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The food you eat makes a difference how your body functions. Specific foods and vitamins may contain properties that provide support for anxiety relief, and even stress. Of course, these superfoods won’t cure anxiety when used alone since defeating anxiety involves making many lifestyle modifications as well. However, choosing the right whole foods can greatly reduce the amount of anxiety you suffer from.
We are on a mission to help you make better decisions with your eating habits. Check out this list of 12 superfoods that support anxiety relief, improve happiness, and reduce stress.
Almonds contain B vitamins, magnesium, iron, calcium, and many other nutrients – all have anti-anxiety benefits: magnesium's anxiety-easing activities include suppressing adrenaline production and reducing rapid heart beats; calcium produces a calming effect on the nervous system and calcium shortage has been linked to disturbances like insomnia, irritability, depression and anxiety; B vitamins are involved in the production of certain neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine, known to produce a calming effect; iron can aid in reducing brain fatigue, which is known as a contributor of anxiety and lack of energy.
Like seaweed, bananas contain tryptophan, with roughly 11 mg in a medium-sized fruit. The fruit is also rich in potassium; and a boost in your potassium level is beneficial if you have anxiety because when you are under stress your metabolic rate rises and causes a drop in potassium levels. In addition, bananas contain high amounts of B vitamins, which we’ve already recommended as a must for stress and anxiety sufferers.
Blueberries and Acai berries as well as many other berries have been considered superfoods for a long time due to the great amount of nutrients. They are rich in vitamins, such as vitamin C as well as phytonutrients (plant nutrients). Vitamin C and other antioxidants in this delicious fruit help alleviate anxiety symptoms and fight the stress hormone, cortisol. Acai berries have phytonutrients that can lift your mood, enabling you to feel better. They can also stabilize your blood sugar levels, which have significant bearing on your mood.
Don’t you love that this made the list? Chocolate is made from cacao, which is high in flavonoids that are potent with relaxation properties. Cacao also contains phenethylamine, a chemical that enhances mood. Eating pure dark chocolate in moderation can cause the brain to produce natural opiates, a chemical known for its anti-anxiety effects. In addition, chocolate reduces cortisol. The darker the chocolate, the more of these substances you are getting. Generally, opt for bars with 70% cacao or higher, and one that has no or low sugar. If you don’t care much for chocolate bars, you can also add cacao to smoothies to get the added benefit. Also, keep in mind that chocolate also has caffeine and theobromine, a mild stimulant. Thus, eating it in excess will increase anxiety symptoms, not relieve them.
Many studies show that consuming omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, lake trout, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines can be uplifting and enhance your mood. Some studies have shown that patients who took omega-3 fatty acids along with their prescription antidepressants improved more than those who took antidepressants alone. Fish is also pure protein which keeps you feeling mentally focused and alert.
In his book, “Healing Through Natural Foods,” naturopath H.K. Bakhru states that garlic is believed to improve mood and reduce fatigue and anxiety. There may not be enough evidence to suggest that eating raw garlic has any effect on symptoms of anxiety. However, increasing garlic in your diet can definitely not hurt since it has tremendous benefits and does lower blood pressure.
Kefir milk is also loaded with tryptophan. This milk is different from regular milk because it’s fermented with probiotic kefir grain. Try drinking one cup a day to keep you feeling calm.
Packed with vitamin A, B, C, E, and K, as well as, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, niacin, protein and fiber, peaches are known to be one of the best superfoods. This little reddish, orange fruit packs a powerhouse of phytonutrients that rid the body of toxins from oxidation, boost metabolism, enhance the immune system, and increase the release of serotonin to calm stress and anxiety.
As stated in the Huffington Post, a study suggested that cutting red meat out of your diet causes feelings of anxiety and depression. Red meat is rich in B vitamins, which help ward off anxiety. Studies have shown a relationship between the B vitamins, including thiamin or vitamin B1, and mood. The key is to eat red meat in moderation. You can also try substituting sometimes with other proteins like fish, yogurt, and legumes.
Turkey is another tryptophan-rich food. Like any other protein, Turkey releases hormones that boost mental concentration and help you stay productive. It will also slow down the rate at which sugars enter the bloodstream. Remember, sugar spikes are not good for anxiety and stress.
Seaweed is rich in potassium and magnesium content, which are known to relieve moodiness, anxiety disorders, and depression. It also contains very high tryptophan, a key amino acid to making serotonin (aka “happy hormone”) and can aid in bringing feelings of calm, relaxation, and sleepiness. Seaweed is also a good alternative to whole grains for those that are gluten sensitive.
Sunflower seeds contain a high source of folate, which help your body produce the feel-good brain neurotransmitter, dopamine. Normal levels of dopamine help control the brain's reward and pleasure centers as well as emotional responses.
Reminder, all these anti-anxiety foods should be used in conjunction with lifestyle changes and any conventional treatments like psychotherapy and medication, not as a replacement of any treatments. Long-term anxiety indicates an anxiety disorder, so see your doctor for dietary and medical advice if you suffer from prolonged anxiety.
Along with these anxiety relief superfoods, you should eat small meals and do not skip meals to stabilize your blood sugar during the day. Small, frequent meals or snacks provide you with energy to deal constructively with stints of anxiety. Thus, keep healthy snacks on hand!
If you’ve tried any of these anxiety relief superfoods to help you deal with anxious moments, please share your experience below!