Brain Food • Top 5 Foods for Stress Relief

Top 5 Foods for Stress Relief: Blueberries are an amazing brain food

We all have stressful days at work or at home. The to-do list never seems to get shorter and there are many deadlines to meet we know. During times of stress, we often just grab a slice of pizza or some other unhealthy fast food. Seriously, who has time to cook something healthy?

Studies have shown that your diet can influence your personal stress level. Therefore, eating smart can help you relax and deal better with hectic situations. The following five foods have earned the label “brain food”.

These are the best 5 foods for anxiety and stress relief: 

1. Walnuts

Walnuts are amazing for stress relief.

Nuts, and walnuts in particular, are a real power food and the ideal snack when you are stressed. Walnuts have many health benefits(1): they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce the risk of depression. Walnuts also contain tryptophan. This amino acid is used in the production of the “feel-good hormone” serotonin. Eating a handful of nuts a day is a simple way to improve your mood. And people who are happy tend to be less stressed. You can enjoy them as a snack, but you can also sprinkle them over your salad or your breakfast oatmeal.

2. Oatmeal

A bowl full of oatmeal and fruits is great for stress relief

And speaking of oatmeal… it’s much more than just the perfect breakfast for runners . If you have a busy day of meetings ahead of you, then a bowl of oatmeal is just what you need. Oatmeal is packed with fiber, which causes blood sugar levels to rise slowly and steadily rather than spiking. This means that oatmeal can keep you feeling satisfied until your lunch break.

Our tip:

Add sliced banana to your oatmeal, sprinkle some cinnamon on top and stir in a spoonful of honey. This helps reduce your stress level while strengthening your immune system at the same time.

3. Green leafy vegetables

Green leafy vegetables help to relieve stress

When you don’t have much time for lunch, it’s really tempting to just get a pizza or burger delivered. But next time try eating a salad. Why? Green leafy vegetables like spinach contain plenty of folic acid. Your body needs this B vitamin to build the neurotransmitter dopamine, which can help relieve and ease symptoms of depression. Also, a light salad won’t sit heavy in your stomach like a greasy burger. You’ll feel more energized in the afternoon and cope with stressful situations better.

4. Blueberries

Mix a smoothie with berries and blueberries. The fruits are great for stress relief.

How do you feel about blueberries? The deep purple fruit is especially high in anthocyanins (antioxidants). These have been found to have many benefits for your health, especially in terms of stress relief. Blueberries also contain vitamin C, which boosts your immune system. Fact: people who are stressed tend to be sick more often. Can’t find fresh blueberries at the supermarket? Then use frozen blueberries and mix them in with your warm oatmeal.

5. Dark chocolate

A bar of dark chocolate can help to relieve stress.

Ever heard the saying, “A piece of chocolate a day, keeps the doctor away”? There actually seems to be some truth to this, at least in terms of dark chocolate.(2) The polyphenols (phytochemicals) contained in cocoa beans are shown to reduce the level of stress hormones (especially cortisol) in your blood. So the next time you are up to your neck in work, enjoy the sensation of a piece of dark chocolate (minimum 70% cacao) melting in your mouth.

In a nutshell:

If your daily life is stressful and chaotic right now, try increasing your intake of these 5 foods for stress relief. It’s a positive twist to stress eating! 


Julia Denner Julia is a dietician and sports nutritionist. Before she began her position as Communications Specialist at Runtastic, she spent several years working as a dietician in the surgical department at Vienna General Hospital. Julia is passionate about inspiring others to eat a healthy, balanced diet. View all posts by Julia Denner