10 foods that reduce anxiety

The next time you feel overwhelmed, eat your way calm by putting these superfoods on your plate.
© 2013 Weider Publications // © 2013 Weider Publications

Here's some good news to keep in mind the next time you're stressed out: Eating may be a stay-calm trick. We're not talking about stuffing yourself with your typical go-to comfort food, such as mac and cheese or French fries, because that will only leave you feeling guilty and even more anxious. Instead, feed your face with one (or more) of these 10 superfoods to feel at ease fast.

--By Tanya Zuckerbrot

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1 of 12 Man stressed out (Yuri_Arcurs/Getty Images)


Depression has been linked to low levels of folic acid, and one vegetable that boosts this mood-enhancing nutrient is asparagus. A single cup provides two-thirds of your daily value, and it’s easy to fit asparagus into almost any meal. Some ideas: Sauté some asparagus tips for a tasty omelet. Go with steamed or grilled spears as a side vegetable for meat, fish or poultry. Snack on some steamed spears by dipping in some dressing.

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2 of 12 Asparagus (iStock/Getty Images)


We need B vitamins for healthy nerves and brain cells, and feelings of anxiety may be rooted in a B vitamin deficiency. Avocados are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins. Bonus: They're also high in monounsaturated fat and potassium, which help lower blood pressure. Next time stress has you reaching for a pint of full-fat ice cream, opt for a non-dairy DIY version made with avocado blended with a ripe banana, vanilla extract, nut milk and non-nutritive sweetener. Freeze, then chill-out.

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3 of 12 Fresh avocados (Jupiterimages/Getty Images)


Blueberries may seem small, but just a handful pack a powerful punch of antioxidants and vitamin C, making them mighty stress-busters. When we’re stressed, our bodies need vitamin C and antioxidants to help repair and protect cells. While blueberries are tasty all by themselves (tip: freeze them for a cold berry snack), there’s no better way to boost the nutrition in a serving of yogurt or high-fiber cereal.

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4 of 12 Blueberries (Karen Schuld/Getty Images)


A glass of warm milk before bed is a time-tested remedy for insomnia and fidgetiness. That’s because milk is high in antioxidants, vitamins B2 and B12, as well as protein and calcium. The protein lactium has a calming effect by lowering blood pressure, while the potassium in milk can help relieve muscle spasms triggered by feeling tense.

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5 of 12 Glass of milk (Tetra Images/Getty Images)


Get some stress-relief munching on almonds, which are rich in vitamins B2 and E. Both of these nutrients help bolster the immune system during times of stress. Just a quarter cup of almonds each day does the trick. For variety, spread some almond butter on fruit slices or whole wheat crackers.

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6 of 12 Almonds (Rashmi Varier/Getty Images)


There's a reason orange juice is said to be part of the breakfast of champions: Vitamin C is another vitamin known to lower blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol. For a quick burst of vitamin C, simply eat a whole orange or drink a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice without added sugar.

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7 of 12 Orange fruit (iStock/Getty Images)


Put more fish on your dish to help you feel at ease. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps keep cortisol and adrenaline from spiking when you're feeling tense. Salmon is one of the very best sources of omega-3s: Consuming 4 ounces at least three times a week goes a long way toward protecting your heart when those stress hormones are surging.

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8 of 12 Roasted salmon steak (iStock/Getty Images)


Make like Popeye and fill up on spinach. Leafy greens may not be your idea of comfort food, but spinach can have a comforting effect. Spinach is packed with magnesium, the mineral that helps regulate cortisol levels and promote feelings of wellbeing. A mere cup of spinach fills 40 percent of your daily quota, so slip some in with your morning eggs, swap for lettuce in your sandwich, have a salad, steam it as a side dish, or drop a handful of leaves into your soup.

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9 of 12 Spinach (iStock/Getty Images)


That sleepy feeling you get after eating Thanksgiving dinner is due to the amino acid tryptophan found in turkey. Tryptophan signals the brain to release the feel-good chemical serotonin, which promotes calmness and even tiredness.

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10 of 12 Sliced Turkey Breast (iStock/Getty Images)