Let Food Be Thy Medicine: 8 Best Foods to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Find out the 8 healthy foods to help reduce anxiety.

Stress and anxiety affect every one of us. According to a new global study by Gallup, one in three people in the world is becoming more anxious and stressed out. Furthermore, the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic has worsened mental health issues.

While a little stress can motivate you to complete your work more effectively, excessive stress and long-term repetition can lead to unhealthy habits affecting your overall health, such as weakened immune system, increased risk of heart disease, persistent muscle pains in certain areas such as the neck, shoulder, back, or eating and sleeping disorders.

Stress in our everyday life is inevitable, but research published in UCLA Center East-West Medicine has shown that some foods have been scientifically shown to help you feel less stressed and anxious.

The healing properties of food have been reported by cultures worldwide throughout history. According to a 2016 study in the Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences, a balanced and nutritious diet may be the most important factor for having good health.

The following 7 foods have shown to help reduce stress and improve your quality of life.


In Japan, matcha has long been used for various medicinal purposes. Matcha contains L-theanine, a unique amino acid, capable of reducing stress. A 2018 study published in Nutrients journal, showed that matcha can reduce stress in humans and lab rats if theanine is high enough and the caffeine-to-theanine ratio is low.

The balance between the ingredients determines the quality of the green tea, because of this it is important to choose quality matcha products.

Note, it is not recommended to drink more than 2 cups (474 ml) of matcha per day.


Omega-3 and vitamin D have important benefits for brain and mental health. They are often found in fatty fish such as mackerel, herring, salmon, and sardines.

While Omega-3 has the ability to reduce inflammation, improve brain function, and has a close relationship with mental health, there is a lot of evidence that depression is linked to vitamin D deficiency.

Alberta Health Services recommends eating at least 2 meals of fish (about 100g per meal) a week.


Egg yolks are also high in vitamin D. Eggs also contain nutrients that help nerve cells communicate with each other more effectively.

In addition to being a quality protein source for the body, eggs also contribute to the creation of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps regulate mental state, sleep, memory, and behavior.


Flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are all excellent sources of magnesium. This nutrient helps support nerve pathways when they’re not working properly, which is through to leads to emotional disorders like depression and anxiety. Some studies have shown a link between low magnesium intake with an increased feeling of depression.

In addition, nuts are rich in iron, monounsaturated fats, and omega-3.


Artichokes have long been a valuable plant in medicine. Artichokes have a high content of two nutrients that are essential for healthy stress responses in the body vitamins C and K.

Currently, there is no specific instruction on how many artichokes should be consumed. According to a study published on PubMed, the dosage of artichoke leaf extracts commonly used in humans in the study was 300-640mg, 3 times per day.

Although there are many health benefits, in the following cases you should avoid using artichokes such as:

  • People allergic to this plant or other plants of the same family (such as chrysanthemums, sunflowers,…)
  • Women who are pregnant and breast-feeding
  • People with bile duct obstruction or gallstones


Sweet potatoes are foods that provide the body with good carbs and are rich in nutrients. This is one of the foods that are known as “Super Foods”.

Sweet potatoes include nutrients that play an important role in stress responses, such as vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. According to a nutritionist, sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants, which help reduce damage to brain cells, which can negatively impact mental health.

People with type 2 diabetes need to consult their doctor about how to safely include sweet potatoes in their daily meals.


Certain nutrients in broccoli may help slow the mental decline caused by aging. According to PubMed, a study of 960 people found that eating a serving of dark green vegetables, including broccoli per day, can fight against mental decline.

Broccoli also contains nutrients that help the body fight against symptoms of depression such as vitamin C, magnesium, and folate.

More studies are needed to fully understand the effects of broccoli on the human body.


Blueberries are low in calories but rich in nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and magnesium.

Blueberries are also high in antioxidants that help prevent aging. It also helps the brain pathways work better, supporting cognitive ability. Some studies show that eating fruits or drinking blueberry juice can help improve mood and protect from depression

That was a list of foods with high nutritional value, helping the body reduce stress. In addition to nutritional supplementation in diets, exercise, resting in moderation, or meditation, will also help you improve your quality of life, especially while complying with COVID-19 health and safety restrictions.

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This content is also available in: Tiếng Việt