9 Foods That Help or Hurt Anxiety

Food to Eat: Whole Wheat Bread

Carbohydrates also increase production of serotonin in the brain. When choosing mood-lifting carbs, go for whole grains, such as whole wheat bread or brown rice, rather than processed choices, such as sugar, candy, or even white bread and white rice, Villacorta said. Whole grains take longer for the body to break down, and release sugar into the bloodstream slowly. Processed carbs may give you an initial surge of energy, but that can be followed by an insulin rush, which rapidly drops blood sugar levels, ultimately leaving you feeling lethargic.

Food to Eat: Salmon

Evidence continues to mount that consuming omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, lake trout, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines, can be uplifting and enhance your mood. Some studies have shown that patients who took omega-3 fatty acids along with their prescription antidepressants improved more than those who took antidepressants alone. A possible side benefit: Omega-3s may reduce risk of heart disease.

Food to Eat: Greek Yogurt and Other High-Protein Foods

Protein helps stimulate the production of the brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine, which, like serotonin, are neurotransmitters and carry impulses between nerve cells. Higher levels of norepinephrine and dopamine have been shown to improve alertness, mental energy, and reaction time, Villacorta said. Good sources of protein include Greek yogurt, fish, meats, cheese, eggs, nuts, beans, soy, and lentils. “The ideal for mood-boosting,” Villacorta said, “is to combine complex carbohydrates and protein, and to spread your meals throughout the day.”