Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population). Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment. Depression and anxiety disorders are different, but people with depression often experience symptoms similar to those of an anxiety disorder, such as nervousness, irritability, and problems sleeping and concentrating. One of the best methods for controlling stress and anxiety is with healthy eating. Drinking more water is also recommended because sometimes anxiety may be caused by dehydration. Read on for more about the best foods to help you break free of the anxious cycle.
1. Seaweed. Seaweed is one of the world’s most nutrient dense foods. Rich in minerals, seaweed contains two nutrients that are key to supporting anxiety, magnesium and tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that the body converts to serotonin. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter the body uses to elevate moods, calm the mind, and promote a healthy sleep cycle. Other foods rich in tryptophan are: chicken, turkey, fish, yogurt, cashews, almonds walnuts, sunflower seeds, black beans and peanuts.
Research studies have suggested that one of the many benefits of magnesium is lowering high blood pressure. People who struggle with persistent anxiety experience chronic stress about their anxiety and some research has shown that this chronic stress is related to high blood pressure and heart disease. Fish, cashews, potatoes, bananas, beans and almonds are some other examples of foods rich in magnesium.
Seaweed is also an excellent rare food source of iodine. Some researchers believe that depression may be linked to an iodine deficiency since iodized salt has been replaced by sea salt in many kitchens across the country.
2. Salmon. Salmon and other oily fish are excellent sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Omega-3 essential fatty acids produce the hormones and chemicals that keep you feeling happy and healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids appear to inhibit the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Fish is also a good source of the mineral magnesium. Magnesium may be beneficial during anxiety and panic because it helps muscles to relax. Flax seeds and walnuts are vegetarian alternatives to fish that also contain omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium.
3. Avocado. Avocados are a nutrient-rich food that provides your body with potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Avocado is also one of the best sources of folate- 1 avocado provides 41% of your folic acid Daily Value requirement! Folic acid is a B vitamin that is required when the body is dealing with anxiety, panic, and depression. Avocados are also a good source of pantothenic acid, another B vitamin needed for responding to anxiety and panic. Pantothenic acid helps produce stress hormones during times of psychological difficulty (emotional upset, depression, anxiety), as well as during other types of strain, such as chronic fatigue and quitting smoking.
4. Blueberries. Blueberries are rich in vitamins and phytonutrients (plant nutrients), with a variety of antioxidants that are considered extremely beneficial for relieving stress. Blueberries are a rich source of vitamin C which is known to be effective in reducing stress levels. Blueberries also contain a high amount of fiber which helps regulate blood sugar levels. Research has shown that blood sugar fluctuations are a major contributor to stress.
5. Almonds. Almonds contain a full range of anxiety busting micronutrients, including calcium, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins and even tryptophan. The zinc in almonds is a key nutrient for maintaining a balanced mood. Almonds also contain healthy fats and iron- common deficiencies in both nutrients can contribute to anxiety and a lack of energy.
6. Chocolate. There is a good reason we crave chocolate when we’re feeling anxious or a little blue! The chemical compounds and magnesium in dark chocolate can improve mood. Chocolate, especially pure dark chocolate without added sugar or milk, is another great food for those living with anxiety and stress. Chocolate reduces cortisol, the stress hormone that causes anxiety symptoms. Dark chocolate is also high in zinc, which is needed for the synthesis of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to well-being and happiness.
Anxiety is a serious issue and this article obviously does not contain exhaustive information for treating it, however it does help lay some ground work for you to follow up with a therapist and a nutritionist to begin to heal yourself.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America. http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics