8 Foods That Reduce Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions, taking many different forms such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, or phobias. It is generally characterized by continuous feelings of worry, tension, and nervousness, and symptoms can become severe enough to interfere with daily life.
Anxiety can be managed through medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes. In addition to staying physically active and getting enough quality sleep, taking in plenty of nutrient-rich foods that reduce anxiety can serve as a powerful contributor to managing symptoms.
If you want to learn more about the best foods for anxiety, here is a list of recommended ingredients to add into your diet, generally containing anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, healthy fats, plus key vitamins and minerals.
Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and trout sits high on the list of foods that reduce anxiety. They are rich in omega-3s: fatty acids that have a strong correlation with cognitive function and mental health thanks to their potent anti-inflammatory properties. Salmon is also high in an amino acid called tryptophan, which has been associated with lower anxiety levels. Both salmon and sardines are amongst the few foods containing vitamin D, where lower levels are associated with mood disorders such as anxiety.
The high vitamin B content in avocados earns them a ranking amongst foods that reduce anxiety. Foods rich in B vitamins have been linked to lower feelings of anxiety, and a single avocado contains multiple B vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6 and folate.
Free-range eggs (the yolks, specifically) are another great source of vitamin D when seeking out foods that reduce anxiety. They also contain mood-regulating tryptophan.
NUTS AND SEEDS
Thanks to their rich and varied supply of nutritious ingredients, different nuts and seeds offer nutrients that make them some of the best foods for anxiety and stress. Cashews are rich in zinc, where deficiencies have been associated with anxiety, while Brazil nuts are high in selenium – an ingredient that may lower anxiety by reducing inflammation. Both pumpkin and chia seeds are listed amongst foods that reduce anxiety due to their rich supplies of magnesium: a mineral that may help regulate emotions. Pumpkin seeds also contain zinc as well as potassium, where deficiencies are associated with high levels of cortisol.
Often renowned as one of the best foods for anxiety, dark chocolate contains a wealth of anxiety-busting ingredients. These include antioxidants, tryptophan, and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese. Low levels of these minerals have been associated with increased symptoms of anxiety.
Yogurt contains healthy bacteria known as probiotics. Sources of nutrition that contain probiotics are generally recognized as foods that reduce anxiety. Including yogurt and other fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, in the diet supports the gut microbiome, which is known to be closely connected to the brain – including emotional wellbeing. In addition to probiotics, prebiotics – ingredients that fuel probiotics in the gut – are also considered to be foods that reduce anxiety. You’ll find prebiotics in high fibre foods such as oats, barley, bran, fruits, vegetables, and beans.
CHAMOMILE & GREEN TEA
In addition to eating more foods to reduce anxiety, there are certain drinks you can try too. Chamomile is widely regarded as a calming tea that promotes sleep, potentially due to anxiety-lowering antioxidants called flavonoids. Green tea is also packed with antioxidants that not only help to reduce inflammation but may reduce symptoms of anxiety in those with stress-related conditions. One of the main active ingredients in green tea, l-theanine, is an amino acid that interacts with the body’s neurotransmitters and may lower anxiety.
Those exploring the best foods for anxiety often seek out ingredients with powerful anti-inflammatory properties such as turmeric. The active ingredient in turmeric, called curcumin, is responsible for reducing the inflammation and oxidative stress that is often increased in those with mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
If you are struggling with anxiety and stress, it is important to seek the guidance of a healthcare professional. While adjusting your diet to include more foods that reduce anxiety may prove helpful, nutritional strategies should be seen as a complement to conventional treatment methods rather than an alternative.