10 Foods That Can Cause Anxiety & 10 That Can Help Reduce It

10 Foods That Can Cause Anxiety & 10 That Can Help Reduce It

Anxiety, a common yet complex emotion, can be exacerbated by certain foods, despite their deliciousness or perceived health benefits. In this article, we're diving into 10 foods that, while they may be a staple in your pantry or a treat you look forward to, could be contributing to your feelings of anxiety.

1. Caffeinated Beverages

Ah, coffee – the elixir of life for many of us. But did you know that your beloved morning cup (or cups) of joe could be adding to your anxiety levels? Caffeine is a stimulant, and while it perks you up, it can also trigger a fast heartbeat and nervousness, mimicking feelings of anxiety.

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2. Sugar-Sweetened Drinks

Soda, energy drinks, and even some fruit juices can seem like a quick energy fix, but they're often loaded with sugar. This sweet culprit can cause blood sugar levels to spike and crash, leading to a rollercoaster of energy levels and moods, including increased feelings of anxiety.

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3. Processed Foods

Processed foods are convenient and often addictive, but they're not the best friends of our mental health. High in sugar, fat, and salt, these foods can affect our body's natural balance, leading to mood swings and heightened anxiety.

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4. Alcohol

It's often thought of as a social lubricant or a way to unwind, but alcohol has a darker side when it comes to anxiety. It can disrupt sleep and alter brain chemistry, leading to increased anxiety and stress levels, especially once its calming effects wear off.

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5. High-Sodium Foods

Foods high in sodium, like canned soups, fast food, and salty snacks, can raise blood pressure and put a strain on your cardiovascular system. This physical stress can in turn contribute to feelings of anxiety, making you feel more on edge.

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6. Artificial Sweeteners

Those zero-calorie sweeteners might not be the anxiety-free alternative to sugar you thought they were. Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners can cause headaches and mood changes in some people, potentially leading to increased anxiety.

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7. High-Fat Dairy Products

While dairy products can be a good source of calcium and vitamin D, high-fat dairy items like whole milk and cheese can exacerbate anxiety in some individuals. The high fat content can affect hormone levels and mood, contributing to anxiety.

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8. Refined Carbohydrates

White bread, pastries, and other refined carbs are not just bad for your waistline; they can also impact your mood. These foods can cause quick spikes in blood sugar levels, followed by rapid drops, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and irritability.

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9. Spicy Foods

You may be able to handle your spice but what you might not realize is the spicier the food, the more it can cause distress for your nervous system. If you're prone to anxiety, spicy foods might stimulate your senses to a point of discomfort, contributing to your anxiety levels.

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10. Energy Drinks

Packed with caffeine and sugar (anxiety's biggest enemies), energy drinks might seem like the perfect pick-me-up. However, they can overstimulate the central nervous system, leading to increased heart rate and anxiety. Plus, the crash after the high can leave you feeling even more anxious.

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Just as certain foods can ramp up our anxiety levels, others can serve as calming agents, bringing a sense of balance and peace to our otherwise hectic lives. Here are 10 foods that have the potential to lower our anxiety levels, making our days a little brighter and our nights a little more serene. 


1. Salmon

Salmon isn't just delicious; it's a powerhouse of omega-3 fatty acids, known for their anti-anxiety effects. These healthy fats can improve brain health, aiding in the regulation of neurotransmitters that are responsible for keeping our mood stable. Plus, it's a great excuse to have sushi more often!

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2. Dark Chocolate

Before you reach for that candy bar, hear me out: dark chocolate, in moderation, can actually help reduce anxiety. It's rich in flavonoids, which improve brain function and blood flow, potentially reducing stress levels. Plus, the act of savoring a piece of dark chocolate can be a mindful practice in itself.

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3. Yogurt

Fermented foods like yogurt contain probiotics, which play a crucial role in gut health. A happy gut is linked to a happy mind, thanks to the gut-brain axis. Including probiotic-rich foods in your diet can promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, which is associated with reduced anxiety and stress levels.

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4. Green Tea

Swap out your coffee for a cup of green tea and you might notice a soothing difference. Green tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which has been shown to have calming effects on the brain, reducing stress and anxiety without making you feel drowsy.

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5. Blueberries

Small but mighty, blueberries are bursting with antioxidants and vitamin C, which have stress-reducing properties. Their high antioxidant content can help repair and protect your cells from stress-related damage, making them a tiny, tangy tool in your anxiety-reduction toolkit.

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6. Avocados

Avocados are not just for toast; they're also a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that plays a key role in your body's stress response system. Magnesium can help calm the nervous system and promote relaxation, making avocados a creamy and comforting choice for those looking to ease anxiety.

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7. Almonds

A handful of almonds can be a crunchy way to fight anxiety, thanks to their high vitamin E content, which is known for its antioxidant properties that can help combat stress. Almonds also contain B vitamins, which are essential for brain health and mood regulation.

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8. Spinach

Popeye may have been onto something. Spinach and other leafy greens are high in magnesium, which, as mentioned with avocados, helps in calming the nervous system. Incorporating more greens into your diet can be a simple, nutritious way to help manage anxiety.

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9. Turkey Breast

Turkey isn't just for Thanksgiving; it contains tryptophan, an amino acid that your body uses to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. Including turkey in your meals can provide your body with the building blocks it needs for a serene state of mind.

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10. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea is a traditional remedy for anxiety and sleep issues. Its calming effects are thought to be due to its antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory properties, making it the perfect bedtime ritual for a restful night's sleep and reduced anxiety.

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