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5 Foods that Help Fight Stress and Anxiety

Sometimes, everyday worries just get to you. You worry about your work, your finances, your family — the list can go on and on. As a result, you feel stressed, wired, and tired all at the same time. 

You are not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 40 million adults are affected by anxiety or anxiety-related disorders. That’s 18% of the population! 

Specific therapies and medications can help relieve the burden of anxiety and stress but, truth be told, treatment shouldn’t have to stop once you leave your therapists’ office or when you finish taking your pills. 

Effective anxiety management means taking the extra step to help yourself by changing your lifestyle for the better. And what better way to start this lifestyle change than through your diet? 

Diet plays an important role in helping to manage anxiety. Proper nourishment can naturally calm you down. And as holistic beings, our mental and physical health are inseparable. How we nourish our bodies determines how well we achieve a calmer state of mind. 

Adjusting your diet to ease your anxiety doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, you might even enjoy it! Here are 5 foods you should start eating to keep anxiety and stress at bay:

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Salmon

Salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids that play an important role in the brain’s physical development and our emotional functionality. Just like zinc, omega-3s are highly concentrated in the brain. 

Getting plenty of these healthy fats not only helps in brain health, but it also helps reduce anxiety. Aside from omega-3, salmon also contains vitamin D that helps improve your mood. 

So instead of eating red meat, start switching to a healthier option like salmon. You can experiment by trying out different spices and flavor combinations when cooking. You’ll find that it can be as delicious and filling as steak! 

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Yogurt

Yogurt contains Lactobaccilus and Bifidobacteria — probiotics that have positive effects on both your gut and brain health. Good bacteria actually help in producing serotonin, dopamine, and GABA [gamma-aminobutyric acid], which all play a huge role in one’s moods. 

Incorporating yogurt and other probiotic-rich food like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha in your diet is exciting and can even help reduce your anxiety and stress. 

Make your breakfast more fun by switching up milk for yogurt. You can also mix in some berries to make it even yummier! Plus, berries are bursting with vitamin C and antioxidants that also provide anxiety relief! 

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Avocado

Avocado is a nutrient-packed fruit filled with magnesium and vitamin B6. You may call magnesium the ultimate chill pill — it literally blocks the entrance of stress hormones into the brain! 

Vitamin B6, on the other hand, relieves stress and is good for the heart. The powerful combination of these two helps the body produce serotonin, a brain chemical that contributes to well-being and happiness. Talk about a real good mood booster!

The awesome thing about avocado is that you can add it to a lot of things — salads, omelets, sandwiches, smoothies, and even dessert! Always craving something sweet? Try making an avocado ice cream. Trust me, it’s easy! Just blend avocado with a ripe banana, vanilla extract, almond milk, and sweetener. Freeze for a few hours and indulge yourself in a sweet treat that’s oh-so-healthy for both the brain and the body!

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Turkey

Turkey is rich in tryptophan, a nutrient that helps the body produce serotonin. Serotonin helps regulate mood and reduce anxious feelings. Tryptophan also helps produce melatonin, a brain chemical that puts you into a state of calm that helps promote sleep. And we all know that better sleep also equates to a better mood! 

Fried chicken sounds delicious for a meal, but what if you opt for turkey instead? Turkey might be a bit of a task to cook, but the benefits of the tryptophan is worth it. You can prepare your meals in advance to avoid the hassle! 

Aside from the classic roast, you can also try making turkey burgers, turkey chili, and even turkey meatloaf! Don’t be afraid to get creative!

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Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate is packed with fiber and antioxidants that help prevent cell damage from free radicals, while also improving heart health and blood flow. 

It also has a high tryptophan content and is a good source of magnesium. Who knew that this sweet treat can be such a healthy choice? Those cravings are justified after all! 

Be careful with your dark chocolate consumption though, as it still contains added sugars and fats. When choosing dark chocolate, aim for 70% or more. A small serving of 1 to 3 grams a day is just enough. 

Instead of just eating it as it is, you can try incorporating small amounts of dark chocolate into meals and snacks. You can blend it into a smoothie, add it to your trail mix, grate it over your morning oatmeal, or even incorporate it into savory dishes! Be adventurous and experiment on different recipes!

Do you know other healthy foods that help reduce anxiety and stress? Let us know in the comments!

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