10 Foods that Lower Cortisol and Anxiety + Meal Plan

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Cortisol is a hormone that helps your body cope with stress. However, too much cortisol can also cause anxiety and other health problems. That’s why it’s important to eat foods that lower cortisol and keep your cortisol levels balanced. In this blog post, you’ll discover 10 delicious foods that lower cortisol and anxiety, and how to incorporate them into a cortisol-reducing diet. You’ll also get a sample meal plan to help you get started. Whether you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or just want to improve your mood and health, this blog post is for you. Read on to learn more about the amazing benefits of foods that lower cortisol and anxiety.

The Impact of Cortisol on Health

You may have heard of cortisol as the “stress hormone” that wreaks havoc on your health. But what exactly is cortisol and how does it affect your body and mind? In this section, we’ll explore the impact of cortisol on health and how you can lower your cortisol levels naturally with some delicious foods.

Cortisol is involved in your mood, memory, and learning. It helps you cope with stressful situations by increasing your alertness, energy, and focus.

However, when your cortisol levels are too high for too long, it can have negative consequences for your health. High cortisol levels can cause:

  • Weight gain, especially around the belly
  • Insomnia and fatigue
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Impaired brain function and memory loss
  • Weakened immune system and increased risk of infections
  • Increased inflammation and pain
  • Hormonal imbalances and reproductive problems

As you can see, cortisol is not something you want to mess with. That’s why it’s important to keep your cortisol levels in check and avoid chronic stress. One of the best ways to do that is by eating foods that lower cortisol and anxiety naturally. In the next section, we’ll share with you 10 foods that can help you calm your nerves and balance your hormones.

Foods that Lower Cortisol

Too much cortisol can wreak havoc on your health, causing anxiety, insomnia, weight gain, and inflammation. That’s why you need a cortisol-reducing diet that can help you balance your hormones and feel more calm and relaxed.

Here are 10 of the best foods that lower cortisol:

1. Dark chocolate

Dark Chocolate Bars | Foods that Boost Testosterone | foods that lower cortisol

Yes, you read that right. Dark chocolate is not only delicious, but also rich in antioxidants and flavonoids that can lower cortisol and blood pressure. Just make sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa and limit yourself to one or two squares a day.

2. Berries

Berries are another sweet treat that can help you combat stress. They are packed with vitamin C, which can reduce cortisol and boost your immune system. Plus, they have a low glycemic index, which means they won’t spike your blood sugar levels. Try adding some blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries to your yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies.

3. Salmon

Grilled Salmon Fish on Top of Grilled Vegetables

Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower cortisol and inflammation. Omega-3s can also improve your mood and brain function, making you more resilient to stress. Aim for two servings of fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, or sardines per week. Also check out our delicious honey garlic glazed salmon recipe.

4. Avocado

Sliced Avocado Fruit | foods that lower cortisol

Avocado is a superfood that can do wonders for your health. It contains healthy fats, fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and vitamin E, all of which can help lower cortisol and support your nervous system. You can enjoy avocado as a snack, in salads, sandwiches, or dips, or even in desserts like chocolate pudding or ice cream.

5. Nuts

nuts and seeds protein peptides

Nuts are a great snack to munch on when you’re feeling stressed. They are rich in protein, healthy fats, fiber, magnesium, zinc, and selenium, which can all help lower cortisol and protect your cells from oxidative stress. Some of the best nuts for stress relief are almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and cashews.

6. Green tea

Green tea is a soothing beverage that can help you relax and unwind. It contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which can increase the production of alpha waves in your brain. These waves are associated with a state of calmness and alertness. Green tea also has antioxidants and catechins that can lower cortisol and inflammation. Drink two to three cups of green tea a day for optimal benefits.

7. Garlic

garlic cloves for fermented garlic honey | foods that lower cortisol

Garlic is a powerful herb that can boost your immunity and fight off infections. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties that can lower cortisol and blood pressure. Plus, it adds flavor and aroma to any dish. You can use fresh garlic cloves or garlic powder in your soups, stews, sauces, or stir-fries.

8. Oats

Oats are a wholesome breakfast that can keep you full and energized for hours. They are high in fiber, which can lower cortisol and cholesterol levels. They also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that can increase the production of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that can regulate your mood and sleep cycle. You can make oatmeal with milk or water and top it with fruits, nuts, seeds, or honey.

9. Spinach

Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that can help you cope with stress. It is loaded with magnesium, which can lower cortisol and relax your muscles and nerves. It also has folate, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K, which can support your overall health and well-being. You can eat spinach raw in salads or cooked in soups, omelets, or casseroles.

10. Yogurt

Yogurt is a fermented food that can improve your gut health and digestion. It contains probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that can modulate your cortisol response and enhance your immune system. It also has calcium and protein, which can strengthen your bones and muscles. You can eat yogurt plain or flavored with fruits or honey.

These are some of the best foods that lower cortisol and help you manage stress better. By following a cortisol-reducing diet, you can improve your physical and mental health and enjoy life more.

Crafting a Cortisol-Reducing Meal Plan

I’m going to show you how to design your cortisol-reducing diet plan, based on the principles of the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods.

The basic rules of a cortisol-reducing diet are:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, berries, citrus fruits, and tomatoes.
  • Choose whole grains over refined carbs, such as oats, quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat bread.
  • Include healthy fats from nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado, and fatty fish.
  • Consume moderate amounts of lean protein from poultry, eggs, dairy, beans, and lentils.
  • Limit or avoid processed foods, added sugars, caffeine, alcohol, and red meat.

These foods will provide you with the nutrients that support your adrenal glands, balance your blood sugar, and calm your nervous system. They will also keep you feeling full and energized throughout the day.

Here’s a sample 3-day meal plan that incorporates these foods in a well structured table:

1Greek yogurt with granola, blueberries, and walnutsApple slices with peanut butterChicken salad with spinach, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and balsamic dressingCarrot sticks with hummusSalmon with roasted broccoli and quinoa
2Oatmeal with banana, almond butter, and cinnamonTrail mix with nuts and dried fruitsVegetable soup with whole wheat bread and hummusCelery sticks with cream cheeseTurkey meatballs with whole wheat pasta and marinara sauce
3Scrambled eggs with spinach, cheese, and whole wheat toastOrange and almondsMediterranean quinoa bowl with chickpeas, cucumber, tomato, olives, feta cheese, and lemon dressingYogurt with granola and berriesRoasted chicken with roasted potatoes and green beans

Foods that Increase Cortisol: What to Avoid

You already know that some foods can help you lower your cortisol levels and feel more relaxed. But how about foods that increase your cortisol levels? Here are some of the worst offenders when it comes to raising your cortisol and ruining your mood.

  1. Caffeine: This stimulant can make you feel alert and energized, but it also triggers your adrenal glands to release more cortisol. That means more anxiety, insomnia, and cravings for sugar and carbs. If you can’t live without your morning cup of coffee, try to limit yourself to one or two cups a day, and avoid drinking it after noon.
  2. Sugar: When you eat sugar, your blood glucose rises rapidly, which causes your pancreas to secrete insulin. Insulin then lowers your blood sugar but also signals your body to produce more cortisol. This creates a vicious cycle of highs and lows that can leave you feeling stressed, irritable, and hungry.
  3. Alcohol: Alcohol interferes with your liver’s ability to metabolize cortisol, which means that it stays in your bloodstream longer and causes more damage. It also dehydrates you, disrupts your sleep quality, and increases inflammation in your body. All of these factors can contribute to higher cortisol and lower well-being. If you do drink alcohol, do it in moderation and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  4. Processed foods: Processed foods are loaded with artificial ingredients, preservatives, trans fats, and sodium. These chemicals can cause inflammation in your body, which triggers more cortisol production. They also tend to be high in calories and low in nutrients, which can lead to weight gain and nutrient deficiencies. Both of these conditions can worsen your stress response and make you more vulnerable to chronic diseases.
  5. Spicy foods: Spicy foods can cause heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux, which can increase your stress and discomfort. They can also raise your body temperature and blood pressure, which can stimulate your adrenal glands to secrete more cortisol. If you do enjoy spicy foods, eat them sparingly and pair them with cooling foods like yogurt, cucumber, or mint.


Can food reduce cortisol levels?

Yes, certain foods can help lower cortisol levels. A balanced diet rich in dark chocolate, omega-3 fatty acids, and fruits like bananas can contribute to cortisol reduction.

What foods lower cortisol levels?

Foods like berries, fatty fish, and green tea have properties that can naturally lower cortisol levels. Incorporating these into your diet may assist in managing stress and promoting overall well-being.

What foods increase cortisol levels?

Highly processed foods, caffeine, and sugary snacks can increase cortisol levels. Be cautious of excessive intake as these items may contribute to elevated stress hormone levels in the body.


Embrace a balanced life by incorporating cortisol-lowering foods into your routine. As we wrap up our journey on foods that lower cortisol, consider exploring more wellness insights.

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