Fruits That Help With Anxiety are healthy ways in which we can help relieve our anxiety and promote natural health such as berries, apples, melon, and cherries can alleviate stress and anxiety; the red family of fruits including strawberries, cherries, and plums also have positive effects in the body.
5 Foods That Help Ease Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health conditions, affecting approximately 7.3% 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
In many cases, medication is often required as a main course of treatment. However, there are several strategies you can also use to help reduce anxiety symptoms, from exercising to breathing techniques.
Additionally, there are many foods you can eat that may help support brain function and lower the severity of your symptoms, mostly due to their brain-boosting properties.
Here are 5 science-backed foods and beverages that may help ease anxiety.
Salmon may be beneficial for reducing anxiety.
It contains nutrients that promote brain health, including vitamin D and the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
These nutrients may help regulate the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which can have calming and relaxing properties
In particular, a diet rich in EPA and DHA is associated with lower rates of anxiety. It’s believed these fatty acids may reduce inflammation and prevent brain cell dysfunction which is common in people with anxiety
This may also support your brain’s ability to adapt to changes, allowing you to better handle stressors that trigger anxiety symptoms.
Vitamin D has also been studied for the positive effects in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. One 2020 meta-analysis showed that vitamin D supplementation was associated with lower rates of negative mood disorders
In another study, males who ate Atlantic salmon 3 times per week for 5 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
For the most benefit, try adding salmon to your diet 2–3 times per week.
Chamomile is an herb that may help reduce anxiety.
It contains both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help lower inflammation associated with anxiety
Though the mechanisms aren’t clear, chamomile is believed to help regulate neurotransmitters related to mood such as serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
It may also help regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis, a central part of the body’s stress response
Some studies have examined the association between chamomile extract and anxiety relief.
One 38-week randomized study in 179 people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) experienced a significantly greater reduction in symptoms after consuming 1,500 milligrams of chamomile extract per day compared to those who did not
Another older 2012 study found similar results, noting that those who consumed chamomile extract for 8 weeks experienced reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. Though, the study’s low sample size could not provide enough statistical power to demonstrate cause-and-effect
While these results are promising, most studies have been conducted on chamomile extract. More recent research is necessary to evaluate the anti-anxiety effects of chamomile tea, which is most commonly consumed.
Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin — a compound studied for its role in promoting brain health and preventing anxiety disorders
Known for its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin may help to prevent damage to brain cells related to chronic inflammation and oxidative stress
Moreover, animal studies suggest curcumin may increase the conversion of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) — an omega-3 found in plants — to DHA more effectively and increase DHA levels in the brain
One double-blind, randomized study in 80 people with diabetes found daily supplementation of nano-curcumin — a smaller, more bioavailable form of curcumin — for 8 weeks resulted in significantly lower anxiety scores compared to a placebo
In another small, randomized crossover study, consuming 1 gram of curcumin per day for 30 days was shown to significantly lower anxiety scores, compared to a placebo
Though promising, most studies observed the effects of curcumin supplementation rather than obtaining curcumin from turmeric. Therefore, more research in this area is needed.
That said, incorporating turmeric into your diet is certainly worth a try. To increase curcumin absorption, try pairing it with black pepper
4. Dark chocolate
Incorporating some dark chocolate into your diet may also help ease anxiety.
Dark chocolate contains flavonols, such as epicatechin and catechin, which are plant compounds that act as antioxidants.
Some research suggests that the flavonols found in dark chocolate may benefit brain function and have neuroprotective effects. In particular, flavonols may increase blood flow to the brain and enhance cell-signaling pathways
These effects may allow you to adjust better to stressful situations that can lead to anxiety and other mood disorders.
Some researchers also suggest that dark chocolate’s role in brain health may simply be due to its taste, which can be comforting for those with mood disorders
One cross-sectional study of 13,626 participants found those who consumed dark chocolate had significantly lower symptoms of depression compared to those who seldom ate dark chocolate
Furthermore, one review of nine studies concluded that consuming cocoa-rich products could improve short-term mood and affect
While this is promising, more research investigating dark chocolate’s long-term effects on anxiety and mood is needed. Further, dark chocolate is best consumed in moderation, as it’s high in calories and easy to overeat. For best results, enjoy a 1- to 1.5-ounce serving at a time.
The probiotics, or healthy bacteria, found in some types of yogurt may improve several aspects of your well-being, including mental health
Though still an emerging field of research, probiotics may support the gut-brain axis — an intricate system between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain. In particular, research suggests healthy gut bacteria may be linked with better mental health
Further, probiotic foods like yogurt may promote mental health and brain function by reducing inflammation and increasing the production of mood-boosting neurotransmitters, such as serotonin
According to one study, consuming probiotic yogurt daily for 6 weeks was associated with improved anxiety, stress, and quality of life in postmenopausal females
Though a promising field of research, more human trials are needed to explore the direct relationship between yogurt consumption and anxiety.
It’s also important to note that not all yogurt contains probiotics. For the benefits of probiotics, choose a yogurt with live active cultures listed as an ingredient.
6. Green tea
Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that’s been studied for the positive effects it may have on brain health and anxiety
In one double-blind, randomized study, participants who consumed a beverage containing L-theanine reported significantly lower subjective stress and decreased cortisol levels, a stress hormone linked with anxiety
These effects may be due to L-theanine’s potential to prevent nerves from becoming overexcited. Additionally, L-theanine may increase GABA, dopamine, and serotonin, neurotransmitters that have been shown to have anti-anxiety effects
Moreover, green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant suggested to promote brain health. It may play a role in reducing certain symptoms by also increasing GABA in the brain
Interestingly, the combination of L-theanine, EGCG, and other compounds found within green tea appears to play a synergistic role in promoting calmness and alleviating anxiety and may be more effective together than as separate ingredients
That said, more research is needed.
Almonds are a great source of several nutrients thought to promote brain function, including vitamin E and healthy fats
In fact, some animal studies have found that almonds could reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, which could be involved in the development of anxiety
Almonds may also offer other mood-boosting properties.
For instance, one study found that increased consumption of nuts, including almonds, was associated with decreased symptoms of depression
Another study in 3,172 adults showed that males who consumed the highest amount of nuts were 66% less likely to experience anxiety than those who consumed the lowest amount. However, this association was not observed for females
Therefore, more high quality studies are needed to understand how almonds may impact mood and anxiety.
Blueberries are high in vitamin C and other antioxidants, such as flavonoids, that have been studied for their ability to improve brain health and relieve anxiety
One 4-week study found that daily supplementation with wild blueberries was linked to fewer self-reported symptoms of depression in 64 adolescents
Some animal studies also suggest that certain compounds found in blueberries may reduce oxidative stress and ease symptoms of depression and anxiety
Plus, some studies have even found that increased intake of fruits, such as blueberries, may be tied to a lower risk of anxiety
Still, additional studies are needed to evaluate the effects of blueberries on anxiety.
Eggs are an excellent source of tryptophan, a neurotransmitter that may be beneficial for anxiety symptoms
According to one study, inadequate protein intake and tryptophan — both of which are plentiful in eggs — could be associated with higher anxiety levels
Eggs also contain vitamin D, with around 6% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) in one large egg
Some research has found that low vitamin D levels may be associated with increased symptoms of depression and anxiety
However, while several of the nutrients in eggs may be beneficial, further research is necessary to understand the effects of eggs on anxiety specifically
Can I Eat My Way Calm?
Say No to Ice Cream, Say Yes to Berries
As much as you may want to, you can’t make yourself feel better with a bowl of your favorite ice cream. It won’t help — the problem is all that sugar. Spikes in your blood sugar can bring on changes in your hormone levels. They can start with “jitteriness” and eventually lead to crashes. But other foods may help boost your mood.
These have lots of antioxidants, which help protect your cells from stress and may help ease feelings of depression. You can get them from nuts, beans, walnuts, or green vegetables, too.
If this one leaves a bad taste in your mouth, almost any leafy green will do — kale, collard greens, or Swiss chard. The key is the magnesium, which may help you feel calmer. Make sure you get enough of that mineral to help keep things in check.
This is a complex carb — it gets into your system slowly and gives you a steady flow of energy that can help keep you on an even keel. It also can give you a boost of a brain chemical called serotonin that can lift your mood.
The flavonoids in the cocoa help protect your cells. They’re a type of antioxidant that may also help lower your blood pressure, boost the blood flow to your brain and heart, and make you less anxious. The dark stuff — at least 70% cocoa — is best, but don’t overdo it. The caffeine in chocolate can make anxiety worse if you have too much, and no one needs a lot of extra fat and calories.
Zinc is a mineral that helps our bodies deal with stress. Some diets may not include enough of this mineral. Zinc can be found in oysters, a salt water mollusk. If oysters aren’t your thing, you can get it from cashews, liver, beef, poultry, or eggs, too.
You may think of vitamin C when you think of these citrus fruits, and that’s a big reason it might help your anxiety. Some studies have shown that a diet rich in it may help calm you and put you in a better frame of mind.
These little fish aren’t for everyone, but they have lots of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help with depression and anxiety. The reason for that may be related to the way they can ease inflammation. If sardines are too fishy for you, try salmon or albacore tuna, which are lighter but also have plenty of omega-3s.
This one can be a blessing or a curse — the issue is the caffeine. A couple of cups of black coffee a day may boost your mood and energy, and up to four cups seems to be OK for most people. But more than that can make you jittery and anxious, and some people are more sensitive to it.
For some, the ritual of a cup of tea has a calming effect. Certain herbs — lavender and chamomile, for example — may help, too, along with the antioxidants in the tea leaves themselves. Just make sure you don’t get too much caffeine. Many teas have that, too.
5 Foods That Help or Hurt Anxiety
Studies show that some foods boost mood while others worsen stress and anxiety. Learn about foods to eat or avoid to reduce anxiety.
Looking for food that helps with anxiety? Studies have shown that some foods make us feel calmer while other foods can act as stimulants — at least temporarily. If you experience stress that results in anxiety or panic attacks, making some modifications to your diet may give anxiety help and relief.
Stress describes the many demands and pressures that all of us experience each day. Stress may be physical, mental, emotional, or chemical in nature. Just about anything you encounter can cause stress.
Anxiety is a sign or symptom of stress. Quite often it is the persistent interruptions, hassles, and struggles you face each day that cause anxiety, not life’s catastrophes or disasters. For instance, listening to a phone ringing constantly, hearing a new baby’s cries, or worrying about paying bills can cause stress that leads to anxiety.
When you are anxious for days or weeks, it is called chronic anxiety. The problem with chronic anxiety is that it can lead to health problems over the long term. While there are no quick fixes, you can combat the destructive effects by eating to boost or reduce certain chemicals in your body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, your diet cannot cure anxiety. But there are foods that help with anxiety and have a calming effect in the body, while other foods cause anxiety after eating.
Here are some suggestions:
- Choose foods such as complex carbs that boost the calming brain chemical serotonin. Select whole-grain breads and whole grain cereals instead of sugary snacks or beverages.
- Eat protein at breakfast, so you have energy and your blood glucose levels stay steady.
- Limit or avoid alcohol and caffeine, which cause anxiety after eating. Both affect your sleep and can cause edginess.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause mood changes.
To boost your mood, consider adding the following to your diet:
- Folate and other B vitamins
- Low-glycemic foods
- Omega-3 fatty acids
In addition, consider adding foods high in zinc to your diet. Findings show that oysters, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks have been linked to lowered anxiety.
Also, a study published in August 2015 the journal Psychiatry Research found a link between probiotic foods and a lowering of social anxiety. Probiotic foods include pickles, sauerkraut, and kefir. A new study published in 2017 in the journal Annals of General Psychiatry linked probiotics with improving symptoms of major depressive disorder, possibly by either decreasing inflammation in the body or by increasing the availability of serotonin, the calming brain chemical. Anxiety may be linked to depression.
Check out the following five foods you may want to add to your diet to boost your mood, and four foods you may want to avoid because they can increase stress and even possibly cause a depressed mood.
5 Foods That Help Or Hurt Anxiety
Food to Eat: Turkey and Tryptophan-Rich Foods
Some researchers believe that tryptophan can have a positive effect on stress because this amino acid helps your brain produce feel-good chemicals. “Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter, helps you feel calm,” says San Francisco nutritionist Manuel Villacorta, RD, a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association (now known as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).
You will find tryptophan in a variety of foods: turkey, chicken, bananas, milk, oats, cheese, soy, nuts, peanut butter, and sesame seeds. Note that there is some question about whether tryptophan found in food crosses the blood-brain barrier, so the effect may not be a dramatic one.
Beef and Foods Rich in Vitamin B Ease Anxiety
Studies have shown a relationship between the B vitamins, including thiamine or vitamin B1, and mood. A deficiency in B vitamins, such as folic acid and B12, can trigger depression in some people. You can take a vitamin B supplement or eat foods that are rich in B vitamins to ward off anxiety. These foods that help with anxiety include beef, pork, chicken, leafy greens, legumes, oranges and other citrus fruits, rice, nuts, and eggs.
Complex Carbs Are Foods That Lift Mood
Carbohydrates also increase production of serotonin in the brain. When choosing mood-lifting carbs, go for whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread or brown rice, rather than processed choices, such as sugar, candy, or even white bread and white rice, Villacorta says. Whole grains take longer for the body to break down, and release sugar into the bloodstream slowly. Processed carbs may give you an initial surge of energy, but that can be followed by an insulin rush, which rapidly drops blood sugar levels, ultimately leaving you feeling lethargic.
Include Omega-3-Rich Foods to Help With Anxiety
Evidence continues to mount 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. A possible side benefit: Omega-3s may reduce risk of heart disease.
Eat Greek Yogurt and High-Protein Foods To Boost Alertness
Protein helps stimulate the production of the brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine, which, like serotonin, are neurotransmitters and carry impulses between nerve cells. Higher levels of norepinephrine and dopamine have been shown to improve alertness, mental energy, and reaction time, Villacorta says. Good sources of protein include Greek yogurt, fish, meats, cheese, eggs, nuts, beans, soy, and lentils. “The ideal for mood boosting,” Villacorta says, “is to combine complex carbohydrates and protein, and to spread your meals throughout the day.”