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  • Writer's pictureHeather

Foods That Can Help Reduce Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health conditions, affecting approximately 7.6 percent of the global population. It’s an umbrella term used to describe various disorders — such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and phobias — and is generally characterized by constant feelings of tension, worry, and nervousness that can interfere with daily life. The simplest approach to reducing anxiety is almost always self-delivered treatment with various exercises and breathing techniques coupled with positive food choices. In more severe cases, medication might be required as a main course of treatment. There are some foods we can eat that may help support brain function and lower the severity of our symptoms, mostly due to their brain-boosting properties. Some great foods to include if we are experiencing anxiety are:

  • Fatty, cold-water fish - Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, and herring, are high in omega-3s. Omega-3s are a type of fatty acids that have a strong relationship to cognitive function and mental health. Omega-3-rich foods contain either alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) or two essential fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA regulate neurotransmitters, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy brain function.

  • Vitamin D – Researchers are increasingly linking vitamin D deficiency to mood disorders such as anxiety. Low levels of vitamin D in the blood have been linked to depression and anxiety traits. People with low levels of vitamin D should focus their efforts on taking high dose supplements to quickly improve their vitamin D levels. Eating salmon, sardines, and eggs are great sources of vitamin D as well. Eggs also contain tryptophan, as do turkey, bananas and oats, an amino acid that helps create serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter found in the brain, bowels, and blood platelets that helps regulate mood, sleep, memory, and behavior. Serotonin is thought to improve brain function and relieve anxiety.

  • Dark chocolate – Here is one we can all support. Experts have long suspected that dark chocolate might help reduce stress and anxiety. Although it is still unclear how dark chocolate may improve mood or stress, dark chocolate is a rich source of polyphenols, especially flavonoids. Chocolate has a high content of tryptophan, like eggs, which the body uses to turn into mood-enhancing neurotransmitters such as serotonin in the brain. Dark chocolate is also a good source of magnesium. Eating a diet with enough magnesium in it or taking supplements may reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety.

  • Yogurt - Yogurt contains the healthy bacteria Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. Emerging evidence suggests that these bacteria and fermented products have positive effects on brain health. According to a recent clinical review, yogurt and other dairy products may also produce an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. Some research suggests that chronic inflammation may be partly responsible for anxiety, stress, and depression. Including yogurt and other fermented foods in the diet can benefit the natural gut bacteria and may reduce anxiety and stress. Fermented foods include cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented soy products.

  • Chia seeds, almonds, and Brazil nuts – chia seeds are a good source of brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds provide a significant amount of vitamin E and healthy fats. Brazil nuts are high in selenium. Selenium may improve mood by reducing inflammation, which is often at heightened levels when someone has a mood disorder such as anxiety.

These foods are great to include in our everyday diet for many reasons. Not only can they possibly help reduce anxiety, but they can also replace less healthy choices we might make.



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