Stress: it seems like everyone is experiencing it, and based on data from the American Institute of Stress, stress is certainly on the rise and is taking both an emotional and physical toll. Their research showed that 49% of adults stated that their behavior has been negatively affected by the increased stress. Needless to say, we all need to channel our inner calm! The good news? There are so many ways to seamlessly sneak stress-busting techniques into your daily routine — from exercise and meditation to fine-tuning your sleep and work schedule, a calmer, healthier you is within reach.
But, did you know that utilizing food can be another powerful resource and tool to help you manage and lessen feelings of stress? There are so many foods with research-backed benefits for stress. Whether it’s supporting a healthy gut or fueling your mind and body with stress-busting vitamins and minerals, staving off stress with your diet is easier than you think.
Ahead, learn more about stress-busting foods, plus why blending some of these ingredients into a stress-relieving smoothie may be a beneficial addition to your current wellness routine.
RELATED: 7 Stress-Busting Foods: Expert Approved
What Are Stress-Relieving Foods?
Stress-relieving foods are packed with a spectrum of essential nutrients to help your brain combat the physiological experience of anxiety and stress. There are a few key nutrients that have been found through research that help to decrease anxiety and stress in both human and rat models. Let’s take a look at some specific ingredients and how they can help you manage your stress and anxiety.
Stress-Relieving Smoothie Ingredients
Whether you’re loading up your smoothie with cashew milk, cashew butter, or raw cashews, these creamy nuts make a yummy and healthy stress-busting addition to any smoothie. Cashews are rich in zinc and magnesium, both of which have been linked to help lower feelings of stress and anxiety. Magnesium has been shown to be a major player in helping to regulate specific neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for our mood. In times of stress, magnesium is excreted by the body, making magnesium something to replenish, particularly in times of stress. Pumpkin seeds are also an excellent source of both zinc and magnesium and can easily be added to smoothies.
Here are some combinations to try:
- Raw cashews + frozen strawberries + banana + vanilla extract + non-dairy milk
- Cocoa + cashew butter + cashew milk + banana + spinach
- Blueberries + chia seeds + cashew butter + cashew milk
Leafy greens are incredibly nutrient-dense and will give you the array of nutrients that your mental health needs to thrive. Like cashews and pumpkin seeds, spinach is packed with magnesium. Spinach is also plentiful in Vitamin C, making spinach an excellent anti-inflammatory food. This is important because anxiety is thought to be correlated with a low total antioxidant state, which necessitates the need for adding more anti-inflammatory foods in your diet when you are experiencing stress. Plus, you can’t taste it! The perfect stress-busting addition for picky eaters.
Ready for a green pick-me-up? Try these yummy blends:
- Spinach + mango + coconut water + ginger + pineapple
- Banana + spinach + cacao + non-dairy milk + nut butter
- Berries + spinach + oat milk + rolled oats + flax seed
Berries are the perfect addition to any smoothie because of their high antioxidant content, including phenolic compounds and Vitamin C, helping to lower levels of inflammation in the body and brain. Try switching up your berries (with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries) — this will allow you to soak up all their diverse nutrients!
Here are some delicious berry blends:
- Frozen berries + almond milk + splash of full-fat coconut milk + ground flax + almond butter + cinnamon + optional spinach and cinnamon
- Greek or coconut yogurt + frozen berries + honey + cinnamon + chia seeds + non-dairy milk
- Kale + banana + avocado + frozen berries + non-dairy milk + optional almond butter
Cacao and dark chocolate are rich in flavonoids, plant compounds that have been shown to give us health benefits. They are also abundant in magnesium and zinc, making them a perfect stress-relieving food addition to your smoothie. Try adding a handful of raw cacao nibs or a tablespoon of unsweetened cacao powder for a healthy chocolate boost!
Try these blends, featuring cacao:
- Cacao + peanut butter + banana + non-dairy milk
- Almond butter + cacao + frozen blueberries + spinach + non-dairy milk
- Avocado + almond butter + cacao + protein powder + almond milk + vanilla extract + cinnamon
Another perfect anti-inflammatory food to add to your smoothie is avocado as they are packed with magnesium and healthy fats. Avocados also contain an array of B vitamins, which are particularly important for your mood and overall mental health. Try adding frozen avocado cubes to your smoothie for added creaminess.
Here are some delicious combos to try:
- Almond butter + avocado + cacao + banana + optional spinach
- Almond milk + avocado + spinach + mixed berries + flax or hemp seeds
- Banana + avocado + honey + almond milk + hemp seeds
Yogurt contains helpful bacteria that improve the health of our gut as well as our mental health as there is a strong connection between our gut health and our mental wellbeing. One study from 2017 reports that consuming more fermented foods such as yogurt was associated with lower levels of social anxiety. Other foods rich in probiotics may also help to decrease levels of inflammation in the body.
Here are some gut-healthy smoothie blends to try:
- Greek or coconut yogurt + mixed tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, papaya, banana) + oat or coconut milk
- Strawberry + banana + chia seeds + Greek or coconut yogurt + almond milk
- Greek yogurt + oranges + vanilla extract + vanilla almond milk
From warming oat-filled breakfast bowls to easy-prep overnight oats, there are so many ways to enjoy oats for breakfast. Thanks to their many nutrients, they’re great for boosting your overall health! Rich in complex carbs and fiber, oats can help to balance your blood sugar, and aid gut health, two very important factors when it comes to supporting your body and combatting stress. Plus, oats are loaded with energy-boosting nutrients (like B vitamins and minerals such as iron, and magnesium) that can help support your mood and prevent fatigue!
Try these oat-based smoothie blends:
- Strawberries + raspberries + rolled oats + chia seeds + protein powder + almond milk + optional spinach
- Almond or oat milk + almond butter + rolled oats + cinnamon + apple
- Greek or coconut yogurt + rolled oats + blueberries or strawberries + chia seeds + honey
In addition to coloring your smoothie with a beautiful green hue, matcha offers major stress support. For starters, unlike coffee, matcha offers a steady stream of energy without the jitters or afternoon crash.
Plus, thanks to its powerful antioxidants (namely ECEG, an inflammation-busting plant compound found in matcha) this vibrant green powder comes with some anti-inflammatory properties.
Here are some ways to enjoy a matcha-filled smoothie:
- Banana + honey + matcha + spinach + almond milk
- Matcha + wild blueberries + banana + oat milk + optional yogurt
- Almond milk + avocado + frozen mango + matcha + spinach
Beets might seem like an unusual smoothie ingredient, but they’re actually a yummy addition with a little know-how! And, thanks to their rich folate levels, they make a great stress-busting addition. Folate has been shown to benefit mental and cognitive health.
Plus, beets are an amazing all-natural energy booster (the perfect pre-workout pick-me-up). Try skipping your afternoon coffee for a beet-infused smoothie — you’ll avoid that cortisol spike and crash (and thus, support your stress)!
Here’s how to enjoy them in your smoothie:
- Strawberries + banana + beets + almond milk + flax + cinnamon + option for lemon + fresh ginger
- Beets + Greek yogurt + almond butter + cacao + cinnamon + vanilla extract + cauliflower rice (to thicken) + almond milk
- Cherries + beets + banana + almond or cashew butter + almond milk + optional protein powder
As the king of spices, this anti-inflammatory powerhouse has the ability to quell stress and help you reconnect with your inner calm. According to research, curcumin — the active ingredient in turmeric — may help with stress. A sprinkle in your smoothie goes a long way!
Here’s how to enjoy this golden spice in your blend:
- Pineapple + banana + fresh or ground turmeric + fresh or ground ginger + non-dairy milk
- Coconut water + kale + pineapple + turmeric + ginger + chia seeds + optional banana
- Mixed berries + ground turmeric + oat or almond milk + almond butter + baby spinach or kale + yogurt or banana + honey
Mix and Match to Make a Delicious Stress-Relieving Smoothie
Ready to incorporate some of these delicious foods into your diet? I would encourage you to experiment by adding different combinations of these foods with other fruits and leafy greens to get the perfect stress-relieving smoothie that your brain and your taste buds love.
This is my go-to smoothie.
- 1 cup of almond milk
- One handful of spinach
- One tablespoon of cacao powder
- One handful of blueberries
- ½ of a banana
Blend and enjoy!
Supercharge Your Diet With Stress-Busting Foods
While we often think about the role food plays in our physical wellbeing, research also shows a connection between certain foods and mental wellness. Consider supercharging your diet with these stress-relieving foods by starting with a simple daily smoothie. It’s a quick and easy addition to a healthy eating plan that may make a big impact.
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