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List of Best Foods for Anxiety Relief

A list of best foods for anxiety relief helps you choose foods to help anxiety. Check out the definitive list of best foods for anxiety on HealthyPlace

Keeping a list of best foods for anxiety relief is an effective way to develop a habit of eating brain-healthy snacks and meals. Doing so can decrease anxiety on a long-term basis. Use this list for shopping and for choosing what to eat when you’re hungry. A list of best foods for anxiety relief can be a prominent tool in your anxiety-reducing toolbox.

The first step is choosing what foods to include in your food index. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best foods for anxiety. The list is compiled from the latest research into foods and anxiety control. Scientists have been able to pinpoint what the brain needs to avoid anxiety as well as which foods contain brain-boosting, anxiety-reducing nutrients. The foods on the below list of best foods for anxiety relief are proven to be good for your brain and your anxiety.

A List of Best Foods for Anxiety Relief

To prevent and overcome anxiety, the brain needs a variety of natural, healthy foods. An anxiety-friendly diet has:

  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Low glycemic foods (which includes complex carbs plus other foods)
  • Proteins, especially tryptophan
  • B vitamins
  • Antioxidants
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc

List of Foods for Anxiety Relief: Complex Carbohydrates

Carbs provide energy and boost mood. Some are better for mental health than others, though. Simple carbs like sugars and refined flours are absorbed quickly, providing a burst of energy followed by a crash. The more simple carbs we eat, the less stable our blood sugar is. Blood glucose fluctuations can cause or worsen anxiety (learn more about how sugar can make anxiety symptoms worse).

Opting for complex carbs keeps blood sugar stable and provides the brain with a steady supply of quality fuel. Some examples of complex carbohydrates:

  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Whole-grain breads
  • Whole-grain cereals
  • Whole-grain pastas

Anxiety-Relieving Foods: Low-Glycemic Foods

Many people associate the glycemic index (GI) with diabetes. Watching foods’ GI is imperative for those with diabetes, but it is a good idea for those with anxiety, too. Like complex carbs, low-GI foods are absorbed slowly and keep blood sugar level as well as provide a stable, reliable stream of nutrients to the brain. In addition to complex carbs like the ones listed above, these are some low-GI foods that help anxiety:

  • Hummus
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Lentils
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Milk
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries

List of Proteins to Lower Anxiety

Some of the best foods for anxiety relief are proteins. Proteins provide the amino acids the brain needs to make neurotransmitters. Anxiety can have a strong neurochemical component, which includes the proper balance of chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Look especially for the protein tryptophan. Try:

  • Beans
  • Cheese
  • Chicken and other lean meats
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Soy products
  • Yogurt, especially with probiotics

More Best Foods for Anxiety: B Vitamins

The many B vitamins calm the brain, reduce the effects of stress, aid in the production of neurotransmitters needed to keep anxiety at bay and more. They’re found in a variety of foods, such as:

  • Almonds and other nuts
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Dairy products
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables
  • Dates
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lean meat
  • Legumes
  • Oranges
  • Peas
  • Peaches
  • Pineapples
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Whole grains

Best Foods for Anxiety Relief: Antioxidants

Antioxidants are a group of vitamins that play an important role in brain health and functioning. This list highlights some sources of antioxidants:

Beta-carotene:

  • Apricots
  • Broccoli
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Collard greens
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato

Vitamin C:

  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Citrus
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Tomato

Vitamin E:

  • Margarine
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Vegetable oils
  • Wheat germ

Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Anxiety Relief

Low levels of omega-3 fats in the body are linked to anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Omega-3s reduce inflammation, assist new cell growth, and improve nerve transmissions. The body can’t make them, so it relies exclusively on the right foods to obtain them. A List of best foods for anxiety relief wouldn’t be complete without these foods high in essential fatty acids:

  • Fish (especially fatty fish like salmon, herring, anchovies, and sardines, for example)
  • Nuts
  • Avocado
  • Olive oil

List of Foods Containing Magnesium and Zinc

The minerals magnesium and zinc are critical minerals for mental health. Part of their role in brain operations is to aid in the functioning of neurotransmitters; therefore, they have a direct impact on anxiety. Deficiencies in these minerals mean deficiencies in calming and anxiety-reducing neurotransmitters. Magnesium- and zinc-rich foods for anxiety relief include:

Magnesium:

  • Almonds and other nuts
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Dairy
  • Fish and other seafood
  • Lean meats like poultry
  • Legumes
  • Lima beans
  • Seeds
  • Spinach
  • Wheat germ
  • Whole grains

Zinc:

  • Beef
  • Cashews
  • Egg yolks
  • Liver
  • Oysters

This list of best foods for anxiety relief isn’t comprehensive. To be sure, there are other foods containing these nutrients. The list is meant to give you a starting point so you can jump in and make healthy changes to your diet right away. The sooner you give your brain more of what it needs, the sooner you can begin to experience anxiety relief.

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2018, May 22). List of Best Foods for Anxiety Relief, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, May 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/list-of-best-foods-for-anxiety-relief

Last Updated: 2019, May 15

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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