Anxiety. We’ve all experienced it yet none of us want it around. Whether you suffer from anxiety on a daily basis or it raises its head from time to time when the going gets tough, we’re sure it’s an unwelcome guest in your life. While there are many things we can do to decrease our anxiety levels (such as meditation, breathing exercises, cardiovascular movement, and more), there’s one thing you might not be considering in your anti-anxiety arsenal…
That’s right. Certain foods have anti-anxiety properties, while others are actually known to increase feelings of anxiety. Crazy huh?
The following is a list of some of the best foods to eat to help combat anxiety.
Note: This list of foods is just one tool in your toolbox, and we always recommend talking to your doctor when suffering serious mental health issues.
- WILD ALASKAN SALMON
Fatty fish, such as wild Alaskan salmon, are full of omega 3 fatty acids which are great for brain health — in turn helping ease anxiety and depression. Need proof? Look at this study from 2011 that shows how omega 3 supplementation lowered inflammation and anxiety in medical students.
This little stalk-like vegetable has a distinct flavor and may be better known for its purported aphrodisiac properties, yet it’s a great addition to your anti-anxiety diet. So much so, in fact, that the Chinese government approved the use of asparagus extract as a natural functional food and beverage ingredient due to its anti-anxiety properties. Try roasting a bunch in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil.
- LEAFY GREENS
Yes, mom said, “Eat your greens” and she was right. It turns out that leafy greens — such as spinach and Swiss Chard — are naturally rich in magnesium. Why is that important? Because magnesium is said to help calm nerves and decrease feelings of anxiety. If you don’t love them on your plate, try adding them to your next juice or smoothie for a natural magnesium boost.
If you’re a fan of nuts but not a fan of feeling nutty, buy a packet of cashews next time you are in the store. These tasty little nuts contain mood-stabilizing nutrients such as B6, magnesium, niacin, and tryptophan. In fact, cashews are one of the best sources of the amino acid tryptophan among all plant-based foods. According to this article, “B6 helps convert the tryptophan into serotonin (the chemical responsible for maintaining mood balance) and helps magnesium enter into the body’s cells.” Turkey is another great source of tryptophan, so there’s a great excuse to go buy your favorite bird before having to wait for Turkey day.
If you like green tea, make your next cuppa a Matcha one. Matcha green tea is well-known amongst those looking for natural ways to reduce anxiety, thanks in part to its L-theanine content. This amino-acid is able to fight against high levels of glutamate and calm the overactivity often caused by those levels. It also helps activate GABA in the brain, a neurotransmitter that calms the body and mind. If matcha is on your grocery list, try to find a Ceremonial grade tea for the ultimate quality.
- BONE BROTH
We may be biased, but we think this tasty little drink is something of a hero when it comes to all kinds of things related to mental and physical health. Why? Well, let’s start with the gut-brain relationship… 95% of serotonin receptors are found in the lining of the gut, so by working towards a happier gut (thank you, bone broth) you are also working towards a more balanced brain. You can read more about the gut-brain axis in our article here. But that’s not all! Bone broth also contains the amino acid glycine which helps the body make serotonin, a hormone and neurotransmitter that has significant effects on sleep and mood. So pour yourself a comforting cup of Beef Bone broth, or add some Chicken Bone broth to your next recipe, and enjoy.
A prince amongst super fruits, avocados don’t just taste like a delicious, creamy luxury food… they might be able to help you feel happier too! That’s because these little green treats are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins and heart-healthy fat that may help to lessen anxiety. If you’re not a big avocado eater yet, may we suggest you try mashing some up with some spices, a squirt of lemon juice, and some salt, and adding to your morning toast. You’re welcome.
These tiny little powerhouses are packed full of antioxidants and vitamin C, both of which may provide anxiety relief. They’re also a great alternative to sugary foods (which may mess with your blood sugar) when you are craving something sweet. While there are no rules against eating your blueberries straight out of the container, we are fans of using them in recipes too, such as muffins and oatmeal.
According to this review by NIH, “Consumption of fermented foods that contain probiotics may serve as a low-risk intervention for reducing social anxiety.” And that’s not all that fermented foods are good for… They are also said to increase the health of your gut microbiome and digestive system and enhance the immune system. Which means it’s yogurt for breakfast (or snack!) Search for a Greek yogurt that has “live and active cultures” and throw in some of those blueberries we mentioned above for good measure. Not a yogurt fan? Grab yourself a kombucha next time you’re feeling the need for something fizzy.
Here’s another food group that helps get serotonin flowing, which can only be a good thing as this calm-inducing hormone is critical in our battles against anxiety. We recommend choosing old fashioned oats over the instant variety, and we have a host of fabulous oatmeal recipes you’re going to want to try here.
If you’re opening your Instacart app as you read this post and preparing your anti-anxiety grocery list, remember this: it’s equally important to avoid foods that are known triggers for stress and anxiety too. So replace the coffee with bone broth, the sugary treats with blueberries, and the alcohol with kombucha, and you might just be on your way to a calmer day.