10 Whole Foods to Reduce Anxiety and Promote Wellness
Updated: Jul 11, 2022
Eating well does not solely affect our physical health, but also connects to our mental health and overall wellbeing. Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions, affecting millions of people globally. Healthy diets can help with alleviating the overwhelming symptoms of anxiety that can interfere with one’s daily life.
Read along to find 10 foods that you can incorporate into your daily meals to help relieve stress and anxiety:
A great healthy snack or meal add-on, nuts help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, in addition to keeping you feeling full and your muscles strong. From cashews to almonds, nuts are wonderful sources of plant-based protein and are rich in iron, zinc, and fiber, among other vital nutrients. Adding just a few to your salad or morning snack is an easy way to get a perfect balance of protein, healthy fats, and slow-burning carbs.
At only 70 calories, a single egg is an incredibly nutrient-rich food. In fact, eggs are considered complete proteins, meaning they contain all of the important amino acids that are critical for the growth and development of our brains. Eggs also contain B-vitamins and choline, a B-vitamin cousin that has been connected to reduced rates of anxiety symptoms. So easy to prepare and affordable, eggs are a great addition to your go-to meals!
#3 Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are rich in iron, zinc, fiber, and many more essential vitamins that boost brain health, reduce feelings of stress, and promote calmness of the mind. Try tossing some into your favorite salad or adding them to your morning smoothie!
A powerful flavor used in thousands of different meals across Eastern and Western cultures, Turmeric contains the active ingredient curcumin. Curcumin helps relieve anxiety as it reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the mind and body. For an extra brain boost, add some black pepper when you use turmeric to increase the absorption of curcumin.
#5 Green & Black Teas
There are so many incredible green and black teas out there, perfect for your morning pick-me-up! These teas are full of polyphenols and antioxidants, and are associated with numerous health benefits, including feelings of serenity and an overall reduction in anxiety. They are also wonderful ways to reduce your caffeine intake, because while many varieties do contain some caffeine, they tend to contain far less than a cup of coffee... and too much caffeine is often linked to feelings of anxiety.
#6 Yogurt & Other Fermented Foods
Incorporating more good microbiome bugs into your diet is so important. Regularly eating fermented foods (think yogurt, miso, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, sourdough, and kombucha) is any easy way to get more good bacteria in your system to boost overall brain health.
Salmon, tuna, trout, sardines (the list goes on...) are all excellent protein sources containing large amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress. Some seafood, such as oysters, are also rich in zinc, another anxiety-reliever. Zinc helps maintain healthy nervous system function, which links directly to how our brains process stress.
Asparagus contains several anti-anxiety properties and delivers a high dose of antioxidants. This vegetable is also a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that produces serotonin in the human body, thereby naturally alleviating symptoms of anxiety. Not only does eating asparagus calm anxiety symptoms, but it can also balance your mood and is linked to healthy sleep cycles.
#9 Leafy Greens + Avocados
Leafy greens such as spinach and swiss chard are naturally rich in the calming and anxiety-relieving mineral, magnesium. Avocados are a great source of vitamin B and contain heart-healthy fat, which lessens stress and anxiety.
#10 Dark Chocolate
Saved the best for last! Not only is dark chocolate delicious, but eating it on a daily basis is linked to increased feelings of contentment and calm. In fact, it has been reported that those who enjoy dark chocolate regularly are 70% less likely to report depression.
Source: Ramsey, D. (2021). Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety : Nourish Your Way to Better Mental Health in Six Weeks. HarperCollins Publishers.