Foods that relax you

May 25, 2012 at 8:00 a.m. ET

With the stress and busy routine of everyday life, you may find it hard to relax once you finally get the chance to. Falling asleep can also prove to be difficult if you’re not relaxed, leaving you tossing and turning. One natural way to help you relax can be found simply in what you choose to eat. Below are some foods that will help you feel more relaxed throughout your busy day.

Woman drinking milk


When I was young and had trouble sleeping, my mom used to give me a glass of warm milk to relax me. This old trick helps you relax because warm milk contains tryptophan, which helps your body produce serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone said to lift your spirits and induce feelings of pleasure. The calcium in the milk also works to calm you. Milk products — particularly cheese — are calming foods.


Like milk, eggs contain tryptophan, which has a calming effect. Including eggs in your diet, such as eating a hard-boiled egg as a snack, is a great way to take advantage of the amino acids found in eggs.

Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates, such as whole-grain breads, cereals, pastas, potatoes, nuts and beans, also promote serotonin production in your body. Be sure to avoid white, refined carbohydrates, though, as they have been stripped of their healthy nutrients.

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate that contains at least 60 per cent cocoa is lower in sugar than milk chocolate and white chocolate, and it is loaded with health benefits. Cocoa increases serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, thereby reducing anxiety and lifting your mood. Who needs another reason to eat chocolate without the guilt?

Omega-3-fatty-acid-rich foods

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, help to lower prostaglandin levels, which are chemicals in the body that can cause inflammation and pain. Consuming fish and other foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, like broccoli and walnuts, can also encourage a better mood and help relax you.


Probably an obvious choice, sipping on an herbal tea like camomile or peppermint is an effective way to reduce anxiety. The steam from this hot drink instantly calms you, while teas rich in L-theanine, such as green or black tea, contain apigenin and chrysin, which are sedative flavonoids that help relax you.

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