22 Trader Joe’s Foods That Help You Destress, Say Nutritionists
Stress levels are at an all-time high. Between financial, family, and health worries that some of us may have, we’re not getting enough sleep, and anxiety is coloring our every day. We try everything we can to feel better, but one thing we may not have tried is adjusting the foods we’re putting into our bodies.
MyFitnessPal recently surveyed 1,500 women in the US and “energy, mental health, and mood” were among their top health concerns. Similarly, the company found the same among men when they were surveyed last year (2022). And 72% of women said food impacts their energy while 60% said it impacts their mood. And finally, women said fruits (93%), vegetables (88%), and meat (82%) were the top food groups that positively impacted their mood.
The good news is, there are a bunch of foods that can help to naturally relieve stress — and many of those foods can be found at Trader Joe’s! You just may want to pick a few up on your next shopping trip.
1. Organic Baby Spinach
Baby spinach has so many possibilities, from sauteed to creamed to the foundation of a lunch salad. This green vegetable is rich in magnesium.
“Magnesium has been found to have a calming effect on the body by influencing the activity of neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which plays a role in anxiety, fear, and stress. What I love about spinach is its versatility; throw it in your favorite smoothie for an added boost of fiber and magnesium, use it for the base of your favorite salad, or sauté it in a pan with olive oil and garlic as a side dish,” says Emily Buchholtz, RN, CDN, CSO, founder & CEO of Emily Buchholtz Nutrition & Wellness, LLC.
This nutrient-packed combination makes this item satisfying and great for your health. Both fresh and frozen are great options!
2. Slightly Coated Dark Chocolate Almonds
A few nibbles of good chocolate go a long way. Eat these as an afternoon pick-me-up or for dessert. “Dark chocolate coated almonds offer health benefits from their combination of antioxidants (dark chocolate), protein, magnesium, and zinc (almonds). A diet rich in antioxidants can increase serotonin levels leading to improved mood and reduced stress,” said Buchholtz. This nutrient-packed combination makes this item satisfying and great for your health.
3. Teeny Tiny Avocados
Whether you love avocado toast or guacamole, avocados are a must-buy for every trip. Trader Joe’s has cute portion-sized teeny tiny ones that are a great buy, too.
“Avocados are a great source of healthy fat and B vitamins, including folate and vitamin B6. These nutrients are involved in the production of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine which have been shown to positively impact mood. One of my favorite summer salad recipes is a corn, cherry tomato, and avocado salad dressed with a drizzle of olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper,” said Buchholtz.
4. Gluten Free Organic Rolled Oats With Ancient Grains and Seeds
Plan for some overnight oats and be ready to start your day feeling great.
“Whole grains help improve mood and reduce stress by providing stable blood sugar levels and supporting serotonin production. Additionally, their rich content of B vitamins and micronutrients like magnesium and zinc further contribute to mood regulation and stress management,” said Buchholtz.
5. Ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea
Nothing warms the soul and calms your nerves like a soothing cup of tea. “Trader Joe’s has a Ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea that I love,” says Anna Bohnengel, MS, RD, LD, also known as the Fertility Nutritionist.
“Turmeric is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties, while ginger aids digestion and calms those butterflies in your stomach that comes with feeling anxious or nervous. I also love their chamomile tea, which promotes sound sleep for better resilience to life’s stressors,” said Bohnengel.
6. Chia Seeds
Tiny but mighty, chia seeds are a nutritional powerhouse that can help combat stress.
“Rich in healthy fats, calcium, fiber, and antioxidants, these little seeds provide a sustainable energy boost while supporting brain health. Sprinkle chia seeds onto your morning smoothie, oatmeal, or yogurt to give your body the nourishment it needs to tackle the day with a calm and focused mind,” says Bohnengel.
7. Frozen Berries
Frozen berries are a smart way to keep fruit on hand for smoothies and shakes, baking and so many other recipes.
“Trader Joe’s has a great variety of organic frozen berries to choose from that are packed with powerful antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and promote overall well-being. Add them to your morning oatmeal or blend them into a stress-soothing smoothie. (Fun fact, frozen is just as good as fresh – when frozen soon after harvest, freezing fruits and vegetables can preserve their nutritive value),” says Bohnengel.
8. Shelled Edamame
Edamame are soybeans that are harvested before they mature, while they are still green.
“Aside from being a good source of protein and fiber, edamame is also rich in magnesium, providing 50 milligrams of Magnesium per half of a cup, which is an essential nutrient for stress management,” said Kristi Ruth RD/RDN, CNSC, LDN of Carrots & Cookies.
Edamame makes an easy and convenient snack, salad or burrito bowl topping, or a simple side for dinner.
9. 92% Cacao Chocolate Bar
Yes, chocolate is actually sometimes good for you. Especially dark chocolate.
“This delectable bar is rich in magnesium, which is one of the most important nutrients we can consume to calm the nervous system and reduce stress,” says Jillian Smith, RDN and Lead Dietitian at GutPersonal. “It’s one of the best ways to end any meal!”
10. Wild Caught Salmon
Pick up some fresh wild-caught salmon to enjoy on the grill this summer.
“This is rich in omega-3s, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory and it’s the perfect protein for any meal,” says Smith.
11. Organic Dried Mango
Eating fruit is a great way to boost your mood because it improves the quality of your diet.
“Fresh fruit is always a great choice, but sometimes it’s not easy to take on the go. That’s when dried fruit comes in, and this specific product doesn’t contain any added sugar, which makes it stand out from most dried mango products. In fact, diets high in added sugar are linked to poorer mental health,” says Nelson.
12. Moroccan Mint Green Tea
Make a habit of enjoying a soothing cup of green tea before bed.
“My favorite tea from TJ’s is Moroccan Mint Green Tea – high in theanine – green tea may have anti-anxiety calming effects,” says Vanessa Rissetto, RD and CEO of Culina Health.
13. Greek Yogurt
Start the day with a Greek yogurt and you’ll see powerful results.
“TJ’s has a ton of different varieties of Greek yogurt but I’m a purist and like it plain. Greek yogurt has lactobacillus and bifidobacteria and there is evidence that links these bacteria and fermented foods to positive effects on the brain,” says Rissetto.
14. Just A Handful – Rainbow’s End Trail Mix
This is a delightful blend of nutritious ingredients that not only caters to your taste buds but also promotes a healthy lifestyle and enhances your mood.
“Packed with a vibrant mix of dried fruits, nuts, and seeds, this trail mix is a nutritional powerhouse,” says Lisa Richards, a nutritionist and creator of The Candida Diet.
The combination of dried cranberries, mango, pineapple, almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds provides a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, supporting overall well-being.
“These nutrient-dense ingredients contribute to a healthy heart, improved digestion, and boosted the immune system,” says Richards. “The natural sugars in the dried fruits offer a quick energy boost, while the healthy fats in nuts and seeds promote brain function and mood stabilization.”
15. Cruciferous Crunch Collection
This bag is a solution for a lunch salad in a snap, with no slicing and dicing required.
“This is a blend of Kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli that makes an excellent salad base or omelet filling. It can also be quickly transformed into a tasty slaw for tacos,” says Ali Bandier, MS, RD, CDN, founder of Senta Health, who explains biomarkers of inflammation are elevated in those with mood and anxiety-related disorders, and eating an anti-inflammatory diet has been shown to reduce depressive and anxiety symptoms. “Leafy greens, tomatoes, berries, and high-fiber foods like whole grains have all been shown to reduce inflammation.”
16. Garden Vegetable Soup
Soup is so healthy and satisfying, and it can be heated and served in seconds, even if you have no fresh veggies on standby.
“It can be difficult to keep as much fresh produce as I’d recommend in your fridge, so I like to recommend pantry staples, like Trader Joe’s Garden Vegetable Soup, to get a great dose of hearty veggies without worrying about them spoiling. It essentially puts the entire produce department in one handy jar,” said Bandier.
17. Salmon Burgers
Omega-3’s are shown to lower inflammation, and in turn, can improve feelings of anxiety.
“Incorporating more foods with omega-3s, like avocados, fish, nuts, and seeds, is a great way to naturally boost your levels of this crucial fatty acid,” says Bandier.
Cooking fish can be intimidating if you’re new to the kitchen, but Trader Joe’s offers options that will help you to eat more salmon in a snap.
“Try one of their frozen Salmon Burgers at your next cookout instead of the typical red meat option or serve over salad as your main source of protein,” says Bandier.
18. Chilean Hake Fillets
The Mediterranean is regularly ranked as the best overall diet.
“Not only is it known for its high antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, but it has also been found to have a strong impact on reducing stress on its own,” says Bandier. The popular diet is characterized by a high intake of fruits, vegetables, bread, nuts, and seeds; and a moderate intake of dairy products, fish, and poultry. Fresh seafood can be expensive, but Trader Joe’s has a great selection of frozen fish that can be popped into the air fryer for dinner in a flash. “Try their Chilean Hake Fillets, which are similar to other white fish like cod and haddock, as the base of your taco, on top of a salad, or paired with roasted vegetables.”
19. Stir-Fried Garlicky Cabbage
If you are thinking of healthy and flavorful side dishes, stir-fried garlicky cabbage may be your new favorite purchase.
“One of the best things you can do for your mood via your nutrition is to eat a high-quality varied diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lean meats. To keep your veggie intake interesting with minimal prep work, this meal adds a ton of flavor without sacrificing quality. Plus, cabbage contains prebiotics, meaning the fiber in it gets digested by your gut bacteria, which may be linked to mental health improvements,” says Stephanie Nelson, MS, RD, Lead Nutrition Scientist at MyFitnessPal.
20. Organic Vegetarian Chili
Vegetarian chili is a great way to incorporate more beans, and therefore more prebiotics, into your diet.
“The healthy bacteria in your gut digest the fiber in the beans, and a healthy gut microbiome is linked to improved mental health. It’s worth noting that we are still learning a lot about the link between gut health and mental health. But, on the bright side, diets high in fiber improve your diet quality, and a high diet quality is important for improving your energy and mood. Another great thing about this product is that it’s versatile,” says Nelson.
You can heat it up on its own for a quick dinner, or you can pour it on top of chips with some cheese and make nachos for a tasty snack.
21. Almond Butter Chia Overnight Oats
When you’re sluggish and low on energy, it’s easy to get stressed out, and hard to feel upbeat and positive.
“I always recommend a nourishing breakfast that releases slow, controlled energy throughout the morning. These Almond Butter Chia Overnight Oats fit the bill, providing high-fiber carbs, long-lasting energy with fat, and some protein as well,” says Nelson.
22. Chocolate Chip Hold the Cone
Dessert is always on the menu.
“Avoiding dessert entirely, when you want it, actually creates a ton of stress around food, so to improve your mental health and relationship with food, try finding foods that bring you joy,” says Nelson. “I get a little sweet treat and I eat it slowly and deliberately. I enjoy all of the chocolate and vanilla flavors and textures together, and the cones are super small so I can enjoy one without going overboard on the added sugar.”