Five foods that 'help ease anxiety symptoms' with mood boosting nutrients

A woman looks distressed as she sits outside and stares at a laptop. She rubs her neck. A cup a coffee sits beside her. The images displays a negative emotion.
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

When it comes to our mental health, there are certain foods that could help ease our anxiety, according to a health expert.

Many of us struggle with, or have experienced, anxiety with one in five people in the UK reporting that they feel anxious most of or all the time. With so many of us struggling, some will be looking for natural ways to alleviate symptoms through their diet.

According to Benenden Health, there has been a 75 percent rise in searches for 'natural ways to manage anxiety' in the past three months and a whopping 100 percent increase for 'foods that make anxiety worse' in the last year.

To show how nutrition can help calm us, Llinos Connolly at Benenden Health has shared which foods can worsen anxiety. She explains that the best way to reduce anxiety through your diet is by eating healthy, balanced meals.

She cautions: “When you are feeling anxious it's common to feel nauseous which can put you off eating altogether. However, not eating enough calories a day, can actually worsen your anxiety symptoms as it makes your blood sugar levels dip.

“Additionally, there’s increasing evidence that ultra-processed foods, like cereals, processed meats and crisps, may contribute to symptoms of anxiety. So, avoiding these foods during anxious times could be beneficial."

She recommends eating digestible foods and drinking lots of water as this can increase your mood-boosting serotonin levels, helping to relieve symptoms of anxiety.

But what food can you consume to help anxiety? The experts at Benenden Health have shared five foods to help below. Here is what you need to know and add to your next food shop.

What foods help ease anxiety symptoms?

1. Dark leafy greens

Fresh green organic kale leaves on blue background. Healthy food, diet and detox concept. Flat lay, top view
Dark leafy greens includes spinach, kale and pak choi -Credit:Getty

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Incorporating dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and pak choi into your meals can help manage anxiety. You can try mixing spinach into your favourite curry or tossing pak choi into your stir fry for a delicious, anxiety-easing meal.

They are loaded with brain-enhancing vitamins like magnesium, which regulates serotonin and supports improved sleep — often a challenge for those dealing with anxiety. As well as this, these leafy greens are abundant in vitamin B, which can aid in lowering stress levels.

2. Salmon

Salmon delicious and nutritious, but it's also a great brain-food. Alternatives such as sardines, mackerel, or herring are equally good due to their high content of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.

Research shows that insufficient vitamin D levels can exacerbate anxiety. Therefore having more vitamin D may contribute to alleviating anxiety symptoms.

Additionally, adding cod liver oil tablets to your daily regimen is an effective method to boost your omega-3 intake, which has been demonstrated to help in managing anxiety symptoms.

3. Yoghurt

Rich in probiotics that stimulate gut health, yoghurt is a great addition to your diet if you are struggling with anxiety. If you struggle with sleep, mood, or digestion during anxious periods, the probiotics in yoghurt can relieve these symptoms and increase the production of serotonin. Try opting for yoghurts with live cultures will maximise these benefits.

4. Green tea

Herbal tea, honey, lemon, mint
Not all tea is equal -Credit:Getty

A soothing cup of green tea is a great beverage option to lower the stress hormone, cortisol.

Green tea contains high levels of L-theanine, which is a chemical that supports cognitive functions, sleep, blood pressure, and relaxation, playing a key role in reducing anxiety.

It should be noted not all teas have a soothing effect, in fact, some may exacerbate symptoms. It's advisable to avoid beverages high in caffeine, which can stimulate the nervous system, like black tea and coffee.

5. Almonds

Close up of a girls hands eating nuts
Almonds are a great snack -Credit:Getty

A great on-the-go snack, almonds are a well-known food that helps anxiety due to the vitamins and healthy fats they contain.

Generally, foods that contain high levels of fat can worsen symptoms, however, the fats in almonds are actually beneficial. This superfood has a range of health benefits including weight regulation and protection from diabetes.

When it comes to managing anxiety symptoms, it’s the high vitamin E content that is particularly valuable for mood improvement. So, make sure to grab a bag of these tasty nuts in your next food shop for a range of health benefits!

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