Shot of a young woman eating a healthy salad at home
Print icon
share icon

Discover how to lower your cortisol with these 5 easy recipes

April 24, 2024
5 minutes
Healthy Eating
Diets and meal planning

If you're familiar with the phrase "fight or flight," you already have a basic understanding of what cortisol is. In short, cortisol is the body's natural stress hormone that triggers the "fight or flight" response.

Short-term cortisol release can give us the boost we need to run from danger, but prolonged high cortisol levels are unhealthy, leading to some chronic diseases and weight gain. If you're wondering how to lower cortisol, you may be surprised to learn that some simple dietary changes can help. Let's learn more about what exactly cortisol is and how diet and delicious recipes can play a role in cortisol regulation.

Understanding cortisol and its impact on health

It's no secret that stress is harmful to both our minds and our bodies. Released by the adrenal glands, cortisol is the stress hormone that is triggered through the sympathetic nervous system to:

  • Release energy stores
  • Deal with stressful scenarios
  • Regulate the body's immune system
  • Maintain healthy blood pressure levels when we're experiencing stress

Over time, high cortisol levels lead to serious health conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and more. Equally concerning, high cortisol levels can interfere with sleep hormones, and poor sleep has an impact on concentration and energy levels. Learning more about how to reduce cortisol levels can have a huge impact on your health.

Role of diet in cortisol regulation

Most of us can enjoy all foods in moderation, but some foods may actually increase stress and affect how we manage our cortisol levels. What foods raise cortisol levels? High sugar intake can cause an elevated cortisol level, as can saturated fat and refined grains. An elevated cortisol level makes it more challenging for our bodies to handle stressful situations.

Moreover, research has indicated a strong relationship between improved mental health and a healthy gut microbiome. Microbiomes are the microbes that live in our guts. Eating a low cortisol diet plan will support gut health and may help reduce anxiety and stress, which improves overall health.

The good news is some of the most delicious foods are also foods that can help manage cortisol levels. Let's go over some foods to lower cortisol.

Key nutrients and foods for lowering cortisol levels

All of these foods may lower cortisol to support healthy stress levels and gut health.

  • Whole grains: Rich in fiber and plant-based polyphenols that may support gut health and stress levels
  • Dark chocolate: Contains flavonoids that may control stress reactivity in the adrenal glands
  • Whole vegetables and fruits: High in polyphenolic compounds and antioxidants that may reduce cortisol levels and fight free radicals
  • Green tea: Contains catechins and the calming compound L-theanine, which is linked to increased mental alertness and stress reduction
  • Lentils and legumes: Fiber-rich to manage blood sugar levels and support gut health
  • Healthy fats: Linked to reduced stress and brain health

Additionally, prebiotics and probiotics can help lower cortisol levels. Consider foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, and kimchi to support lowered cortisol levels and promote a healthy gut.

Staying well-hydrated will also help you keep your cortisol at healthy levels. When we're dehydrated, cortisol levels can temporarily increase.

5 easy and delicious recipes designed to lower cortisol

These recipes are a good start for enjoying a healthier breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

1. Banana almond butter smoothie


  • 4-5 ice cubes
  • 1 frozen or fresh banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk (vanilla almond milk is an excellent choice)
  • 1 Tablespoon almond butter


Blend all of the above ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth.

2. Turkey and avocado wrap


  • 2 warmed whole wheat tortillas
  • 1/4 pound thinly sliced turkey breast
  • 2 Tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
  • 8 tomato slices
  • 1/4 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, minced


  1. Spread the whole wheat tortillas with the light mayonnaise.
  2. Top the tortillas with all of the ingredients.
  3. Roll up the tortillas with the ingredients and cut them in half to serve.

3. Oatmeal with berries and walnuts


  • 3/4 cup organic oats
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseeds
  • 1 cup berries, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water


  1. Bring the oats, water, chia seeds, salt, and flax to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat and simmer the oatmeal for 7-10 minutes, just until the water is completely evaporated and the oatmeal is soft.
  3. Add the chopped berries to the oatmeal and serve.

4. Grilled chicken and vegetable skewers


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped
  • 1 juiced lemon
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes
  • 8 ounces whole mushrooms with stems removed
  • 2 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces


  1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a zippered bag or large bowl.
  2. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade, tossing thoroughly to coat.
  3. Seal the bag or cover the bowl and refrigerate between 30 minutes to two hours.
  4. Heat the grill to medium-high heat.
  5. Build the chicken and veggie skewers by threading the vegetables and chicken onto wooden or metal skewers.
  6. Grill the skewers for about 10 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time.

5. Dark chocolate and almond energy bites


  • 8 ounces Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 4 Tablespoons almond butter
  • 6 Tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • Optional toppings: white sesame seeds, unsweetened cocoa powder, mini chocolate chips, chocolate sprinkles


  1. Combine the almonds and dates in a food processor bowl. Blend these ingredients until they're finely ground. The pieces will be about the size of sesame seeds and mixed together evenly.
  2. Add the almond butter and cocoa powder to the bowl, pulsing until smooth. This mixture should stick tightly together when pressed between your fingers. If the mixture is crumbly or dry, add more almond butter.
  3. Roll 1 tablespoon at a time of the almond butter and chocolate dough into balls.
  4. Roll the energy bites in the desired toppings.
  5. Store at room temperature for two days or up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

Conclusion: food for healthier cortisol levels

Learning how to control cortisol levels involves managing stress reactions, but making simple changes to your diet can also help. Using these recipes and adding some of the healthy foods we listed above can play a crucial role in keeping cortisol at a healthy level. This can lead to long-term stress management, a healthier lifestyle, and improved overall health.

Evidation can serve as another tool for living your healthiest life. Download the Evidation app today to learn more about healthy eating, get tips for being more active, and track your healthy habits.

Diets and meal planning
Evidation on Apple App StoreEvidation on Google Play Store
Download app