Many people do not realize that certain foods can help with anxiety.  Various types of nutrients can influence our moods and emotions, both in a good and bad way.   That is because food can effect neurotransmitters – the body’s chemical messengers.  Eating fruits and vegetables has proven to lower stress levels and ease the effects of anxiety and depression.

Here are some foods that are known to lower anxiety.

Leafy greens:

Leafy greens are rich in magnesium, which is known for healthy bones but is also helpful in treating anxiety and improve mild symptoms. Examples of these include spinach, Swiss chard, and kale.  As an added bonus, kale and spinach are high in vitamin C.  This is key, as a deficiency in vitamin C has been linked to higher levels of anxiety and stress.

Dark Chocolate:

Research has shown that eating just 40 grams of dark chocolate per day was shown to reduce stress levels.  This may be due to the high flavanol content, which has been linked to lower stress, and improved blood flow (which can be restricted when feeling anxious).  Dark chocolate also contains magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese, which are considered stress-busting nutrients.

Oily Fish:

Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel are good for heart health however; research has also shown that the omega-3 found in these fish may help reduce anxiety.

Green Tea:

One of the main ingredients in green tea is L-theanine, an amino acid that works with the body’s neurotransmitters. In addition to lowering anxiety and stress, studies have shown that it can improve sleep and overall cognitive health.  Green tea is also loaded with antioxidants that can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Fermented Foods:

Keeping your gut healthy also affects mental wellness.  Fermented foods contain high amounts of probiotics that help to keep the gut balanced and healthy.  This in turn has shown to reduce stress and anxiety.  As well, the majority of serotonin (the happy chemical that is linked to enhancing your mood) is produced in the gut, so the healthier your gut is the more serotonin your body will produce.  Try some of these fermented foods: miso, kombucha, kefir, and sauerkraut.

Vitamin B6:

Vitamin B6 deficiency is linked to higher anxiety and stress levels. Vitamin B6’s influence on neurotransmitters focusses on serotonin and the “pleasure” chemical dopamine.  If you want to increase your B6 intake focus on the following foods: sweet potato, wild salmon, eggs, beef, and spinach.

Of course, there are also foods to avoid that will enhance the effects of anxiety and other mental health issues.  These include:

  • sugar
  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • processed foods

Feeling stressed and worried about certain things is normal. However when anxiety effects your life it may be time to speak to a doctor or therapist.