Looking for foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression? Research shows that some foods act as natural remedies for anxiety, while others can send you into overdrive. Try these 22 foods to reduce anxiety and depression today!
Are you struggling to keep anxiety at bay even though you meet regularly with a therapist, take your medication as prescribed, and have a good support system? The truth is, treatment for anxiety shouldn’t stop when you leave your therapist’s office, screw the lid back on the pill bottle, or step away from your family and friends—effective anxiety management involves one other significant factor: your diet. If you haven’t tried tweaking what you eat then you may be missing an important opportunity to beat back your anxiety.
The modifications you can make to your diet are as simple as swapping out foods could be spiking your anxiety for foods that may lessen the severity of your symptoms. Avoid binge-eating your go-to comfort foods (which only leave you feeling guilty and more anxious) and enjoy nutritious superfoods with mood-boosting properties. You’ll feel better for it.
Start eating foods that help with anxiety and stress today by introducing these 8 simple food swaps into your diet:
1. Asparagus / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Many studies going back to the 1960s indicate that many people who suffer from anxiety and depression have an elevated incident of folate deficiency. Asparagus is one vegetable that contains a valuable amount of this mood-boosting nutrient. One cup alone provides two-thirds of your daily recommended folate value. Asparagus is first on our list of foods scientifically proven to reduce anxiety is asparagus. Asparagus is one of the healthiest plants on earth to cure Rheumatism, urinary tract infections and hormone imbalances in women. It`s also a natural anti-depressant and has many medical forms, including Perment. In one study; researchers gave rates different doses of Asparagus extracts to test its effectiveness. Later, all rats went through two learned-helplessness tests designed to make them depressed. Rats that received asparagus had mild depressive symptoms compared to the non-receiving group.
Food Swap: Asparagus Spears Instead of Fries
Ditch the French Fries and sauté, steam, or grill some asparagus to serve as a side dish. If you tend to snack on fries, consider this substitute: dip cooked asparagus into salsa, hummus, or a bean dip.
Asparagus has also a lot of other health benefits.
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Asparagus
2. Brazil nuts / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
As mentioned, the No. 1 food source on the planet for selenium is brazil nuts. Selenium has been scientifically proven to lift mood and prevent depression. One study conducted by the Swansea University Department of Psychology in Wales and published in Biological Psychiatry examined selenium’s effects on depression, anxiety and mood. This double-blind study examined 50 volunteers who were given a placebo or 100 micrograms of selenium on a daily basis, and three times throughout the five weeks they filled out a “Profile of Moods Stats” questionnaire.
Results showed that the lower the level of selenium in the diet, the more reports of anxiety, depression and tiredness, all of which were decreased following five weeks of selenium therapy. (8)
When it comes to a good mood, serotonin is a key player. Not only does this feel-good brain chemical help regulate mood, but it can also have positive effects on your sleep and appetite. Researchers from the University of Barcelona found that people had higher levels of serotonin metabolites after nut consumption, which included brazil nuts, almonds and walnuts. (9)
All of this points to Brazil nuts making an excellent addition to any depression diet treatment plan to help improve mood and well-being.
Selenium is also an antioxidant, which helps prevent cell damage. It is also anti-carcinogenic, which helps to prevent cancer from developing.
Other nuts, animal products, and vegetables, such as mushrooms and soybeans, are an excellent source of selenium.
It is important not to consume too much selenium as it can cause side effects. The recommended upper limit for selenium for an adult is 400 micrograms (mcg) per day. So be careful not to take supplements with high doses or eat more than a three to four Brazil nuts a day.
Brazil nuts and other nuts are also a good source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant. Antioxidants can be beneficial for treating anxiety, while some research has shown that low levels of vitamin E may lead to depression in some people.
Brazil nuts nutrition is quite impressive. A one-ounce (six kernels) serving of dried, unblanched brazil nuts contains about: (15)
- 185 calories
- 3.5 grams carbohydrates
- 4 grams protein
- 18.8 grams fat
- 2.1 grams fiber
- 542 micrograms selenium (774 percent DV)
- 106 milligrams magnesium (27 percent DV)
- 0.5 milligram copper (25 percent DV)
- 205 milligrams phosphorus (20 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligram manganese (17 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligram thiamine (12 percent DV)
- 1.6 milligrams vitamin E (8 percent DV)
- 1.1 milligrams zinc (8 percent DV)
- 45.2 milligrams calcium (5 percent DV)
- 186 milligrams potassium (5 percent DV)
- 0.7 milligram iron (4 percent DV)
When it comes to eating brazil nuts by themselves as a snack, one to six per day is a typical recommended amount with one to two being sufficient and safest. You don’t want to overdo it with Brazil nuts due to their high selenium content.
Brazil Nuts have a lot of other health benefits for your body.
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts
3. Salmon / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Salmon may be beneficial for reducing anxiety.
EPA and DHA may help regulate the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which can have calming and relaxing properties.
Additionally, studies show these fatty acids can reduce inflammation and prevent brain cell dysfunction that leads to the development of mental disorders like anxiety.
Consuming adequate amounts of EPA and DHA may also promote your brain’s ability to adapt to changes, allowing you to better handle stressors that trigger anxiety symptoms (5).
Even a few servings of salmon a week may be enough to promote anxiety relief.
In one study, men who ate Atlantic salmon three times per week for five months reported less anxiety than those who ate chicken, pork or beef. Moreover, they had improved anxiety-related symptoms, such as heart rate and heart rate variability (8).
Salmon and sardines are also among the few foods that contain vitamin D.
Researchers are increasingly linking vitamin D deficiency to mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. A report in the Journal of Affective Disorders believes that there is enough evidence to prove that vitamin D positively helps depression. Other studies on pregnant women and older adults have also highlighted how vitamin D might improve mood. Vitamin D may also improve seasonal disaffected disorder (SAD) during winter.
Omega-3 fatty acids make your brain happy
Doctors often know how to calm anxiety, or treat it, with therapy and medications, but the answer to calming the condition could be hiding in plain sight: the foods we eat. Doctors and nutritionists are starting to understand more about how certain nutrients, or lack of them, affect the brain. “Our brain has very high energy and nutrient requirements,” says clinical nutritionist and health coach Melissa Reagan Brunetti, CNC. “Nutritional deficiencies and dietary patterns can affect its function, and alter brain chemistry and the formulation of neurotransmitters—chemicals in the brain that can stimulate and calm.” These neurotransmitters influence our mood as well as our appetite, she says. A study from Ohio State University showed one nutrient that’s especially good for reducing anxious symptoms is omega 3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like wild salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds. “Our brains need fat from dietary sources to function properly,” Brunetti says. “If you are not eating a sufficient amount of beneficial fats, your brain will suffer.” Be sure to check out these 11 tips from top therapists on how to deal with anxiety.
SUMMARY:Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, which may assist in anxiety relief by promoting brain health.
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Salmon
4. Pumpkin seeds / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Eating potassium-rich foods such, as pumpkin seeds or bananas, may help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of the mineral zinc. One study carried out on 100 female high school students found that zinc deficiency may negatively affect mood.
Zinc is essential for brain and nerve development. The largest storage sites of zinc in the body are in the brain regions involved with emotions.
We have to mention that Pumpkin Seeds have many other health benefits for human body and mind.
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
5. Dark chocolate / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Experts have long suspected that dark chocolate might help reduce stress and anxiety. A 2014 study found that 40g of dark chocolate helped reduce perceived stress in female students.
Other studies have generally found that dark chocolate or cocoa may improve mood. However, many of these studies are observational, so the results need to be interpreted with caution.
Although it is still unclear how dark chocolate reduces stress, it is a rich source of polyphenols, especially flavonoids. One study suggested that flavonoids might reduce neuroinflammation and cell death in the brain as well as improve blood flow.
Chocolate has a high tryptophan content, 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 depression.
When choosing dark chocolate, aim for 70 percent or more. Dark chocolate still contains added sugars and fats, so a small serving of 1 to 3 grams (g) is appropriate.
SUMMARY:Dark chocolate may be helpful for improving anxiety due to its stress-reducing antioxidants and ability to increase serotonin levels.
Dark Chocolate has also a lot of other health benefits for your Body
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
6. Turmeric / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Turmeric is a spice commonly used in Indian and South-East Asian cooking. The active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin. Curcumin may help lower anxiety by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress that often increase in people experiencing mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. A 2015 study found that curcumin reduced anxiety in obese adults.
Another study found that an increase of curcumin in the diet also increased DHA and reduced anxiety. Turmeric is easy to add to meals. It has minimal flavor, so goes well in smoothies, curries, and casserole dishes.
SUMMARY:Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may alleviate anxiety symptoms.
Turmeric is definitely a superfood and it can fight many disseases.
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
7. Sweet Potatoes / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Are rich in fiber and complex carbs, which help keep blood sugar levels steady to balance mood. Studies show that high-glycemic foods such as white bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, and fruit juice are associated with increased risk of anxiety. Other high-fiber, low-glycemic carbs include beans, winter squash, artichokes, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, raspberries, and blackberries.
Try this: Cut sweet potatoes into strips, toss with olive oil and paprika, and roast until tender for healthier fries; simmer sweet potatoes, carrots, and ginger in broth till tender, then purée with coconut milk and yellow curry; toss cubes of cooked sweet potato with black beans, yellow corn, minced red onion, and roasted pumpkin seeds.
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
8. Avocado / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Vitamin B6 helps the body make several neurotransmitters, including serotonin, which influences mood. “The B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin, have positive effects on the nervous system. Deficiencies of these vitamins have been linked to increased anxiety in some people,” explains Godfrey. Avocados are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins and heart-healthy fat that may help to lessen anxiety.
Food Swap: Non-Dairy Frozen Avocado Treat Instead of Ice Cream
Avocado ice cream? Yes, you heard that right. Next time you’re reaching for that pint of full-fat, calorie-laden ice-cream, whip up your own frozen avocado treat. Just blend avocado with a ripe banana, vanilla extract, almond milk, and sweetener. Freeze for a few hours and then dig in, knowing you’re boosting those B vitamins as you go!
Learn About All The Health Benefits of the Avocado
9. Blueberries / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
When we’re anxious and stressed, our bodies crave vitamin C to help repair and protect our cells, and blueberries are packed full of it. Small but mighty, blueberries are bursting with antioxidants and vitamin C which have been shown to provide anxiety relief. One study1 examined the effects of oral vitamin C supplements on anxiety in a group of students and found that antioxidants may be useful for both the prevention and reduction of anxiety.
Food Swap: Blueberries Instead of Sugary Sweets
Reaching for sugar when hunger strikes causes the brain to work at sub-optimal level and puts you at greater risk for depressive symptoms associated with anxiety. “The sweetness from blueberries is a better option acting as a positive immune booster; added sugars throw off the healthy bacterial balance in the gut that may increase anxiety,” Godfrey says.
Take a look at All The Health Benefits of Blueberries!
10. Eggs / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Contain choline, a vitamin-like nutrient that’s needed for the production of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that regulate mood and calm anxiety. In one study, people with the highest anxiety levels also had the lowest blood levels of choline. Eggs also contain vitamin D, which helps ease both anxiety and depression. Other good sources of choline include turkey, beef, seaweed, soybeans, and Swiss cheese.
Try this: Mash peeled boiled eggs with avocado and minced red onion for a healthier egg salad; top a salad of grilled escarole, onions, and olives with a soft-poached egg; layer fried eggs, sautéed kale, and salsa on a warm corn tortilla.
I want to know all the health benefits of Eggs!
11. Chard / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Is high in magnesium, which modulates the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, and can reduce anxiety. Low levels of dietary magnesium have been linked with increased anxiety, and magnesium deficiency adversely affects probiotic balance in the gut and exacerbates symptoms of anxiety. Seaweed, pumpkin, soybeans, peanuts, nuts, seeds, and spinach are also high in magnesium.
Try this: Sauté chopped chard in olive oil with golden raisins, chopped radicchio, and shallots; fry chopped chard with white beans, garlic, and red pepper flakes; purée chard leaves with basil, garlic, olive oil, and shredded Asiago cheese for a nutrient-dense pesto.
All the health benefits of Swiss Chard
12. Almonds / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Researchers have shown that magnesium may be an effective treatment for anxiety-related symptoms, as inadequate magnesium reduces the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Just 1 ounce of almonds (that’s about 12 nuts) contains 75mg of magnesium which is 19% of your daily recommended value. You can also find magnesium in foods such as legumes, seeds, and—everyone’s favorite—avocado.
Food Swap: Almonds Instead of Cookies
Consuming artery-clogging trans fats, like those found in cookies, can increase your risk of depression by as much as 48%, according to one study.4 “Snack on nuts rather than cookies to ensure you are getting healthy fats and fiber that promote gut health, rather than the sugar that interrupts good bacteria,” says Godfrey. Next time you need a crunch, reach for a handful of almonds instead of reaching for cookies. If you are in dire need of a sweet, throw in a few dark chocolate chips with the almonds.
All the health benefits of Swiss Chard
13. Yogurt / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
If you suffer from anxiety, yogurt is a great food to include in your diet.
Studies have shown that probiotic foods like yogurt may promote mental health and brain function by inhibiting free radicals and neurotoxins, which can damage nerve tissue in the brain and lead to anxiety (33, 34).
In one study, anxious individuals who consumed probiotic yogurt daily were better able to cope with stress than those who consumed yogurt without probiotics (35).
Another study found that women who consumed 4.4 ounces (125 grams) of yogurt twice daily for four weeks had better functioning of the brain regions that control emotion and sensation, which may be associated with lower anxiety levels (36).
These findings are promising, but more human research is necessary to confirm the beneficial effects that yogurt may have on anxiety reduction.
It is also important to note that not all yogurt contains probiotics. For the benefits of probiotics, choose a yogurt that has live active cultures listed as an ingredient.
SUMMARY:Yogurt contains probiotics, which may have a positive effect on brain health and anxiety levels.
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Yogurt
14. Brown Rice / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Contains a variety of B vitamins, which are crucial for the production of dopamine, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Thiamine (vitamin B) has been shown to reduce anxiety and related symptoms, including headache, insomnia, and nightmares, and in one study, adults who took a B-vitamin complex had fewer symptoms of anxiety and an overall improvement in mood. Other good sources of B vitamins include nutritional yeast, split peas, spinach, barley, oats, nuts, and seeds.
Try this: Stir-fry cooked rice with diced carrots, green peas, scallions, eggs, and tamari for easy fried rice; sauté cooked rice in butter with thinly sliced mushrooms, onions, and almonds; mix cooked brown rice with mashed avocado, spread on a sheet of nori, layer with radish sprouts and shredded carrots, and roll up.
Brown Rice has also a lot of other health benefits for your body.
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Yogurt
15. Kidney Beans / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Are high in tryptophan, an amino acid that boosts serotonin and has a calming effect. Several studies have linked low dietary tryptophan with increased anxiety and stress, and consuming more dietary tryptophan has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. Soybeans, poultry, eggs, cheese, and pumpkin seeds are also good sources of tryptophan.
Try this: Purée kidney beans with chopped onion, minced garlic, olive oil, and cumin for an easy dip or spread; chop kidney beans, red bell pepper, scallions, parsley, flaxseed, and cooked rice in a food processor, form into patties, and grill or fry; simmer kidney beans, yellow onions, and tomatoes in coconut milk spiced with turmeric and cayenne for a traditional African dish.
Kidney Beans have also a lot of other great health benefits for your body!
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Kidney Beans
16. Cashews / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Are high in zinc, which is associated with the regulation of GABA and has anti-anxiety effects. Zinc deficiency is common in several psychiatric conditions, including depression and bipolar disorder, and studies have shown that people with anxiety have lower levels of zinc. Other foods that are high in zinc include oyster, crab, lobster, pumpkin seeds, adzuki beans, nuts, beef, and chicken.
Try this: Purée cashew butter with garlic powder, onion powder, dried dill, and a splash of apple cider vinegar for a nutrient-dense, dairy-free ranch dressing; sauté cashews, broccoli florets, chopped scallions, and red pepper flakes in sesame oil; roast cashews, cauliflower, tomatoes, onions, and green peppers till tender, then toss with cooked penne pasta and shredded Asiago cheese.
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Cashews
17. Coconut oil and grass-fed ghee / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Your brain is made of fats, so are the myelin sheaths lining all of your neurons. Give your brain and nerves the building blocks they’re made of!
The MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) found in coconut oil have been shown to improve cognitive functioning.
Ghee has been studied for it’s anti-inflammatory, gut healing, brain-boosting properties, mostly thanks to the butyrate (found in both butter and ghee), which is a short-chain saturated fat that feeds and rejuvenates the cells lining your gut.
As mentioned at the start of this post, eating fats is also part of the blood-stabilization strategy to manage mood and appetite, so for the best brain-body results, eat lots of good fats at every meal.
Test-drive this kind of balanced diet for a week or two and see if your anxiety evens out. My educated guess is it will, and you won’t want to look back.
Coconut oil has a lot of other health benefits for your body.
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
18. Oysters / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Zinc plays a big role in the both the immune and nervous system. People with anxiety have significantly lower plasma levels of zinc and higher levels of copper.
Stress and anxiety tend to deplete zinc, so add oysters, sesame seeds (e.g. tahini), lentils, beef, and lamb to your list of stress-fighting foods.
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
19. Spinach / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Spinach is one of the foods to help reduce anxiety. One cup of spinach has 157 mg of Magnesium which makes 40% of your daily need. Magnesium is a mineral responsible for more than 300 biochemical functions in the body including regulating Cortisol and lowering blood pressure. According to studies, a lower Magnesium intake can be associated with depression and mood swings.
Spinach is definitely a superfood and it has a lot of other health benefits.
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Spinach
20. Oatmeal / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Plan your breakfast and stock up on your oatmeal and porridge oats. They offer the best start to your morning for numerous reasons and are powerful for those losing weight. Some of these benefits are in the fiber.
You’re left feeling fuller, while your digestive system is supported. When you get rid of hunger pangs and digestive pain, you can release more happy hormones into the system.
At the same time, oatmeal is full of calming properties. The food will help to keep the stress hormones at bay, so you don’t feel the adrenaline rush and then have to deal with the anxiety that follows it. If you opt for course oats you’ll get these benefits for longer throughout the day.
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Oatmeal
21. Oranges / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Vitamin C is one of those vitamins that the body can’t create or store. You need to get it on a daily basis if you want to support your health. The good news is that it is one of the easiest vitamins to get into your diet.
You just need to eat any orange (or red and yellow) coloured fruit. This includes oranges, which are the easiest and often cheapest fruits to get hold of. There are so many different types of oranges too, whether you like peeling Clementines or you prefer wedges to use. You can also get orange in juice form to get some of the vitamins easily.
How does vitamin C help to eliminate anxiety? Well, it helps to support the immune system to aid with recovering from illnesses and keeping illnesses at bay. Vitamin C has also been linked to reducing the blood pressure and cortisol in the system. We’ve already looked at how both of these will help to keep your anxiety at bay.
Eating oranges is going to be better, since you get the fiber. If you drink a lot of orange juice you will get a lot of sugar into your system, which causes problems for your metabolism and insulin response. If you prefer to drink, add some oranges to your water to keep the hydration up but still get the vitamin benefits.
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Orange
22. Garlic / Foods to reduce Anxiety and Depression
Like many plants, garlic is jam-packed with powerful antioxidants. These chemicals neutralize free radicals (particles that damage our cells, cause diseases, and encourage aging) and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage the free radicals cause over time. Among the compounds in garlic is allicin, which has been linked to fending off heart disease, cancer, and even the common cold. Because stress weakens our immune system, we need friends like garlic, which can toughen it back up. As long as you saute it in broth, not oil, you can add it liberally to all the meals on the plan.
Learn About All The Health Benefits of Garlic
Sources: Healthline, SelfHacked, MedicalNewsToday, Organic Facts.