16 Foods That Help With Anxiety To Add To Your Shopping List

Photo: shutterstock
 Foods That Help With Anxiety To Add To Your Shopping List

Diets aren’t just about weight loss and looking good! Feeling good is just as, if not more, important than what is going on on the outside.

Including a bunch of foods that help with anxiety into your daily diet is the best way to protect your mental health as well as your physical well being.

These foods create an anti-anxiety diet tailored to your tastes so you can feel amazing. 

Anxiety is a common problem, but its debilitating effects can make it feel isolating, a burden that you're left to carry alone.

Characterized by worry, nervousness, and overthinking, anxiety takes on many forms and affects people in a variety of ways. While some people may require medication to treat their anxiety, there several other strategies that ease, manage and prevent anxious feelings. 

RELATED: 100 Anxiety Quotes To Help Calm Your Deepest Fears

Exercise, therapy, and deep-breathing are just some of the things you can do to help cope with anxiety. But often, these practices are best supplemented with a healthy diet to reap the full benefits of an anti-anxiety lifestyle.

Here are 16 science-backed foods that help with anxiety and ease feelings of worry.

Since diet plays an important role in regulating our stress and anxiety, it's essential to nourish your body from the inside out. 

1. Soy beans

Many people don’t realize that this plant protein is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which plays a key role in our cognitive abilities and mental well being.

Omega-3-rich foods provide 2 essential fatty acids — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — which regulate neurotransmitters, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy brain function.

One recent study examining people managing substance abuse used EPA and DHA to reduce anxiety levels during withdrawals. 

2. Fatty fish

As well as being another source of omega-3, fatty fish is rich in mood-boosting vitamin D.

One report examined numerous studies and research projects to conclude that vitamin D has a positive effect on those suffering from mental illness. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, and herring, will provide you with your intake of both vitamin D and omega-3. 

3. Pumpkin seeds

Studies linking vitamin E to depression and anxiety suggest that consuming foods rich in this antioxidant would help resist the effects of these mental health problems.

Pumpkin seeds are also an important source of potassium which helps to regulate electrolytes and blood pressure. This has a calming effect on those who may be suffering from restlessness and stress due to electrolyte imbalances. 

4. Brazil nuts

These nuts also provide a high content of vitamin E, but it's their selenium content that makes them particularly helpful for anxiety management.

Depressive and anxious behaviors are often exacerbated by inflammatory disorders and neurotransmission issues. Selenium reduces inflammation, which may improve mental health and mood. 

RELATED: 18 Best Apps For Coping With Anxiety

5. Oats

The chemical compound serotonin is hugely responsible for easing anxiety, and promoting happiness and mental well being. Not only are they a delicious, filling breakfast choice, oats also contain the amino acid tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin in the body.

6. Eggs 

This versatile food can be included in just about every meal and are also an excellent source of tryptophan.

Eggs are considered a whole protein, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids needed for growth and development. This, coupled with their high vitamin D content, makes them a great addition to an anti-anxiety diet.  

7. Avocado

Avocadoes contain both vitamin B6 and magnesium, which work together to ease anxiety and promote a healthy nervous system. Magnesium is particularly important in regulating neurotransmitters that send messages around the body.

It controls and soothes the pituitary and adrenal glands responsible for your response to stress. This 2017 review of 18 clinical studies shows how magnesium can be used to treat and prevent anxiety. 

8. Dark chocolate

Any excuse to eat chocolate is a good excuse, but easing anxiety has to be one of the best reasons to gorge on this sweet snack.

This 2014 observational study found that 40g of dark chocolate helped reduce perceived stress in female students. Like avocados, the high content of magnesium in dark chocolate can be helpful in treating anxiety.

It's also a rich source of polyphenols, especially flavonoids, which may reduce neuroinflammation and cell death in the brain as well as improve blood flow.

9. Berries

Most berries are high in vitamin C and other antioxidants, including flavonoids. These have been studied for their ability to improve brain health, and thus help with anxiety relief. 

10. Chia seeds

As we’ve already explained, omega-3 plays an important role in calming inflammation and reducing anxiety, so you really can’t get enough of it. Chia seeds can be sprinkled into oats, smoothies, salads, yogurt, or even on toast to boost your omega-3 intake and prevent anxiety.

RELATED: 3 Healthy Snacks With Mood-Boosting Ingredients (For The Days You're Feeling Down)

11. Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin, which is well known for its role in protecting brain health.

Advertisement You deserve to be happy! Get help today from the comfort of your home from BetterHelp, the largest therapy service, to change your life for the better.

One study examined the effects of curcumin on mice and concluded that just 20mg drastically reduced their stress levels compared to those given a lower dosage. It has also been linked to reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.

A 2015 study exhibits how curcumin significantly reduced stress and anxiety in a group of obese adults.  

12. Pickles

Pickles and other fermented foods, like sauerkraut and kefir, typically contain a high level of probiotics, widely considered to be anxiolytic.

This study suggests a particular connection between probiotic-rich foods and the management of social anxiety, offering a low-risk supplement to other methods of easing anxiety.

13. Yogurt

Yogurt contains healthful bacteria, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, which are strands of probiotics known to improve gut health and regulating anxiety.

14. Chamomile

Chamomile is an herb often consumed in teas, and is known for its calming properties.

Loved as a natural remedy to stress, it's scientifically proven to reduce inflammation which can often trigger anxiety. It has also been shown to have positive calming effects on people diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GADs).

One study of 179 participants suffering from GADs, which took place over the course of 9 months, proved that those consuming chamomile experienced a greater reduction in their symptoms than those consuming a placebo. 

15. Green tea

Replace your stress-inducing morning cup of coffee with a soothing mug of green tea to ease anxiety and still get your caffeine fix.

Green tea contains amino acid theanine which has been studied and praised for its anxiety-easing benefits. Green tea also contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant said to have similar anxiety-reducing effects as some anti-anxiety medications. 

16. Natural sweeteners

While adding sweeteners to your diet won’t reduce anxiety, using them as a replacement for refined sugar could.

Natural sweeteners have significantly a lower glycemic index than artificial alternatives. Since high glycemic index diets have been linked to anxiety, using raw cane sugar, coconut sugar, agave syrup, honey, or 100 percent pure maple syrup instead of artificial sugars, flavorings, and refined sugar could improve your stress levels and overall health.

RELATED: 11 Ways To Reduce Stress & Anxiety Using Holistic Healing

Alice Kelly is a writer and storyteller with a passion for lifestyle, entertainment, and trending topics. When she’s not creating content for YourTango, you can catch her working on creative fiction and vintage shopping.

Sign up for YourTango's free newsletter!