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The best foods and drinks for stress relief

From warm milk to crunchy almonds, these are the best foods to help you relax and banish stress

The best foods and drinks for stress relief

With so much uncertainty in our lives right now, increased stress is something many of us are feeling. In this month’s Know Your Nutrients series with Nutracheck, we’re sharing foods that can help you keep stress levels down, and your mood up.


Remember when you were given a warm glass of milk to help you sleep? Turns out there may be some scientific basis for this.

Milk contains a compound called lactium. When a study exposed subjects to stressors, lactium was associated with a reduction in stress response. Lactium is present in cows’ milk naturally, but not in dairy-free alternatives. If you do drink cows’ milk, try adding milk to your morning porridge for a calming start to the day, or enjoying a warm glass before bed to help you sleep easy.


Extracts of this leafy green have been found to reduce levels of stress hormones in our body. Spinach is also a great source of folate, which research has found plays a role in stress and depression management.

Try adding a handful of spinach to your morning smoothie for a stress-free start to your day, or cook up a spinach and paneer curry for a relaxing evening meal.


Almonds not only provide protein and healthy fats, they are also a great source of magnesium, which can help with managing stress levels. Magnesium deficiency has been found to result in increased stress responses within the body. This may be because of the key role magnesium plays in converting tryptophan to serotonin in our bodies, and serotonin is closely linked to mood control. Almonds are great simply as a snack on their own, or try them chopped and sprinkled over salads or porridge.

Kidney beans

As well as being a great source of fibre and plant-based protein – both of which can stabilise energy levels and help keep our mood stable – kidney beans also provide a healthy dose of zinc to our diet.

Research has found low levels of this mineral have been linked to increased risk of depression and stress. Ensuring you have an adequate intake of zinc could help balance your mood and ability to manage stress. To up your zinc intake, try cooking up a good old-fashioned bean chilli with plenty of kidney beans, for a warming, stress reducing dinner. You could also throw together a mixed bean and veggie salad to enjoy as a mood-boosting lunch.

Chamomile tea

Many of us will be familiar with the advice to drink a camomile tea to help us relax – and that’s not just an old wives’ tale. Camomile has been linked to improved sleep and feelings of relaxation, as well as reduced anxiety, in some cases. So making camomile tea part of your routine could help you feel less stressed and more relaxed. Begin your day with a camomile cuppa for a relaxing start, and finish the day with the same to improve your quality of sleep.

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