In a Food Mood: Here’s what you should eat to ease your anxiety
11/27/2020 / By Leslie Locklear / Comments
In a Food Mood: Here’s what you should eat to ease your anxiety

Looks like that particular phrase about eating your feelings may have some basis after all.

Anxiety is a disorder characterized by constant worry and nervousness and is considered to be a widespread condition, with data from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America noting that nearly 18 percent or roughly 40 million people in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder in any given year.

What’s even more alarming is that approximately eight percent of American children and teenagers experience an anxiety disorder, with most of them developing symptoms before reaching the age of 21.

The most common way to address this condition, as noted in present studies, is through the use of medication — some of which have been linked to negative side effects.

Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to help reduce anxiety symptoms, one of which is through your diet.

Want to relieve and address the signs of anxiety the natural way? Here are some foods you can eat to help minimize the severity of your symptoms:

Brazil nuts

Native to the forests of the Amazon, Brazil nuts are known for being high in selenium — a mineral that is said to help improve your mood by reducing inflammation.

In addition, selenium is also an antioxidant, which helps prevent damage from occurring in the body’s cells, including the neurons — a brain booster, if you will.

Aside from that, Brazil nuts are also a good source of vitamin E, another antioxidant that, according to experts, can be beneficial for treating anxiety.

Brazil nuts also contain high amounts of ellagic acid, an antioxidant that has been found to have antidepressant properties.

Fatty fish

If you’re fond of eating fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and herring, then congratulations: you may have a lower risk for developing anxiety and other mood disorders.

This is because fatty fish are naturally high in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which are known for having positive effects on both cognitive function and mental health.

As noted in several studies, both EPA and DHA help maintain optimal cognitive function by regulating the brain’s neurotransmitters, as well as by reducing inflammation. This means that regularly eating fatty fish can result in improvements in your mental health.


Feeling a bit down? Go grab an egg salad. Or a poached egg. Or an omelet. Whatever tickles your fancy.

As noted by nutritionists, this is because eggs contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps create the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter that is best known for helping to regulate your mood, sleep, memory and behavior. Nicknamed the “Happy Hormone,” serotonin is also thought to relieve anxiety as well as improve your brain function.

Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are more than just bar food — they are also an excellent source of potassium, which experts say, may help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Aside from potassium, pumpkin seeds are also a good source of zinc, which is essential for optimal brain and nerve development. Zinc is also known to be stored in the brain regions involved with emotions, which could explain why having low levels of this mineral negatively affects your mood.

Pumpkin seeds are also incredibly rich in tryptophan, making it an ideal snack for those times when you feel too overwhelmed with emotions.

Dark chocolate

When it comes to improving your mood, nothing beats a bite from a dark chocolate bar.

This is mainly because chocolate has a high tryptophan content, which the body uses to turn into mood-enhancing neurotransmitters, such as serotonin

In addition, dark chocolate is a rich source of flavonoids which can help reduce inflammation and cell death in the brain, thereby ensuring its optimal health.

Aside from that, dark chocolate is also a good source of magnesium, another mineral that can help reduce symptoms of depression and other mood disorders.

Thinking of getting a dark chocolate bar as an afternoon snack? Make sure you watch your portions. This is because dark chocolate, its antioxidants notwithstanding, still contains added sugars and fats.

Green tea

Feeling a bit panicky? Brew a cup of green tea.

Green tea contains an amino acid called theanine, which has anti-anxiety and calming effects on the brain.

This, experts say, could be linked to theanine’s ability to help elevate the production of serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters known for regulating your emotions, concentration, alertness and sleep.

Want to add more theanine into your diet? Just brew — and then chill — a large pot of green tea. Pack it in reusable bottles or tumblers and use it as a refreshing and healthy replacement for sugar-laden soft drinks and other beverages.

Fermented foods

Who knew eating food riddled with (good) bacteria can help improve your mental health?

According to experts, this is because good bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria — both of which are present in fermented foods such as yogurt — can help combat chronic inflammation, which according to research, may be partly responsible for mental problems such as anxiety, stress and depression.

In addition, several other studies have shown that foods rich in probiotics can help promote optimal mental health and brain function by inhibiting free radicals and neurotoxins, which can damage the brain’s delicate tissues which can then lead to more serious problems.

Aside from yogurt, other fermented foods that are rich in probiotics include cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi and fermented soy products.

What other foods can I eat to help with my anxiety?

Aside from the foods mentioned above, there are other foods that you can eat that are rich in nutrients thought to improve anxiety-related symptoms.

  • Bananas: One of the most widely consumed fruits in the US, bananas are incredibly rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted to serotonin in the body.
  • Chia seeds: Just like fatty fish, chia seeds are a good source of brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids. This makes them a viable alternative to fatty fish for vegans.
  • Citrus fruits and bell peppers: Known for their tangy and spicy flavors, these fruits — yes, bell peppers are fruits in our book — are both incredibly rich in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation and prevent damage to cells that may promote anxiety.
  • Almonds: Similar to Brazil nuts, almonds contain a significant amount of vitamin E, a potent vitamin and antioxidant that has been linked to optimal cognitive health.
  • Blueberries: One of the most nutrient-dense — not to mention delicious — fruits on the planet, blueberries are high in vitamin C and other antioxidants that have been linked to improvements in brain health and anxiety relief.
  • Spinach and Swiss chard: These leafy greens are both high in magnesium, which means that — just like dark chocolate – they can help curb the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Cinnamon: Commonly added to hot cocoa and hot buns, cinnamon possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which means it can help stave off chronic inflammation which can be detrimental to you mental health.

Chocolate-Spinach Smoothie

A  rich and thick drink, this smoothie, adapted from a recipe by My Nourished Home, blends together nutrient-packed ingredients — bananas, cocoa powder and spinach — into one delicious mix that even the most vehement non-veggie lover would love.


  • 2 whole ripe, frozen organic bananas
  • 2 cups milk of your choice (unpasteurized dairy, organic coconut or organic almond milk)
  • 2-3 cups fresh organic spinach, washed
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened, organic cocoa powder
  • 2-3 tbsp organic almond or peanut butter


  1. Add all ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Add more or less milk to reach your desired thickness.

Pumpkin Seed-crusted Salmon

Adapted from The Gracious Pantry, this recipe blends together two unique and very distinct flavors, with the slightly nutty pumpkin seeds complementing the rich, buttery taste of wild-caught salmon. Aside from being delicious, this is also very easy to make, making it perfect for Sunday dinner.


  • 1/2 cup raw organic pumpkin seed, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon dried organic dill
  • 1 teaspoon Pink Himalayan salt
  • 1 teaspoon Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 organic lemon, sliced into medallions
  • 1 1/2 lb. wild-caught, organic salmon fillet


  1. In a food processor, grind up the pumpkin seeds along with the dill, black pepper, salt and garlic powder.
  2. Rinse the salmon fillet under cool, running water then pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. Once the fillet is dry to the touch, coat it with the ground pumpkin seed mix and wrap it in a parchment pouch with a lemon slice.
  4. Place the packet on a cookie sheet and bake inside an oven at 350 F. for approximately 20 minutes or until fully cooked.

Anxiety is a terrible burden to carry. It’s a good thing then that you can ease your symptoms simply by adding a couple of these tasty and healthy food items to his diet.

Sources: 1 2

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