Gloria P. Oberbeck, M.D. | Board Certified in Family Medicine | (303) 828-9200

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Stress Fighting Foods


Papaya is great for your immune system and is a great stress buster. Half a medium papaya carries nearly 75 percent more vitamin C than an orange, and provides potent protection against stress. Researchers at the University of Alabama found 200 milligrams of vitamin C—about as much as you’ll find in one large papaya—twice a day nearly stopped the flow of stress hormones in rats.

Other smart sources of vitamin C: Red bell peppers, broccoli, oranges 

Remember, the closer an ingredient is to its original form, the healthier it is for you.

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint not only tastes good and smells vitalizing, but researchers have found that the scent of peppermint helps you focus and boosts performance. Another study discovered that peppermint tea makes drivers more alert and less anxious. 

Other smart sources of peppermint: Peppermint candy and peppermint oil 

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are another source of stress-busting potential . Pumpkin seeds have high levels of magnesium and only about 30 percent of us meet our daily magnesium requirements, placing the rest of us at a higher risk for stress symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, tension, fatigue, insomnia, nervousness and high blood pressure. Magnesium can also help prevent migraine headaches. A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds gives you half your day’s magnesium requirements.

Other smart sources of magnesium: Spinach, Swiss chard, black beans, soybeans, salmon


The healthy fats offered by the avocado are great for brain and heart health and make it an ideal choice when you are craving something rich and creamy. Avocados contain monounsaturated (healthy) fatty acids, and potassium, both of which help combat high blood pressure. Avocado fat is 66 percent monounsaturated, and gram-for-gram, the green fruit has about 35 percent more potassium than a banana. Making fresh guacamole is simple and fast, or slice a few slivers and top with fresh ground pepper.

Other smart sources of potassium: Squash, papaya, spinach, bananas, lentils


Salmon is a the world's best source of source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fat protect against heart disease and cognitive decline, and a study from Diabetes & Metabolism shows that this wonder fat is also responsible for maintaining healthy levels of cortisol. Salmon also has tryptophan, a sleep-promoting amino acid, and just one serving provides the total recommended daily serving. Wild salmon is recommended as farmed Atlantic salmon has additional contaminants that may be harmful to your health.

Other smart sources of omega-3 fats: Flaxseeds, walnuts, sardines, halibut

Other smart sources of tryptophan: Chicken, tuna, beef, soybeans, turkey.


The almond is another stress buster because it contains first stress-buster is the good monounsaturated fats. Almonds also are loaded with vitamin E, which is a mind-calming nutrient. In a study in Belgium, researchers treated pigs with a variety of nutrients just before sticking them in a transportation simulator (basically a vibrating crate). After 2 hours of simulation, only those pigs treated with tryptophan and vitamin E had non-elevated levels of stress hormones. You would need to eat 40-50 raw almonds to reach your daily requirement, so it is best to mix them with other good sources of the stress boosting vitamin E.

Other smart sources of vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, olives, spinach, papaya


Oatmeal is rich in fiber and is a whole grain carbohydrate. Carbohydrates boost serotonin back to healthy levels, and stress depletes serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for feeling calm, cool, and collected. That said, eating doughnuts and cakes is not a healthy or reliable way to get your daily carbohydrate requirement. To induce a steady flow of serotonin, eat fiber-rich whole grain carbohydrates in small quantities . The slower rate of digestion will keep the blood sugars stable and serration production steady, which helps lead to improved mood and less hunger cravings.

Other sources of fiber-rich carbohydrates: Quinoa, barley, whole-wheat bread