Foods to Help Ease
Anxiety and Stress
One-third of adults in the United States experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Managing the disorder can oftentimes feel overwhelming and challenging, but eating a balanced diet full of nutrient-rich foods can help you manage those feelings and ease anxiety. While diet changes may not cure anxiety alone, well-balanced meals and drinking enough water can be a great place to start. From balancing hormones to fueling your body, here are some nutrient-rich foods that can help your body deal with stress and anxiety head-on.
Science has vindicated chocolate lovers everywhere. The connection between dark chocolate and anxiety is a result from studies suggesting that dark chocolate can reduce anxiety symptoms and improve mood. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants that may benefit brain function. They do this by improving blood flow to the brain and promoting its ability to adapt to stressful situations. However, dark chocolate is best consumed in moderation, as it is high in calories and easy to overeat.
Avocados are not only delicious mashed into guacamole or sliced and added to a salad — they also offer omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy essential acids are known to reduce stress and anxiety, boost concentration, and improve mood, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. This nutrient-packed fruit (yup, it’s a fruit!) is filled with vitamin B6 and magnesium, a combo that may help with serotonin production in your brain.
Okay, it’s not a food, but tea is still a powerful stress-reliever. Chamomile is an herb associated with several health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant and relaxing effects. According to a report from Harvard Medical School, chamomile tea has been shown to be an effective alternative treatment for anxiety. So cozy on up with a warm, soothing cup of tea before bed to calm your system and set yourself up for a better night’s sleep.
When it comes to dark leafy greens, you can choose from quite a few different options. Spinach or kale? Some studies suggest that spinach has both anti-anxiety and anti-depressive properties, while the antioxidants found in kale help keep anxiety at bay. Leafy greens also contain vitamin K and fiber, so you really can’t go wrong with these versatile foods. To incorporate more leafy greens into your diet, add them to salads, soups, and egg scrambles.
Almonds are rich in the mineral selenium, which has been linked to stress reduction. They are also packed with magnesium, which researchers have shown may be an effective treatment for anxiety-related symptoms, as inadequate magnesium reduces the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. One ounce of almonds has 80 mg, or about 20 percent of your recommended daily intake. Pack some almonds for when those after-lunch, but-not-quite-dinner, snackies hit, spread almond butter on toast or add chopped almonds to a salad.
Science has found a connection between this yellow spice and the prevention of anxiety disorders as a result of the active ingredient, curcumin. Curcumin boosts a specific acid in the brain that’s connected to reducing anxiety and strengthening the brain. It’s common in many Indian cuisines, but you can add it to your smoothie, roasted vegetables, stir fry, rice, or even tea.
This green veggie is high in the B-complex vitamin folate. Folate has been proven to produce dopamine in the brain, which not only makes one feel happier, but also reduces feelings of stress and anxiety. Asparagus is one vegetable that contains a valuable amount of this mood-boosting nutrient. One cup alone provides two-thirds of your daily recommended folate value.
When we’re anxious and stressed, our bodies crave vitamin C to help repair and protect our cells, and blueberries are packed full of it. Small but mighty, blueberries are bursting with antioxidants and vitamin C which have been shown to provide anxiety relief. A one-cup serving contains 24 percent of the daily recommended vitamin C intake. Add them to your morning oats or cereal, or just snack on them any time of day.
Article by Megan Reid
Community Manager at LesserEvil Snacks