To combat anxiety there are numerous strategies: from the regular practice of physical exercise to the adoption of healthy rest habits, the recurrent use of meditation techniques or other relaxation methods such as sauna, forest baths imported from Japan or the ASMR, as well as contact with nature, creative activities and, of course, psychological therapy or the use of drugs indicated by prescription.
However, in the equation to feel better and reduce levels of anxiety do not forget the best of the allies: a good, careful and complete diet, rich in vitamins and minerals essential to combat the problem of anxiety and others like Stress or depression Next, we review what the seven best foods to reduce anxiety are according to science.
Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and herring, are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, related to cognitive function and mental health. Foods rich in Omega-3 containing alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) provide two essential fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), responsible for regulating neurotransmitters, reducing inflammation and promoting healthy brain function.
Current recommendations suggest eating at least two servings of fatty fish a week. A study in men found that eating salmon three times a week reduced self-reported anxiety. Salmon and sardines are also among the few foods that contain vitamin D, whose deficiency is linked to various mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. A report in the Journal of Affective Disorders believes there is enough evidence to prove that vitamin D helps depression positively, while it can also help improve seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during the winter.
Egg yolks are another great source of vitamin D and complete proteins, which contain all the essential amino acids that the body needs for growth and development. With respect to anxiety, eggs are known to contain tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps create serotonin, the chemical neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, sleep, memory and behavior. It is also believed that serotonin improves brain function and relieves anxiety.
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of potassium, which helps regulate electrolyte balance and control blood pressure. All foods rich in this mineral, such as bananas, potatoes, mushrooms or lentils can help reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Pumpkin seeds also provide high doses of zinc, an essential mineral for the development of the brain and nerves. In fact, it is fundamental for the balance of brain regions involved with emotions. A study conducted on 100 high school students determined that zinc deficiency can negatively affect mood.
Dark chocolate can help reduce stress and anxiety, something that was shown in research as the following carried out in 2014. Although it is still unclear how dark chocolate reduces stress, it is known to be a source rich in polyphenols, especially flavonoids. One study suggested that flavonoids could reduce neuroinflammation and cell death in the brain, as well as improve blood flow.
Chocolate also stands out for its high content of tryptophan, ideal to stimulate the production of neurotransmitters that improve mood, such as serotonin in the brain. On the other hand, it is a good source of magnesium, ideal to fight the evils of depression and anxiety. Of course, it is important that the chocolate has a purity of cocoa of 70% or higher.
Turmeric is one of the most famous spices of Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine, whose benefits we have analyzed in depth in this article. Science has stressed that incorporating it into the diet is essential to reduce anxiety by reducing the inflammation and oxidative stress that often increase in people who experience mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. A 2015 study found that curcumin present in turmeric reduces anxiety in obese adults.
Turmeric not only improves mood, but also memory.
Yogurt contains healthy bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, on which there is increasing scientific evidence of its positive effects on brain health. According to a recent clinical review, yogurt and other dairy products can also produce an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. Some research suggests that chronic inflammation may be partly responsible for anxiety, stress and depression.
Other research carried out in 2015 determined that fermented foods reduced social anxiety in some young people, while several studies found that the consumption of healthy bacteria increases happiness in some people.
Green tea contains an amino acid called theanine, which has the ability to exert a positive influence on mood disorders and can increase the production of serotonin and dopamine.
A clinical review of 2017 found that 200 mg of theanine improved self-reported relaxation and calmness while reducing stress in human trials. You can try to incorporate this type of infusion into your diet by replacing soft drinks, coffee and alcoholic beverages.