Your Diet Can Help You Reduce Stress. Here's How

Everything you put in your body impacts how you feel — annoying, we know. But, the good news is that adding in more nutritious, high-quality foods can reduce inflammation and even curb your stress levels. You just have to know what to look for and what healthy foods you enjoy.

According to Mindbodygreen, studies have proven that eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables has a positive effect on stress levels. But, there's an ideal amount that may provide the most relief from symptoms of burnout and exhaustion. Apparently, eating two cups of fruit and vegetables per day may be best for stress management. An Australian study found that those eating this amount of fresh foods experienced lower stress levels than those who ate less than one cup.

"We found that people who have higher fruit and veggie intakes are less stressed than those with lower intakes, which suggests diet plays a key role in mental wellbeing," said Simone Radavelli-Bagatini, the lead researcher behind the study.

Essentially, the high levels of antioxidants, flavonoids and other healthy compounds are likely responsible for the reduction in stress.

Fruits and vegetables fight oxidative stress

It likely comes as no surprise that adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet can be healthier for your mind and body. Mindbodygreen notes that antioxidants and naturally occurring nutrients from these foods help combat oxidative stress and inflammation in the body — both of which are connected to lowered moods, anxiety and other mental health issues. "Vegetables and fruits contain important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, and carotenoids that can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, and therefore improve mental wellbeing," Radavelli-Bagatini adds.

With that in mind, it's important to note that three cups of fresh food is the recommended amount put forth by the Department of Agriculture, so it's best to eat as many of these foods as possible. Other foods that contribute to better mental health include dark chocolate with its high levels of antioxidants, avocados for healthy fats and fatty fish for omega-3s, Everyday Health reports.

When you take the time to add more foods that grow from the Earth into your diet, you'll likely notice the difference in how your body and your mind feel. Next time you're at the grocery store, pick up your favorite fruits and vegetables for snacking and cooking — your system will thank you for it!