What to eat when you are anxious

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods like miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, and kimchi contain probiotics, the friendly bacteria that live in your GI tract, and help defend against harmful pathogens and microbes. Eating more probiotics can help take care of your gut microbiome, potentially benefiting that gut-brain connection.


Cherries contain antioxidants like quercetin, which can help promote feelings of calmness. Eating more fruits and veggies, in general, has also been linked to decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression and increased happiness levels. Some studies have shown that eating five or more servings per day helps boost your mood, yet according to the Centers for Disease Control, only 10% of Americans hit that recommendation.

Dark Chocolate

Its bitter flavor profile is polarizing for some, but promising research could tip the scales in favor of a frequent treat. A 2019 survey-based study published in the journal Depression & Anxiety suggests that people who eat dark chocolate regularly are less likely to report depressive symptoms. While more research is needed to confirm any causation due to the study's limited size, adding a small amount in your routine certainly can't hurt.

Chamomile Tea
Who doesn't love a cup of a warm, soothing cup of tea after a long day? If you can, spring for chamomile: A 2016 clinical trial, with results published in the journal Phytomedicine, suggests that those who drank this tea over a long-term period "significantly" reduced severe generalized anxiety disorder symptoms. Chamomile's role in anxiety reduction may have something to do with its ability to enhance your efforts to get to sleep on time.


Some initial studies also indicate that the combo of vitamins C and E plus folate may help to reduce oxidative stress, which can lead to chronic inflammation. Plus, they may help to promote serotonin production, the neurotransmitter associated with well-being and happiness.

Seafood is another under-consumed food in the U.S. and there’s early evidence to support adequate intake (8-12 ounces per week) with a cognitive boost and mood enhancement due to the essential omega-3 fatty acids. Try adding more salmon, mackerel, sardines, and shellfish to your plate, or algal oil if you're vegan or vegetarian.

This nutrient-packed fruit is filled with vitamin B6 and magnesium, a combo that may help with serotonin production in your brain. Adding avocado slices to omelets, salads, and even smoothies will also help you get more fiber and healthy fats in your diet.

Beans and Legumes
Chickpeas, lentils, beans, and legumes also provide antioxidants, vitamin B6, and magnesium. They're protein-rich powerhouses, so try them as a swap for red meat in sautés and in stir-fry dishes

Plain Greek Yogurt
Yogurt provides key minerals that may help with symptoms of stress and stabilize mood, but it also provides probiotics. Look for plain, unsweetened versions with at least five strains of live and active cultures on the ingredients' list to use in breakfasts, snacks, and dips.

Whole Grains
Prebiotics, meanwhile, fuel your body’s probiotics so they can survive and thrive. Find them in 100% whole grains like oats, barley, and bran, as well as various fruits, vegetables, and beans. Eating more of these foods helps serotonin receptors in your GI tract function properly and they've been linked to reducing the risk of chronic disease.

It may sound like an old wives' tale, but there’s some science behind the time-honored glass of milk before bed. A cup of milk provides minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Magnesium, in particular, has been studied for its role in anxiety — yet 68% of Americans aren't getting enough of this mineral.

Pumpkin Seeds
An ounce of pumpkin seeds provides nearly 20% of your daily value of magnesium, plus potassium. Sprinkle these seeds (and nuts, like walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, and cashews) on your meals or snack on 'em plain for a nutrient boost.

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