EPA and DHA may help regulate the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which can have calming and relaxing properties.
Additionally, studies show these fatty acids can reduce inflammation and prevent brain cell dysfunction that leads to the development of mental disorders like anxiety.
Consuming adequate amounts of EPA and DHA may also promote your brain’s ability to adapt to changes, allowing you to better handle stressors that trigger anxiety symptoms (source 5).
Vitamin D has also been studied for the positive effects it may have on improving levels of calming neurotransmitters (source 6, source 7).
Even a few servings of salmon a week may be enough to promote anxiety relief.
In one study, men who ate Atlantic salmon three times per week for five months reported less anxiety than those who ate chicken, pork or beef. Moreover, they had improved anxiety-related symptoms, such as heart rate and heart rate variability (source 8).
Try these two Balanced Foods meals featuring Salmon:
These effects may be due to L-theanine’s potential to prevent nerves from becoming overexcited. Additionally, L-theanine may increase GABA, dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters that have been shown to have anti-anxiety effects (source 12).
Moreover, green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant suggested to promote brain health. It may play a role in reducing certain symptoms by also increasing GABA in the brain (source 13).
One mouse study found that EGCG produced anti-anxiety effects similar to those of common anxiety medications (source 14).
The beneficial properties of L-theanine and EGCG may be a major reason why drinking several cups of green tea daily is associated with less psychological distress (source 15).
While all of these findings are promising, it is worth mentioning that most of the research on green tea and anxiety has been conducted in animals and test tubes. More human research is needed to confirm its anti-anxiety effects.
OTHER FOODS THAT MAY FIGHT ANXIETY
While some of the foods listed below have not been studied specifically for their anti-anxiety effects, they are rich in nutrients thought to improve related symptoms.
Turkey & Oats:These are good sources of the amino acid tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin in the body and may promote relaxation and anxiety relief (source 16, source 17, source 18).
Try these Balanced Foods meals featuring Turkey and Oats
Eggs:All provide high-quality protein including essential amino acids that produce the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which have the potential to improve mental health (source 19, source 20).
Citrus Fruits and Bell Peppers:These fruits are rich in vitamin C, which has antioxidant properties that may help reduce inflammation and prevent damage to cells that may promote anxiety (source 21, source 22).
Try these Balanced Foods meals featuring Citrus Fruits & Bell Peppers