8 Top Foods that Bring Calm, Relax Muscles, and Reduce Stress

1) Magnesium-rich foods. Spinach, broccoli, lima beans, acorn squash, artichokes, green peas, swiss chard, kale.

A magnesium deficiency can cause undue stress in migraines, high blood pressure, anxiety, constipation, and muscle cramping. Foods rich in magnesium, like leafy greens, can soothe the nerves and de-stress the body so effectively that magnesium is often dubbed the “anti-stress” mineral.

It decreases the cortisol (stress) response and has a perfect balance of neurotransmitters (chemical substances that transmit nerve impulses) that help us chill out when needed.


2)   Raw Nuts and Seeds. Almonds, walnuts, brazil, pecans, flax seeds, chia, sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds.

Nuts and seeds are a great way to fuel the body in a stress-free way because they are packed with inflammation-fighting nutrients that are phenomenal for the body in more ways than one.

Nuts are rich in magnesium, selenium, zinc, and vitamin B-complex that can help relax the brain.

Not only do nuts and seeds contain a great mixture of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids, but their nutrient profiles also score high for vitamin E. This potent antioxidant helps overcome free radicals in the body.

Our stress levels can worsen when we are nutritionally deficient, particularly in zinc. Luckily, just a small handful of pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, which helps the body manage stress, balance mood and appetitive, and supports immunity.  They also taste great combined with a healthy trail mix or when used as a crunchy salad topper.


3)  Honey (unprocessed). Honey is written into our lineage and was highly revered in ancient Egypt as found in the pharaoh’s tombs. So it should be of no surprise to know that it can relax the body and the mind as well as support our immunity.

Honey is known to be high in tryptophan, which helps to reduce anxiety and relax the nerves.  The absorbable sugar makes it good brain food.  Buy raw and local honey if you can.

In the past honey has saved whole settlements from malnutrition – it is truly medicine for our planet.


4)  Oatmeal.  As long as it is sugar-free, oatmeal aids in relaxation for several reasons.

I would watch my Scottish Grandmother with dismay as she would make her bowl of morning oats the old-fashioned way and then pour cold milk and salt over it.  I thought it tasted so disgusting that it took many years to return to and enjoy oats in a different way.

First, this complex carbohydrate enhances the absorption of tryptophan, which we now know, leads to the production of serotonin, the feel-good hormone – a brain chemical that helps the body relax.

In addition, oats are rich in Vitamin B6 – a known anti-stress vitamin and melatonin, a hormone that supports healthful relaxation and sleep.


5)  Bananas. This fruit is loaded with potassium and magnesium – a catalyst for abundant electrolyte production – known natural muscle relaxants. Because relaxed muscles encourage the whole body to relax, sources of tryptophan can help smooth the route towards easing physically mounting stress and sleep better.

Bananas can alleviate gastric cramps and relieve stress-related gastrointestinal disorders.  A banana a day helps you get through your day.



6)  Asparagus. 2,ooo years ago asparagus was prized for its unique texture and alleged medicinal and aphrodisiacal qualities.

In addition to delivering up a healthy dose of antioxidants, which reduce the effects of oxidative stress, asparagus is another rich source of tryptophan and is remarkably nutritious.

It is a food source that helps balance mood, supports healthy sleep cycles, and calms anxiety attacks and stress.


7)  Cold-Water Fatty Fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, and herring, most preferably wild.

These fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which, like turkey, boost serotonin levels while suppressing the production of anxiety-related hormones.

Omega-3 oils have also been shown to lower high blood pressure.  Fatty fish is considered one of the most effective anti-inflammatory foods on earth.

If you feel that salmon is too expensive, I fondly remember being served mashed sardines on toast for supper in my family.  Cheap chow and cheerful.


 8)  Dark Chocolate. My family and friends know that I consider chocolate a food group unto itself!   I am trying to adapt to dark chocolate without much success, although the benefits are seductive.

In ancient times the South American Maya considered their form of chocolate as “Food of the Gods”.

It is said to reduce stress levels in the brain because it helps balance serotonin, endorphin, and dopamine, which are essential hormones for softening stress levels.  Be sure to eat 70% cacao.

Here is a recipe for Raw Muesli that has 4 of the above foods in it.  I may have this for breakfast, lunch, or dessert at night.

Serves one person.

2 Tablespoons of oat flakes soaked in a little water or fruit juice overnight.

A handful of raisins soaked.

1 banana mashed (or any fruit you prefer)

1/2 lemon squeezed

2 Tablespoons plain yogurt (or juice)

1 teaspoon honey

1 Tablespoon of chopped nuts

½ teaspoon of powdered cinnamon or ginger

Mix oat flakes and raisins. Combine with grated or mashed fruit & lemon juice & yogurt.  Drizzle with honey.  Sprinkle with powder and nuts.  Adapt to suit your tastes.  Enjoy!

Resources:  Raw Energy Recipes by Leslie & Susannah Kenton

                      Food is your Best Medicine by Henry G, Bieler, M.D.

                      Life-Changing Foods by Anthony William