6 Foods That Help Reduce Anxiety (photos)

Salmon and Vegetables on a Rustic Chopping Board

Anxiety is a common problem for many people. It’s a disorder characterized by constant worry and nervousness, and is sometimes related to poor brain health. Medication is often required as treatment.

Aside from medication, there are several strategies you can use to help reduce anxious symptoms, from exercising to deep breathing.
Additionally, there are some foods you can eat that may help lower the severity of your symptoms, mostly due to their brain-boosting properties.
Here are 6 science-backed foods and beverages that may provide anxiety relief.
1) Salmon:

Salmon and Vegetables on a Rustic Chopping Board

Salmon may be beneficial for reducing anxiety.
It contains nutrients that promote brain health, including vitamin D and the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (1, 2, 3, 4).
EPA and DHA may help regulate the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which can have calming and relaxing properties.
Additionally, studies show these fatty acids can reduce inflammation and prevent brain cell damage that leads to the development of mental disorders like anxiety.
Consuming adequate amounts of EPA and DHA may also promote your brain’s ability to adapt to changes, allowing you to better handle stressors that trigger anxiety symptoms (5).
Vitamin D has also been studied for the positive effects it may have on improving levels of calming neurotransmitters (6, 7).
Even a few servings of salmon a week may be enough to promote anxiety relief.
In one study, men who ate Atlantic salmon three times per week for five months reported less anxiety than those who ate chicken, pork or beef. Moreover, they had improved anxiety-related symptoms, such as heart rate and heart rate variability (8).

2) Dark Chocolate:

Four Pieces of Dark Chocolate

Incorporating some dark chocolate into your diet may also be helpful for easing anxiety.
Dark chocolate contains flavonols, 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 environmental changes (25, 26).
These effects may allow you to adjust better to stressful situations that can lead to anxiety and other mood disorders.
Some researchers also suggest that dark chocolate’s role in brain health may simply be due to its taste, which can be comforting for those with mood disorders (26).
In one study, individuals who consumed 74% dark chocolate twice daily for two weeks had improved levels of stress hormones commonly associated with anxiety, such as catecholamines and cortisol (27).
Eating dark chocolate has also been shown to increase levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which may help reduce the stress that leads to anxiety (25, 28, 29, 30).
For example, in a study of highly stressed individuals, participants reported significantly lower levels of stress after consuming 40 grams of dark chocolate every day over a two-week period (28).
However, dark chocolate is best consumed in moderation, as it is high in calories and sugar and easy to overeat. 1–1.5 ounces is a reasonable serving size.
Summary: Dark chocolate may be helpful for improving anxiety due to its stress-reducing antioxidants and ability to increase serotonin levels.

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