There are several options for foods that decrease anxiety. Anxiety disorders usually require psychotherapy or counselling, or prescription medication for cases that do not respond to psychotherapy or for cases that are severe. For those who are not able to access a counsellor or refuse to see one, then you can look into self-help interventions and alternative treatments. No matter what primary treatment you choose, you should also consider lifestyle changes to help augment treatment, like dietary changes. In this article, we will discuss several foods that are associated with calming effects and decreased anxiety.
Fruits like cantaloupe and oranges are rich in inositol (Clements and Darnell, 1980). Inositol is a carbohydrate that is found in fruits, and is sweet in taste. Inositol is associated with decreased anxiety symptoms (Palatnik et al., 2001). A natural compound, inositol is associated with few side effects.
Bananas and avocado are rich in magnesium, an alkaline earth metal. Magnesium is associated with reduced anxiety (Hanus et al., 2004; De Souza et al., 2000). Make sure to include fruits such as cantaloupe, oranges, bananas, and avocado in your diet to combat anxiety.
Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and anchovies are full of omega 3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are important for normal metabolism, and associated with decreased anxiety and decreased depression. With regards to anxiety, studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids are effective for decreasing anxiety (Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2011; Buydens-Branchey et al., 2006). Fish also contains magnesium, which is associated with reduced anxiety, as previously mentioned. Eat more fish to reduce your anxiety symptoms.
Fermented foods include fermented cabbage (kimchi), fermented juice, and fermented milk, which contain naturally occuring GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) (Cho et al., 2007; Inoue et al., 2003; Kim et al., 2009). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter found in the central nervous system, and associated with decreased anxiety. A study has shown GABA to be associated with reduced anxiety (Abdou et al., 2006).
Sunflower seeds contain many naturally occurring substances that help to calm anxiety. Sunflower seeds contain inositol, a carbohydrate that was previously described to decreased anxiety. Sunflower seeds also contain naturally occurring GABA (Kathiresan et al., 1997), which was also previously mentioned to be associated with reduced anxiety. Finally, edible nuts and seeds in general have magnesium and omega 3 fatty acids, which were previously discussed to be associated with reduced anxiety levels.
Soybeans are high in magnesium (Hanai and Esashi, 1998) and inositol (Hegeman et al., 2001), which were previously described to be associated with reduced anxiety.
Tomatoes are rich in naturally occurring GABA (Akihiro 2008), which reduces anxiety, as previously described.
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are high in magnesium (Swartz et al., 1984), previously described to reduce anxiety.
Chocolate is rich in magnesium (Bruinsma and Taren, 1999), especially dark chocolate. Magnesium was previously described to decrease anxiety.
Eggs and milk contain inositol (Ogasa et al., 1975), previously described to be associated with reduced anxiety. Yogurt is high in magnesium (Wang et al., 2013), previously mentioned to decrease anxiety.
Fava beans are rich in GABA (Li et al., 2010), previously mentioned to decrease anxiety.
Herbal teas can help to calm you, reduce your anxiety, and help to improve sleep. Herbal teas for anxiety are discussed further here.
This article details foods that are rich in naturally occurring substances that reduce anxiety. This list of foods that help with anxiety can also accommodate a vegetarian diet. Eating foods that reduce anxiety can help augment your primary treatment of anxiety, such as psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, or self-help. For more information on anxiety and naturally occurring substances for anxiety, read my book on anxiety, Anxiety Protocol. Anxiety Protocol can help to eradicate anxiety from your life.