Foods That Reduce Stress and Depression

Foods That Reduce Stress and Depression

Many of the symptoms of depression can be directly linked to vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the standard American diet, which is largely comprised of empty carbs, caffeine, and sugar. Depression, mood swings and fatigue often have a common cause: poor nutrition. While sometimes medication is also necessary, avoiding depression or recovering from a depressive episode can sometimes be helped by changing your diet and boosting your consumption of key foods that deliver brain-boosting nutrients and help regulate brain chemistry.

Since our mood can be directly related to what we eat, when you are too busy and tired or feel stressed out; it is tempting to grab refined carbohydrates and eat them in uncontrollable quantities. Instead of reaching a candy bar or dishing out a big bowl of ice cream to make you “feel” better, try some of these foods mentioned below. These particular comfort foods provide vitamins and minerals for our bodies. The first five are reportedly the best, says There are 20 more from But of course, each body is unique so let your body be your guide as to if these foods are compatible with you.

  1. Fish oils: Contain omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that depressed people often lack a fatty acid known as EPA. Participants in a 2002 study featured in the Archives of General Psychiatry took just a gram of fish oil each day and noticed a 50-percent decrease in symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disorders, unexplained feelings of sadness, suicidal thoughts, and decreased sex drive. Omega-3 fatty acids can also lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health. Get omega-3s through walnuts, flaxseed and oily fish like salmon or tuna. Another top food for delivering omega-3 fatty acids is chia.


  1. Brown Rice: Contains vitamins B1 and B3, and folic acid. Brown rice is also a low-glycemic food, which means it releases glucose into the bloodstream gradually, preventing sugar lows and mood swings. Brown rice also provides many of the trace minerals we need to function properly, as well as being a high-fiber food that can keep the digestive system healthy and lower cholesterol. Instant varieties of rice do not offer these benefits. Any time you see “instant” on a food label, avoid it.

Brewer’s Yeast: Contains vitamins B1, B2, and B3. Brewer’s yeast should be avoided if you do not tolerate yeast well, but if you do, mix a thimbleful into any smoothie for your daily dose. This superfood packs a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals in a small package, including 16 amino acids and 14 minerals. Amino acids are vital for the nervous system, which makes brewer’s yeast a no-brainer for treating depression.

  1. Whole-grain oats: Contain folic acid, pantothenic acid, and vitamins B6 and B1. Oats help lower cholesterol, are soothing to the digestive tract and help avoid the blood sugar crash-and-burn that can lead to crabbiness and mood swings. Other whole grains such as Kamut, spelt and quinoa are also excellent choices for delivering brain-boosting nutrients and avoiding the pitfalls of refined grains such as white flour.
  2. Cabbage: Contains vitamin C and folic acid. Cabbage protects against stress, infection and heart disease, as well as many types of cancers, according to the American Association for Cancer Research. There are numerous ways to get cabbage into your diet; toss it in a salad instead of lettuce, use cabbage in place of lettuce wraps, stir fry it in your favorite Asian dish, make some classic cabbage soup or juice it. To avoid gas after eating cabbage, add a few fennel, caraway or cumin seeds before cooking. Cabbage is also a good source of blood-sugar-stabilizing fiber, and the raw juice of cabbage is a known cure for stomach ulcers.
  3. Fruits and Veggies

Oranges are very rich in vitamin C and have the added benefit of being totally portable. Stress makes our body release even more free radicals than when we are in good mood. Interestingly, vitamin C helps to keep the free radicals in control and repairs the body. Basically, it helps protect the body from the cumulative effects of stress.


Bananas are filled with potassium, the mineral essential to the regulation of blood pressure (which can soar when you’re stressed). Bananas are also great in pacifying and soothing the mind since they are rich in tryptophan known as an amino acid which boosts the formation of serotonin hormone (makes you feel good) and melatonin hormone (makes you sleep well).


Spinach and Broccoli

Nutrition experts advise us to take enough magnesium in our daily meals to avoid migraine headaches and a feeling of fatigue. One cup of spinach provides 40 percent of your daily needs for magnesium. Broccoli contains lots of vitamins that help replenish our bodies in times under pressure. This stress-relieving food is the same as spinach which is a great source of magnesium. It is also rich in vitamin B, especially folic acid which helps relieve anxiety, panic, and even depression.


The monounsaturated fats and potassium in avocados help lower blood pressure. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says that one of the best ways to lower blood pressure is to consume enough potassium (avocados have more than bananas). Moreover, it is also rich in glutathione, a substance that specifically blocks the intestinal absorption of certain fats that cause oxidative damage.


Blueberries are crammed with antioxidants and vitamin C, which are potent stress busters. Antioxidants fight free radicals that damage your cells and also help to repair and protect your body from the effects of stress. As an added bonus, they’re low in calories, so they won’t make you blimp-like.

Blueberries are also a good source of fiber, which can help relieve the cramps and constipation that can occur in times of tension. Mix the little suckers with some cottage cheese or eat them on their own as a snack or dessert.


  1. Other foods like raw cacao, dark molasses and brazil nuts, green, ginger and chamomile tea, salmon, grass-fed beef, dark chocolate, cashews, walnuts and almonds, and garlic.


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Sarah Anne Edwards, LCSW, PhD Psychologist
Emotional Ditress, Trauma, Grief & Loss. Adults, Children, Teens
661 242-2624

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