9 Foods That Calm Your Nerves – and Mind

Many of us operate in high gear much of the day, putting out small (and large) fires, juggling schedules, dealing with traffic and generally trying to keep our lives and that of our families in order. Even when our days and nights arenít streaming at a high pitch, levels of the stress hormone cortisol can remain elevated because we often fail to effectively manage stress and return to a state of tranquility.

Several health dangers exist in the presence of†high cortisol. One is that it triggers food cravings, which can send us dashing to the freezer for the ice cream or the cupboard for a box of cookies. That same cortisol can also prompt an enzyme in fat cells to transform cortisone into more cortisol. The fat cells in the abdomen have more cortisol receptors than do regular fat cells, which means high cortisol can translate into more belly fat, which in turn raises the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Certain foods can help restore calm in your life. Iím not talking about comfort foods, which we turn to when we need emotional numbing and that provide only a temporary, even fleeting sense of peace. In fact, we often feel guilty or angry with ourselves after downing a pint of ice cream or an entire bag of chips.

What Iím talking about are foods that have an ability to calm you because of their nutritional content (e.g., folate, which is a super stress reducer) or the steady energy they provide. They are balancing foods that can assist in relieving stress and restoring internal equilibrium. Include these foods as much as possible in your diet and find some creative ways to enjoy them even more.

1. Asparagus

These noble stalks are rich in folate. A†study†of 2608 adults found that people who ate the most foods high in folate had a lower risk of depression than those who consumed the least amount.

2. Avocados

Not only do avocados have more folate than any other fruit, they also contain healthy fats and potent antioxidants such as glutathione, lutein, beta-carotene, and vitamin E, which fight cell-damaging free radicals. Alas, they are also a bit high in calories, but even a few thin slices in a salad (leafy greensómore calming foods!) or in a sandwich are all you need!

3. Berries

Berries are a super source of vitamin C, which has a long history as a stress reducer. For example, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled†study, 500 mg of vitamin C was found to reduce anxiety in high school students. Another†study†found that vitamin C was effective in reducing anxiety in people with type 2 diabetes.

4. Chamomile tea

This herbal tea is a tried, true, and tested way to help achieve a sense of calm. Two studies from the University of Pennsylvania study help illustrate this benefit. In the original 2009†study, 57 adults with anxiety or anxiety and depression were given either chamomile extract or placebo for 8 weeks, and there was a clear anti-anxiety benefit seen in those who took the chamomile. In a 2012 follow-up†study, researchers determined that chamomile also provided an antidepressant benefit along with reducing anxiety.

You can enjoy chamomile tea by pouring 8 ounces of boiling water over 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons of dried chamomile (or buy chamomile in tea bags) and steep for 10 minutes. Chamomile tea is also great served over ice.

5. Dark chocolate†

You may heave a sigh of relief when you came to this food. It turns out that†dark chocolate†is more than a comfort food; it can†boost serotonin†levels as well as reduce blood pressure and provide a significant amount of antioxidants in the form of flavonols and polyphenols. Moderation is the key when it comes to chocolate, however, so be sure to indulge in small amounts infrequently.

6. Fermented foods

A healthy gut can mean a healthier and calmer brain. Thatís because thereís a direct connection (brain-gut axis) between these two regions of the body. Therefore,†fermented foods†that contain reliable sources of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) can have a direct impact on brain chemistry via your vagus nerve. In fact, a new (September 2016)†review†from Canada noted ďapparent psychological benefits from probiotic supplementation.Ē Be sure to choose foods with verifiable amounts of probiotics or even better, make your own fermented veggies, kefir, sauerkraut, and yogurt.

Read more on eating leafy vegetables to promote good digestion

7. Leafy greens

Kale, spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, and others leafy greens are excellent sources of folate and magnesium, another calming nutrient. If you make a salad with leafy greens, asparagus, and a few slices of avocado, youíll have a super stress-reducing entree on your hands!

8. Oatmeal

You might say†oatmeal†reduces stress in two ways. One, itís inexpensive and easy to make, so you donít spend a lot of prep time. Two, it prompts your brain to make the calming neurotransmitter called serotonin. Enjoy a bowl of oatmeal with a handful of berries and youíll have double the soothing power.

Read about the seeds of life

9. Seeds

Chia, sunflower, flax, hemp, sesameóseeds provide lots of magnesium, which is a precursor for serotonin. Research also shows that a magnesium deficiency is associated with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. For example, a study in†Nutrition Neuroscience†found that taking magnesium was associated with lower depression symptoms. Another study among 5,708 adults showed a relationship between magnesium intake and depression. Toss some seeds into your leafy greens salad, stir them into your oatmeal, blend them in your smoothie, and enjoy them as a snack!

Written by Deborah Mitchell. Reposted with permission from†Naturally Savvy.†


Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill1 years ago


Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran1 years ago


Peggy B.
Peggy B1 years ago

Except for the avacados I eat at least one or two from this list daily.

Peggy B.
Peggy B1 years ago

I should be really chilled.......

Jennifer F.
Jennifer F1 years ago

Read this info before and enjoyed reading it again! Love most of it but at a limit of course.

Cindy M. Dutka
Cindy M. D1 years ago

This is great information. Fortunately for me I love the foods on the list and eat most of them, especially dark chocolate, blueberries, and sunflower and sesame seeds. It makes me happy to know I am doing something right for myself. Thank you so much for posting this.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

JD She
JD She1 years ago


Janis K.
Janis K1 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Naomi Dreyer
Naomi Dreyer1 years ago

Thank you, thank you, thank you!