Decompression Session: Comfort Foods that Reduce Stress

Welcome to our helpful, if slightly corny, list of foods to bring your body and mind comfort when you’re stressed. Stress is normal in small amounts, but when it starts to be more than you can handle, integrating a few foods to your palate will help you consume your stress before it consumes you.

These easily obtained vittles may also contribute to your overall health, but have particular benefits when it comes to promoting relaxation and focus, backed by science. Many of these foods can find their way into larger meals or eaten as a booster snack when you need it. (Pizza didn’t make the list, sorry.)

Dark Chocolate: Yum! A small amount of dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher) is very literally a decompression food because it can dilate your blood vessels, which will lower pressure on your vascular system. And many chocolate lovers report an emotional reward: euphoria. Think of it like a “runners high,” except all you have to move is your hand to your mouth.       

Oysters: Unexpected? Here’s why swallowing some of this delicacy made our list: Zinc. Zinc is an immune booster and an anti-inflammatory, which is why it’s many people’s first stop in the supplements aisle when common-cold season kicks off. Even if you’re feeling fine, a half dozen crustaceans contains approximately 400% of your daily Zinc recommendation. Aw, shucks!

Beets: This earthy, garnet-hued root vegetable is a great source of folate. Folate deficiency can create fogginess and fatigue, making work and study all the more arduous. It can also counteract other folate-depleters like certain medications. So add a little vibrant color to your next salad, and feel a little more vibrant yourself as a result.

Pistachios: Pistachios can take your blood pressure and an overactive pulse down a notch in more ways than one. First, they contain phytonutrients that support vascular health. Shelling pistachios has another benefit: the small repetitive movement of pulling apart a pistachio, nut by nut, can also be very meditative, with a delicious reward after each satisfying crack. Plus, we think they’re kind of cute.

Oranges: The almighty orange is a well-known source of vitamin C, with all its abundant benefits. One of these is that it can keep your cortisol levels in check. Sustained high cortisol levels can send your appetite into overdrive and lead to weight gain, have negative effects on your mood, and affect your digestion, sleeping, and more. Orange you glad we told you that?

Seaweed: This one’s for all you sushi lovers out there. Not only are most rolls wrapped in seaweed paper anyway but adding a small side of seaweed salad to your order can give you a whopping 275% of your daily iodine requirement. Iodine deficiency can make you feel tired or depressed, and since it’s not commonly found in foods, consider making seaweed your source. Arigato, sushi!

As any nutritionist will tell you, the list of foods that reduce stress doesn’t end here. For the stress-busting epicure, there are great resources you can easily find online or in books. Munch on some of the above while you do!

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