Here are the Foods that Help (and Hurt) Anxiety

Around 18 percent of Americans deal with some form of anxiety disorder. That number is incredibly high. And unfortunately, drugs don’t always provide relief—in part because the side effects can be pretty unpleasant.

Because of the mind-gut connection, the foods we consume can actually affect our mental wellness on a very basic level. That means you can improve your anxiety by simply changing the way you eat!

First things first: always consult a doctor if you think you have anxiety or are considering getting off your medication. Got it?

Anxiety: Foods to Avoid

Let’s discuss what you should not eat if you’re prone to anxiety. Hint, it’s the usual suspects—processed foods, refined sugar, white carbs, alcohol, and especially stimulants, like caffeine.

Also be sure to avoid any food you are sensitive to, like gluten or dairy. You don’t want to consume anything that will increase stress hormones, inflammation or blood sugar.

Did you know that low blood sugar actually has a very similar effect on your brain as anxiety?! Don’t set yourself up for a double whammy.

The way you eat matters, too. Don’t skip meals, as that can just further stress out your body.

What you should do is try to be gentle to your body and give it only what will nourish it—it doesn’t need anything extra to deal with. Get plenty of sleep and take a bioavailable multivitamin to give your body all the tools it needs to recenter. Be extra nice to yourself.

Foods that Help Anxiety

If you’re looking for a few extra powerful, science-backed foods to add into your diet, try these natural anxiety-fighters.

Opened ripe cocoa pod on drying raw beans background

Raw Cacao

Sure, a square of chocolate does wonders when recovering from dementor attacks, but are you scratching your head wondering how it could actually help with anxiety? You can thank magnesium, which raw cacao is loaded with.

Magnesium is a crucial mineral for relaxation, but stress depletes the body’s stores rather quickly. Two tablespoons of raw cacao powder is packed with around 25 percent of your recommended daily allowance. Add this into your smoothies for a delicious and superfood treat!

Other magnesium-rich foods include legumes, nuts, and seeds.


Bring on the curry! Turmeric has been shown in numerous studies to soothe both depression and anxiety.

Not only do turmeric’s powerful phytochemicals do a stellar job of counteracting inflammation, but turmeric can help balance the chronically activated stress response that is associated with anxiety.

Supplements of curcumin extract will be the most therapeutic source, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to enjoy a golden latte once in a while, either.

turmeric powder and roots


Adaptogens are seriously powerful. Research has shown that taking ashwagandha regularly can reduce anxiety by a whopping 44 percent! Ashwagandha regulates cortisol production over time, which makes you less prone to overwhelming stress and anxiety in the future.

Enjoy this powdered root in smoothies, tonics, or superfood coffees/hot chocolates.

Reishi Mushroom

This is the most calming and restorative of the adaptogenic mushrooms. Reishi acts as a rejuvenating tonic for the adrenals. Healthy, unstressed adrenals are crucial, as they play a major role in the development of anxiety.

Reishi also supports healthy blood sugar by regulating the enzyme responsible for breaking starches down into sugars, which further de-stresses the body.

Four Sigmatic makes some great mushroom coffees and elixirs that you can add to your daily relaxation ritual.

Cup of reishi tea and fresh Lingzhi mushroom on dark wooden floor.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Your brain needs fat to function, especially omega-3s. There’s no argument about that. And since anxiety is related to the brain, it’s probably a good time to start prioritizing those brain-fueling fats.

That means enjoying foods like spinach, walnuts and flax oil or taking a quality omega-3 supplement. These foods go a long way towards promoting a balanced noggin.

Anxiety is also correlated with low antioxidant levels, so also be sure to load up on as many antioxidant-rich plants as you can—berries, greens, all of it! And remember: don’t discount the power of your diet to influence your mental health.

Related on Care2:


Olivia H
Olivia H6 days ago

thanks very much

Richard B
Richard B10 days ago


Beth L
Alice L13 days ago


Paulo Reeson
Paulo Reeson13 days ago


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R14 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R14 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

Bill E
Bill Eagle15 days ago

Interesting. Most of those food aren't all that available in our small community. COSTCO does sell Tumeric food additives... I do wonder what research backs up some of the claims shown in this article?

Alina K
Alina Kanaski15 days ago

Thanks for sharing!

Edgar Z
Edgar Zuim15 days ago


Leopold M
Leopold Marek15 days ago