One of the most beneficial ways to reduce stress and nourish the soul is by consuming stress-busting foods. Yes, there is such a thing as foods that contain stress fighting properties. Encourage your clients to consume more of these nutrients to boost their mood, reduce stress, and fuel the body and mind.

Dark Cocoa (greater than 70%).  What? Chocolate is good for you?! It sure can be. The key is choosing the dark version, which is strongly linked to improving mood when consumed in moderation. Dark chocolate is jammed with polyphenols and flavanols – both of which can improve mood and lower blood pressure.

*Enjoy a bit each week and reap the benefits.

Avocado. These are actually a fruit, believe it or not. They are not only super high in MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), they are full of lutein, beta-carotene, vitamin E and folate. You can consider avocados a powerhouse of nutrient density.

*Spread some on whole grain bread, dice up and enjoy in a salad, or make homemade guacamole to serve with veggies and whole grain crackers.

ripe avocados

Berries. Besides being nature’s candy, berries are full of antioxidants and vitamins to help combat free radical damage. Vitamin C has been shown to help lower blood pressure and cortisol (a stress hormone).

*Add a handful to whole grain cereal, yogurt, or blend them up in a smoothie with almond milk. Yum!

Cashews. These golden nuggets pack a punch with protein and healthy fats. They also contain zinc, which in low levels has been linked to depression and anxiety.

*Add these to a veggie stir-fry, a leafy green salad, Greek Yogurt, or oatmeal for a boost of zinc infused energy.

Salmon. Stress amps up certain hormones as part of our fight or flight nervous system response. As a result, inflammation can set it. Salmon contains a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory by nature.

*Enjoy a couple of servings of salmon a week and you may be able to combat stress and nourish your muscles with lean protein at the same time.

Chamomile Tea. Chamomile has long been celebrated as a calming plant. Steep some chamomile tea before bed and enjoy the relaxing effects of this seemingly magical substance.

*Don’t like chamomile? Try lavender tea instead. Both are equally respected for their stress-busting characteristics (and delightful scents).

Yogurt. Yes, yogurt. More research continues to be published related to gut-health, our “second brain” (the stomach) and the microbiome in the GI tract. Stress impacts every system in our body and most notably, the stomach.

*Incorporating a serving of yogurt each day may help support the gut bacteria balance and combat stress at the same time.

Food is our most natural form of medicine. What better way to relieve stress than to indulge in a food that can potentially bring about a positive shift in mood.

sports fitness nutrition course

Erin Nitschke

Dr. Erin Nitschke, NFPT-CPT, NSCA-CPT, ACE Health Coach, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Therapeutic Exercise Specialist, and Pn1 is a health and human performance college professor, fitness blogger, mother, and passionate fitness professional. She has over 15 years of experience in the fitness industry and college instruction. Erin believes in the power of a holistic approach to healthy living. She loves encouraging her clients and students to develop body harmony by teaching focused skill development and lifestyle balance. Erin is also the Director of Educational Partnerships & Programs for the NFPT. Erin is an editorial author for ACE, IDEA, The Sheridan Press, and the Casper Star Tribune. Visit her personal blog at