Foods to Help You Reduce Anxiety and Depression

When it comes to managing your mental health, it’s important to recognize that even the smallest daily behaviors can have a big impact on your mood. This includes what you eat.

As your resident nutritionist, I am going to reveal some of the best foods to help support your mental health.

Navigating anxiety and depression can be overwhelming, especially when you have a lot on your plate. But taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be another daunting task on your to-do list. By incorporating certain foods and nutrients into your diet, you can help manage your mental health and improve your overall well-being.

Manage Your Mood with Food

The foods you eat play a crucial role in your mental health and stress levels. Certain foods can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression by fighting oxidative stress and inflammation, which are two mechanisms behind mental health issues. On the other hand, some of the worst foods for anxiety are those high in inflammatory ingredients.

Foods that are rich in gut-friendly nutrients, such as probiotics and fiber, can also support your mood. This is because the gut microbiome and brain are closely related. Incorporating lots of these foods that help reduce anxiety and depression severity and prevalence can be a more well-rounded approach to taking care of your mental health.

It is important to note that no single food can magically cure anxiety and depression, but your overall diet and your eating habits can play a huge role in improving your mental health. Of course, you have therapy and medication for those with severe mental health conditions. But using food and natural supplements to address depression and anxiety has shown amazing results. If you are experiencing mental health symptoms, do speak with your doctor, and if you can, speak to a qualified nutritionist.

Here are some foods that can help reduce anxiety and depression symptoms:

  • Fatty fish, such as salmon
  • Dark chocolate
  • Berries, particularly blueberries
  • Nuts and seeds, such as almonds and pumpkin seeds
  • Fermented foods, such as kimchi and sauerkraut
  • Leafy greens, such as spinach and kale

Incorporating these foods into your diet can be a simple yet effective way to support your mental health.

Fatty Fish

Regularly consuming fatty fish like salmon and tuna can provide support for healthy brain tissue and mental wellbeing, potentially reducing anxiety and depression. These fish are rich in omega-3 fats, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are highly beneficial for the brain. Both fats work by protecting the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation that are linked to mood disorders like anxiety and depression, as well as neurodegeneration that can influence memory loss, brain fog, and cognitive decline.

If you are not a fan of fish, you can still get omega-3 fats from plant-based sources like walnuts and chia seeds. Although these fats are not absorbed as well as those found in seafood, they still offer healthy brain benefits. You could also use a fish oil supplement.

Here is a table summarizing the benefits of consuming fatty fish:

Benefits of Fatty Fish
Supports healthy brain tissue
Reduces anxiety and depression
Protects the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation
May reduce the risk of neurodegeneration
Rich in omega-3 fats EPA and DHA

Incorporating fatty fish into your diet can be as simple as grilling a salmon fillet or adding canned mackerel to a salad. By doing so, you can reap the benefits of these healthy omega-3 fats and support your brain health and mental wellbeing.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods like plain yogurt, kimchi, and tempeh contain live bacterial cultures called probiotics. These bacteria help to replenish the population of good bacteria in the gut, which helps to balance the microbiome. As a result, consuming fermented foods can lead to lower inflammation and improve the production of neurotransmitters. These chemical messengers help to control mood and cognition, which can boost your overall mood and brain health. Incorporating fermented foods into your diet is a simple and natural way to improve your gut health and overall well-being.

Examples of Fermented Foods
Plain yogurt

Benefits of Fermented Foods:

  • Replenish good bacteria in the gut
  • Balance the microbiome
  • Lower inflammation
  • Improve production of neurotransmitters
  • Boost mood and brain health

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are packed with nutrients that can benefit brain health and mood. These greens contain polyphenols, vitamin E, and vitamin C, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties can help alleviate mental health symptoms. Vitamin C, in particular, can aid in clearing the body of excess cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone.” This can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Incorporating leafy greens into your diet can be a simple and effective way to support your mental health.

PolyphenolsAntioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
Vitamin EAntioxidant properties
Vitamin CAntioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, aids in clearing excess cortisol
  • Incorporating leafy greens into your diet can support brain health and mood.
  • Polyphenols, vitamin E, and vitamin C found in leafy greens have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Vitamin C can help clear excess cortisol, reducing feelings of stress and anxiety.


Berries are an excellent food for promoting a healthy gut and brain. Berries like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are rich in fiber, which helps to maintain microbial balance in the gut, leading to a better stress response, improved regulation of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, and lower levels of inflammation and oxidative stress. These benefits can help ease anxiety and depression.

Berries are also a great source of anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants that give them their iconic red-purple-blue hue. These compounds can regulate inflammation, control signals between neurons, and balance the gut, all of which contribute to a healthy mood.

Incorporating more berries into your diet is an easy way to support your gut and brain health. Consider adding them to your morning oatmeal, smoothies, or yogurt, or enjoy them as a snack on their own.


If you are a shellfish lover, you may want to consider adding oysters to your diet. Oysters are rich in zinc, an essential mineral that helps regulate the levels of neurotransmitters such as GABA and serotonin, both of which are crucial for mood and stress regulation. According to Dr. Naidoo, an average-sized oyster contains about 5 milligrams of zinc, which is almost half of the daily recommended zinc intake for adults. Eating just two or three oysters per day can help you meet your daily zinc needs. If you aren’t a fan of oysters, you can also get zinc from other shellfish like crabs or lobsters, as well as legumes, nuts, and beef.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a delicious treat that can also boost your mood. It contains antioxidant polyphenols that support brain function by controlling neuroinflammation and increasing the production of new neurons. Additionally, dark chocolate has a prebiotic effect on the gut, which means it feeds good gut bacteria and ultimately aids mental wellness via the gut-brain relationship. Finally, dark chocolate is a source of magnesium, a nutrient that helps calm the central nervous system and reduce anxiety. Incorporating dark chocolate into your diet can be a tasty and beneficial way to support your mental well-being.