Anxiety can make you feel nervous, panicky, or self-conscious, and it can strike when you least expect it. It is like an uninvited houseguest who drops in and stays for a brief visit or settles in for the long haul and becomes a constant unwanted companion. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in America, and anyone suffers from it wants it to stop. Just ask any of the 40 million Americans currently coping with some form of anxiety.

Anti-anxiety pills are often the first line of defense, but they aren’t necessarily the best treatment option. Many people with this condition are looking for alternative ways to manage the problem, and with good reason.  Studies show that some anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, aren’t good for brain health.    They offer a short-term solution that can create other long-term problems.

   To calm your nerves, try these 8 research-backed, anxiety-fighting foods.

1. FATTY FISH

Salmon, tuna, herring, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to calm anxiety. A 2014 study found that men who ate Atlantic salmon three times a week showed a reduction in self-reported anxiety. In a study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, medical students who supplemented their diet with omega-3 experienced a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms. Eat fatty fish at least twice a week for optimal brain benefits.

2. ASPARAGUS

High in potassium, fiber, the trace element chromium, and vitamins (A, C, E, and K), asparagus has strong anti-anxiety properties. In China, an asparagus extract has been government-approved as a functional food for its anxiety-reducing effects. A 2013 study suggested that asparagus extract could be considered an alternative approach for the management of anxiety disorders.

3. AVOCADOS

Rich, buttery avocados are high in B vitamins, which are involved in the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which influence mood. In some people, B vitamin deficiencies have been associated with an uptick in anxiety. Avocados are also rich in brain healthy fats that may also protect against anxiety.

4. FERMENTED FOODS

If you suffer from social anxiety, which is a form of the condition that makes people experience extreme fear and discomfort in social settings, think about increasing your intake of fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kefir, which are considered probiotic foodsA 2019 review of 34 controlled clinical trials in Psychiatry Research found that probiotic foods had a significant anxiolytic effect on anxiety. Earlier research has found that probiotics are particularly helpful for social anxiety.

5. EGGS

Eggs have been enjoying a culinary renaissance in recent years, and this is a good thing for people who suffer from nervousness. Eggs contain an amino acid called tryptophan that is involved in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays a role in the regulation of anxiety and mood.

6. PUMPKIN SEEDS

You don’t have to wait until Halloween to munch on pumpkin seeds, which are packed with anti-anxiety nutrients, including magnesium, B vitamins, and zinc. A 2017 review shows that magnesium helps reduce anxiety, and B vitamins help lower mental stress. Zinc also plays a role in managing stress. Be sure to opt for raw and unsalted pumpkin seeds for a healthy snack.

7. DARK CHOCOLATE

As if you needed another reason to indulge in your love of chocolate, a 2014 study found that it decreases perceived stress. Dark chocolate is also a good source of magnesium and it contains the neurotransmitter phenylethylamine, which is involved in regulating moods and releasing feel-good endorphins in the brain. For the full health effect, stick to chocolates that are at least 70% cacao.

8. CHAMOMILE

Chamomile tea has been hailed for centuries for its relaxation properties. This herbal tea helps promote sleep, and in a 2016 study in Phytomedicine, chamomile significantly reduced moderate to severe symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.


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