Omega-3 is a fatty acid that has a strong relationship with cognitive function as well as mental health. Picture: Pexels / Valeria Boltneva
Omega-3 is a fatty acid that has a strong relationship with cognitive function as well as mental health. Picture: Pexels / Valeria Boltneva

5 foods that can help alleviate anxiety

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Mar 3, 2021

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Anxiety is a common problem for many people.

It’s a disorder characterized by constant worry and nervousness, and is sometimes related to poor brain health. Medication is often required as treatment.

However, alternatively, there are some foods you can eat that may help lower the severity of your symptoms, mostly due to their brain-boosting properties.

Here are some foods that may provide anxiety relief:

Foods rich in tryptophan

Some researchers believe that tryptophan may have a positive effect on stress because this amino acid helps your brain produce chemicals that contribute to a feeling of well-being.

"Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, and serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter, helps you feel calm," said Manuel Villacorta, nutritionist in San Francisco and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Tryptophan is found in a variety of foods: turkey, chicken, bananas, milk, oats, cheese, soybeans, tree nuts, peanut butter, and sesame seeds.

Fatty fish

Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, and herring, are high in omega-3. Omega-3 is a fatty acid that has a strong relationship with cognitive function as well as mental health.

However, 2017 research on The Relationship between Fatty Acids and Different Depression-Related Brain Regions, and Their Potential Role as Biomarkers of Response to Antidepressants, has shown that if a person eats too much of another fatty acid, called omega-6, and not enough omega-3, they may increase their risk of developing mood disorders, such as anxiety.

Wholemeal bread

Carbohydrates also increase the production of serotonin in the brain. When choosing carbs, go for whole grains, like bread made with whole wheat flour or brown rice, rather than processed carbs, like sugar, candy, or even white bread and white rice.

Whole grains take longer to be broken down by the body and slowly release sugar into the blood stream. Processed carbohydrates can give you a first burst of energy, but this can be followed by an insulin problem which will quickly lower blood sugar levels, leaving you feeling lethargic.

Dark chocolate

Incorporating some dark chocolate into your diet may also be helpful for easing anxiety.

Dark chocolate contains flavonols, which are antioxidants that may benefit brain function.

They do this by improving blood flow to the brain and promoting its ability to adapt to stressful situations.

These effects may allow you to adjust better to the stressful situations that can lead to anxiety and other mood disorders.

Asparagus

Many studies going back to the 1960s indicate that many people who suffer from anxiety and depression have an elevated incident of folate deficiency.

Asparagus is one vegetable that contains a valuable amount of this mood-boosting nutrient. One cup alone provides two-thirds of your daily recommended folate value.

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