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April 2021

The Right Comfort Foods to Beat Stress

When you’re stressed, your first reaction may be to reach for a pint of ice cream or a bag of potato chips. Indulging in comfort foods definitely feels good in the moment. But foods high in sugar and carbohydrates can become an unhealthy crutch, making you feel worse in the long run.

But that doesn’t mean you should avoid food altogether when you’re stressed. You can snack—you just have to pick the right foods.

Here’s what you should focus on to get the most stress-busting benefits:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids may protect against damage caused by stress. And studies demonstrate that omega-3s may help improve stress-related disorders, like anxiety and depression.

What to eat: If you’re feeling stressed, make it a sushi night. Load up on fatty fish like salmon and tuna.


In some studies, not getting enough folate has been linked to depression. Scientists theorize this might be because folate has a role in biochemical reactions in the brain.

What to eat: Reach for green veggies. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, and asparagus are all great sources of folate.

B Vitamins

Research shows that B vitamins help regulate your nerves and brain cells, which can play a part in reducing stress.

What to eat: Avocados are high in vitamin B6. As a bonus, they’re also a good source of potassium, which supports strong muscles and a healthy heart.


Tryptophan is known for its sleepy effects, and adding it to your diet could help you get longer bouts of much-needed sleep. Not to mention, it might improve anxiety symptoms.

What to eat: If stress is keeping you up at night, reach for turkey. You can also try a handful of pumpkin seeds.


There’s a link between eating foods rich in zinc and experiencing lower levels of anxiety.

What to eat: A 1-ounce serving of cashews contains 15% of the daily recommended value for zinc. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2021
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