Chocolate, red wine, nuts and bananas: the foods that help reduce stress

Snacking on chocolate, bananas and nuts can all help you chill out in a stressful period.

Snacking on chocolate, bananas and nuts can all help you chill out in a stressful period. Photo: Getty

A recent study by Victoria University discovered that people who ate Vegemite, Marmite and MightyMite were less stressed and anxious than those who didn’t.

Dr Ross Walker, cardiologist, author and media presenter, says it’s well known that the B-group vitamins, found in Vegemite, are stress relievers. 

“However, Vegemite is loaded with salt and that’s my concern about the Vegemite message getting out there,” he says.

“While it’s alright for kids to have it regularly, adults who tuck into Vegemite can cause serious problems, especially for those with high blood pressure. Vegemite may whack their blood pressure up through the roof.”

Dr Walker urges Aussies to look for other sources of B-12 and stress reducing foods.

Additionally, this doctor is happy to prescribe chocolate and red wine for stress reduction.

“It’s all about the daily dose size,” he qualifies.

He recommends 25g of dark chocolate containing 70 per cent or more cacao, one glass of red wine and a good quality multivitamin containing 400mg of folic acid to combat stress.

Nutritionist Donna Aston agrees with Dr Walker on the high salt content of Vegemite.

Oily fish with lemon is the perfect relaxing meal. Photo: Getty

“Like most Aussies, I grew up with Vegemite, however, it’s very high in sodium, which is something I try to keep to a minimum,” she explains.

“My favourite stress-busting foods are lean beef, yoghurt, raw nuts and seeds, leafy green vegetables, eggs, oats and oily fish,” Ms Aston says. 

Ms Aston also believes that it’s not just want you put in your body, but what you leave out.

“It’s equally important to reduce foods that may exacerbate stress, such as sugar, processed foods, many food additives and alcohol, which destroys vitamin B,” she says.

Teresa Cutter, The Healthy Chef, says some of the best ways to reduce stress include eating whole foods, fermented foods and getting outside. 

“A stroll in the sunshine instantly makes me feel calm and relaxed,” Ms Cutter says.

Food-wise, cashews (unsalted and unroasted, of course) and bananas are on Ms Cutter’s list of foods to fight stress.

“Cashews and bananas contain the amino acid L-tryptophan which converts to serotonin in the body – a feel-good chemical responsible for overall wellbeing and feeling great.”

Naturopath Reece Carter has a chapter dedicated to stress management in his new book, The Garden Apothecary.

The self-confessed ‘herb nerd’ knows how to turn leaves and petals into remedies.

“Lavender is so versatile. Use the fresh flowers in a tea or use the oil as aromatherapy to bring about calm,” Mr Carter says.

“Lemon Balm is super easy to grow, and can be made into a simple tea. Early, small-scale studies are supporting its traditional use as a mild sedative appropriate for use during times of stress, or before bed to support a better sleep.”

“Ashwaganda [Withania] is a herb from traditional Ayurvedic medicine, which is believed to assist the body in adapting to stress. You can buy the dried herb and include it in tinctures as a home remedy. This is a favourite among my clients,” he says.

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