Science Agrees: These 3 Foods Are Like Nature's Xanax

Updated 06/06/17
Half Baked Harvest

We're all aware that certain foods have the power to make anxiety worse. Refined carbohydrates like white pasta, processed meats like beef jerky, and—of course—coffee are usual suspects of the anxiety-inducing set. But just as certain foods are worth avoiding if you're anxiety-prone, there are other foods that can reduce your anxiety. Kim Suddeath, a registered dietitian and holistic wellness expert, recently listed some of her favorite foods "to help you keep calm and carry on" on Mindbodygreen.

Add the below ingredients into your diet to balance your mood (and enjoy a healthy snack).

Cashews: This nut is an excellent source of zinc, which Suddeath describes as "a trace mineral essential for brain function" and "like a behind-the-scenes agent when it comes to anxiety." Zinc converts vitamin B-6 to its active form, which helps synthesize serotonin, the neurotransmitter involved in maintaining mood balance.

Oats: This breakfast staple is packed with vitamins and minerals—such as B-vitamins, magnesium, and fiber—that help to control stress and reduce anxiety. "Because oats are whole grains containing complex carbohydrates, eating them is a great way to increase serotonin production," says Suddeath. Kick-start your day with a filling bowl of stress-reducing goodness.

Dark chocolate: It's probably not a surprise that dark chocolate can provide an instant mood boost, but you may not have considered the science behind it to actually relieve stress. "Not only does dark chocolate contain antioxidants and magnesium, but it also contains an interesting fatty-acid neurotransmitter called anandamide," explains Suddeath. "Anandamide has mood-lifting effects in the body and has recently been found to reverse stress-induced anxiety in mice."

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