants in the cabbage family are popular for their health benefits. Adding these vegetables to your diet can lower your risk of getting certain cancers, heart disease, and even mental health disorders like depression. Broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables, contain some of the highest concentrations of magnesium, vitamin C, and folate. These fight symptoms of depression. Broccoli has high sulforaphane levels. What is sulforaphane? It is a sulfur compound with neuroprotective benefits and can give a calming and antidepressant effect. Even just 1 cup (184 grams) of cooked broccoli contains over 20% of the daily recommended dose of vitamin B6, which can lower the risk of anxiety and depression in women when taken in higher amounts.

I’m pretty sure this justifies eating as much spin-art dip as you want. Source: YouTube


Another essential to the Mediterranean diet is artichokes. They are a super concentrated source of fiber and are ultra-rich in prebiotics, a kind of fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Animal studies show that prebiotics like fructooligosaccharides (FOSs), which artichokes contain high levels, can help reduce stress. In addition, one review showed that people who ingested five or more grams of prebiotics daily had lowered anxiety and depression symptoms. They also have suggested that high-quality, prebiotic-rich diets can reduce your risk of stress. Artichokes also contain high levels of potassium, magnesium, and vitamins C and K, which all help your body respond to and healthily recover from stress.

A tahini bit of this goes a long way in de-stressing. Here is a tahini sauce. Source: Recipe


Tahini, a smooth buttery spread made from sesame seeds, is another excellent source of the amino acid L-tryptophan. The body needs L-tryptophan for the mood-regulating neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Adding more tryptophan to your diet can help give you better moods and lower feelings of depression and anxiety. Researchers followed a group of 25 young men and women for four days. They noted that a diet that was high in tryptophan led to better moods and decreased anxiety. It can reduce depression symptoms when compared to a diet that was lower in amino acids.

It’s okay to be a little shellfish once in a while. Source: University of California


Shellfish like mussels, clams, and oysters are high in taurine, an amino acid that has been studied for its potential mood-boosting benefits. Taurine, as well as other amino acids, are needed in the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine. These neurotransmitters are necessary for regulating your body’s stress response, and studies have shown that taurine might have antidepressant effects. These shellfish also contain high levels of vitamin B12, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium, which are all great mood boosters! A study of 2,089 Japanese men and women showed a correlation between low zinc, copper, and manganese levels and depression and anxiety symptoms.

Add this to smoothies to give yourself a super boost of relaxation. Source: Etsy

Acerola Cherry Powder

Acerola cherries are widely regarded as containing some of the highest concentrations of vitamin C. They have 50-100% more vitamin C than citrus fruits like oranges and limes. This vitamin is an integral part of the stress response. High levels of vitamin C go hand-in-hand with better mood and lower levels of anger and sadness. Additionally, adding more vitamin C to your diet can improve your overall mood. While you can eat the cherries fresh, they go bad rather quickly. They’re most often sold in freeze-dried powder form that you can add to food and drinks.


Where Do We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

18 of the Best Stress-Relieving Foods (