6 Low Carb Foods That Ease Anxiety

6 Low Carb Foods That Ease Anxiety

Video | Fatty Fish | Dark Chocolate | Almonds | Yogurt | Blueberries | Eggs

Anxiety is a growing concern among all age groups. There are natural remedies for reducing anxiety. Exercise will work, and breathing techniques may help, but what about food? 

There are foods that provide the brain with nutrients that lower anxiety symptoms. And the good news for low-carb dieters is that the anxiety-easing foods I’m about to share have fewer than 10 carbs per serving.

Low Carb Foods that Ease Anxiety – At-A-Glance

  • Fatty fish is rich in inflammation lowering omega-3s and vitamin D
  • Dark chocolate gets its anxiety-easing benefits from flavanols 
  • Almonds have a rich supply of healthy fats, vitamin E, and magnesium
  • Yogurt contains probiotics that support gut health and the gut-brain axis
  • Blueberries are high in antioxidants, such as flavonoids and vitamin C
  • Eggs get their calming effect from tryptophan and vitamin D

6 Low Carb Foods That Ease Anxiety [Video]

In this video, you’ll learn…

  • Six foods that ease anxiety!
  • The specific nutrients within each food have this effect.
  • Portion sizes, what to look for at the store, and ways to prepare these foods.

#1 Fatty Fish

A great no-carb food to base meals and snacks around is fatty fish. This includes salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel. These types of fish are credited with many health benefits. When it comes to easing anxiety, the benefit lies in their rich supply of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. The anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3s is thought to support and protect brain health (1).

And both nutrients play a role in regulating serotonin, which is a brain chemical that strongly impacts your mood (2).

Our bodies produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. But many people do not get enough sun exposure or enough of the nutrient through foods, partly because there’s not a huge selection of foods, outside of fatty fish and egg yolks, which I will discuss in a moment, that are naturally high in vitamin D. 

Fatty Fish

This is not an article on supplements. However, because there is such a strong link between low vitamin D levels and anxiety and depression, you may want to consider taking a supplement. I will say that when I started supplementing my diet with vitamin D years ago, it made a noticeable improvement in my mood. I am not promoting a product, but I will share that I take Cataplex D by Standard Process. 

As for making fish choices, wild-caught tends to have higher amounts of vitamin D and omega-3s and can be purchased fresh or frozen. Wild-caught salmon is available in packets for a lower expensive option that can be used in meals or on top of a salad. And while it is not for everyone, canned sardines make for an affordable snack option or recipe ingredient. 

#2 Dark Chocolate 

The good news is that dark chocolate is the next anxiety-easing food on our list. The bad news is that not just any dark chocolate will do. Just putting the word “dark” on the label of a chocolate bar does not ensure that it has the antioxidants that benefit brain function. 

The anxiety-easing benefits seem to come from a specific sub-type of antioxidants called flavanols (3).

Generally speaking, the higher the percentage of cacao in the chocolate product, the higher the flavanol content, with the benefits starting at 70%. Unfortunately, as the percentage of cacao increases, so does the bitterness. To make dark chocolate more palatable, many brands add sugar. 

Sugar is an anxiety-causing food, and it stimulates your appetite. So too much added sugar will negate the antioxidant benefits. 

If you follow my blog, you may have seen my blood sugar tests for dark chocolates.

The best choice was 92% cacao. A 3-square serving (34g) has 10 grams of carbs and four grams of fiber. It caused a stable blood sugar response, has a good level of cacao, and just a touch of sweetness, so it didn’t stimulate my appetite. The 86% cacao was not quite as good but still produced a favorable blood sugar response. 

Dark Chocolate 

This 86% to 92% range might be the sweet spot, so to speak, for using dark chocolate to ease anxiety. Despite research on the foods we are discussing, the mechanisms that produce the results are speculative. Researchers looking into how chocolate affects mood proposed a simple theory. They stated, “By its unique combination of sweetness, taste, and texture, chocolate is one of the most palatable foods, contributing to mood effects.” (4).

In other words, simply eating a couple of squares of dark chocolate has a calming effect. Therefore, by choosing 86 to 92% dark chocolate, you get mental comfort as well as a nutrient benefit without stimulating cravings.  

#3 Almonds

Almonds also make our list because of their rich supply of healthy fats and vitamin E. When I was teaching, I would tell my students to envision a big letter “E” with a Superman cape because this vitamin was such a powerful antioxidant. 


Antioxidants are superheroes of your immune system, fighting cell-damaging free radicals. This protective effect reduces oxidative stress and inflammation, which could help ease anxiety. Almonds and other nuts and seeds also provide us with a good dose of magnesium. In my classrooms, we gave this nutrient the nickname “mellow magnesium” because it has a wide range of calming effects on your body, from more relaxed muscles to less anxiety.

I recommend buying raw almonds to avoid unhealthy oils and flavorings that stimulate your appetite. You can eat them raw or add a bit of crunch and flavor by toasting them in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 7-8 minutes or until they are fragrant and golden. 

Raw or lightly toasted, almonds make a nice portable low-carb snack with only 6 carbs and 4 grams of fiber in a 1-ounce serving, which is about 25 almonds.  

#4 Yogurt

Yogurt is another food that makes our list, but much like chocolate, there are many types to choose from. Some are beneficial, and some are loaded with anxiety-causing sugar. The beneficial yogurts are unsweetened and contain probiotics that support gut health. 


An aspect of healthy living that has been getting more and more attention is the link between the digestive tract and the brain, referred to as the gut-brain axis. Harvard Health explained this connection well: “A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression.

You can choose Greek or regular yogurt, but for the best gut health benefits, select full-fat, unsweetened yogurt with live active cultures, such as Fage 5% milk fat yogurt, which has five carbs in a 3/4 cup serving. 

If you’ve been low carb or keto for a while, you eat very little, if any, added sugar. So, unsweetened yogurt taste good to you. However, if you aren’t quite at that point, you may want to add some natural sweetness by adding berries. 

#5 Blueberries 

When the focus is on easing anxiety, blueberries are the ones that get singled out. The most striking feature of blueberries is their bright, rich color. Vibrant colors in fruits and vegetables indicate a rich supply of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them beneficial to eat. When considering anxiety, blueberries are quite high in flavonoids and vitamin C, both of which act as antioxidants, reducing oxidative stress, as I mentioned earlier.

You can buy them and eat them fresh or frozen. A half-cup serving has about 10 carbs and 2 grams of fiber. 


#6 Eggs

We will round out our list with one of the most versatile low-carb foods, the egg. A single large egg has less than one carb but provides an abundant amount of tryptophan. That name might sound familiar because tryptophan is the nutrient that gets blamed for making us feel sleepy after eating a big turkey dinner for Thanksgiving. While it isn’t the tryptophan alone that makes us sleepy, this nutrient has been shown to have a calming effect and reduce anxiety (5).

Eggs also contain vitamin D, the mood-boosting nutrient in fatty fish. 



The foods I mentioned help ease anxiety because of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they contain. I realize that trying to keep all of these nutrients and their benefit straight is hard to do. But, we can simplify things because there is one thing that these foods have in common. They fall under the umbrella of minimally processed whole foods. 

Whole foods are those that, when you look at them, still resemble how they looked in nature. For example, a blueberry still looks like a blueberry that you pick from a bush. You don’t go out and pick a blueberry muffin off the bush because that muffin spent a lot of time inside a factory being processed. Processed and refined foods with added sugar lead to more anxiety, so the more you can get away from them, the better you’ll feel. 

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!


(1) Liao, Yuhua, et al. “Efficacy of omega-3 PUFAs in depression: a meta-analysis.” Translational psychiatry 9.1 (2019): 190.

(2) Patrick, R. P., and B. N. Ames. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Vitamin D May Control Brain Serotonin. Affecting Behavior and Psychiatric Disorders.” J. Fed. Am. Soc. Exp. Biol 6 (2015): 28.

(3) Socci, Valentina, et al. “Enhancing human cognition with cocoa flavonoids.” Frontiers in Nutrition 4 (2017): 19.

(4) Tuenter, Emmy, Kenn Foubert, and Luc Pieters. “Mood components in cocoa and chocolate: the mood pyramid.” Planta medica 84.12/13 (2018): 839-844.

(5) Aucoin, Monique, et al. “Diet and anxiety: A scoping review.” Nutrients 13.12 (2021): 4418.

About the Author

Becky Gillaspy, DC, is the author of The Intermittent Fasting Guide and Cookbook. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991. 

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