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Nutritional Strategies for Improving Anxiety & Mood

With everything going on in the world, it comes as no surprise that globally we are seeing an alarming rise in substance abuse, suicide, eating disorders, and other mental health issues.

While nutritional therapy is no substitute for professional help managing mental health disorders and behavioral health conditions, there are some nutrition strategies you can implement that may help to alleviate anxiety and improve mood.

Consuming more foods that are rich in nutrients, less foods that offer little to no nutritional value, drinking adequate water, and not skipping meals helps to stabilize blood sugar - an important factor in reducing anxiety.

The following nutrients and foods are linked to reduced levels of anxiety and improved overall mood.



Foods rich in magnesium may help a person feel calmer and reduce anxiety.

  • Leafy greens: kale, spinach, collards, swiss chard

  • Legumes: black beans, edamame, kidney beans

  • Nuts: almonds, cashews, peanut butter

  • Seeds: pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds

  • Whole grains: whole wheat bread, oatmeal, fortified breakfast cereals, brown rice



Zinc-rich foods have been linked to reduced levels of anxiety.

  • Meat: beef, pork, chicken

  • Shellfish: oyster, crab, lobster

  • Legumes: baked beans, chickpeas, kidney beans

  • Nuts & Seeds: pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds

  • Low-Fat Dairy: yogurt, cheese, milk



Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce anxiety and improve depression.

  • Fatty fish: salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, tuna

  • Shellfish: oysters

  • Seeds: flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds

  • Nuts: walnuts

  • Other foods: tofu, navy beans, brussels sprouts, canola oil, olive oil



Foods rich in B-vitamins may help the release of serotonin & dopamine - "feel good" hormones that play a role in happiness and emotional well-being.

  • Whole grains: brown rice, barley

  • Vegetables: darky leafy greens, carrots

  • Animal foods: salmon, beef, eggs, low-fat dairy

  • Fruit: oranges, bananas, avocado

  • Other foods: sweet potatoes, nutritional yeast, enriched cereals, almonds


In addition to incorporating these foods into your daily diet, work on reducing foods that may worsen anxiety:

  • Highly processed foods high in added sugars

  • Fried foods

  • Alcohol

  • Excessive caffeine (energy drinks!)

Other ways to reduce stress and improve anxiety:

  • Increase physical activity

  • Get adequate, quality sleep (7+ hours)

  • Practice self-care (meditation, journaling)


It's OKAY to not be okay. You are not alone. Support is always available.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

1-800-273-Talk (8255)

The Trevor Project (LGBTQ):


Text TREVOR to 1-202-304-1200

Crisis Text Line:

Text TALK to 741741

National Eating Disorders Association:



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