To decrease stress and minimize anxiety, it’s important to consider the role of diet on our mental health. Getting the right vitamins and minerals each day could be the difference between a relaxing week versus a week full of panic attacks. To make getting these nutrients easier, I devised the ultimate anti-anxiety smoothie. Here’s what’s inside:
- 1 ¼ Cups Almond Milk (Substitute: Coconut Milk)
- 1 Spoonful Unflavored Greek Yogurt (Substitute: Coconut Cream)
- 1 oz Dark Chocolate (Substitute: Pinch of Cacao Powder)
- ½ Frozen Banana
- ¼ Cup Frozen Blueberries
- ½ Cup Spinach
- ¼ to ½ Avocado
- 1 Serving Matcha Powder (or 1 serving L-Theanine Powder)
- 1 Pinch Cinnamon
- 1 Pinch Turmeric
- 1 Pinch Ginger
If you don’t have access to, or can’t consume, any of these ingredients – no worries!
Keep reading, and I’ll offer some alternative ingredients for those with dietary restrictions. I’ll also explain the science behind how each ingredient could help decrease anxiety symptoms.
Let’s dive in!
The Ultimate Anti-Anxiety Smoothie Recipe
1. Toss all these ingredients into a blender and blend.
The Science Behind Each Ingredient
Psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological approaches to anxiety often fail to address the root cause of anxiety in the first place. Specifically, we tend to overlook the importance of nutrition in managing our anxiety symptoms. This is no small oversight.
Like any vehicle, our body can only run efficiently when we fuel it properly. For those with anxiety, it’s especially important to get this fuel early in the day. Going too long without a meal can make our blood sugar levels drop, causing stress and anxiety symptoms to increase.
If you’re anything like me (often rushing out the door without time to cook breakfast), an anti-anxiety smoothie could be your best bet. This anti-anxiety smoothie is packed with the exact nutrients needed for our body, and brain, to handle stress and operate efficiently. But, as always, please remember that I am not a doctor. This drink is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or disorder.
Now, let’s talk a bit about each ingredient and what they bring to the table.
Almonds, and thus almond milk, are fantastic sources of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a major antioxidant. When we’re particularly stressed out, our vitamin E levels deplete more rapidly. When low on vitamin E, we can experience more intense and unpleasant anxiety symptoms. Adequate vitamin E levels may help those with stress-induced psychiatric disorders, according to this study.
Almond milk is also an excellent source of magnesium and calcium. These minerals work closely together in the body, making it important to consume appropriate levels of each. Magnesium maintains a balance of hormones in the body. It also helps to regulate the heartbeat. As calcium makes the muscles contract, magnesium helps them relax. Studies have found magnesium supplementation to be effective at decreasing anxiety levels (Personal note: I have experienced heart palpitations due to low magnesium levels!).
Fun fact – When I was experimenting a bit to create this recipe, I was originally using water as the base for the smoothie. I realized how silly this was after blending some almonds and water together; I had unintentionally rediscovered almond milk! Obviously, it makes much more sense to just buy and use almond milk directly.
When taking a nutritional approach to our health, we often forget to pay attention to the biome of our gut. Did you know that the gut is often referring to as the “second brain?” The gut-brain connection is a powerful one. What happens in our digestive tract can directly influence our anxiety levels for better or for worse.
Fermented foods like yogurt are full of “good” probiotic bacteria that promote gut health (source). Because serotonin is mostly made in our gut, this could also bring about some mood-boosting benefits.
One study found that fermented foods could even help decrease social anxiety symptoms in those genetically prone to them.
Yogurt is also a good source of magnesium and calcium.
Unflavored Greek yogurt will likely contain the greatest level of beneficial probiotics.
If you are lactose sensitive or lactose intolerant, you should skip this ingredient. After all, an upset stomach will only make your anxiety worse. Instead, try to include some type of fermented food elsewhere in your diet (kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, etc.).
Does dark chocolate help anxiety? Research seems to indicate that it can. Don’t just toss any old delicious chocolate in your anti-anxiety smoothie, though.
Dark chocolate (chocolate with no added milk solids) can be an excellent anti-anxiety ingredient. Just be sure to go for 70% cacao or higher. Researchers suggest that eating dark chocolate may increase serotonin in the brain; perhaps this is why we’re in such a good mood after wolfing down our favorite candy bar. This study found consumption of chocolate to be an effective way to reduce stress for some.
Dark chocolate is also an excellent source of magnesium and stress-reducing antioxidants. These antioxidants, called flavonoids, have been found to improve cerebral blood flow while reducing inflammation and cell death in the brain. Ultimately, this can improve cognitive function and reduce stress.
The only majorly apparent downside to dark chocolate is the risk of overeating it. Scientists believe, however, that in this case, the risk seems to be outweighed by the reward. Just try to exhibit some self-control here. 😉
Most people think of potassium when they think of bananas. True to their reputation, bananas are an excellent source of potassium, which can help to lower blood pressure and risk of heart disease (source). Decreased hypertension from potassium can also help us to feel more relaxed and generally less anxious.
Bananas also contain a good deal of L-tryptophan. The same way we feel fat and happy after eating turkey, the L-tryptophan in bananas can also help to boost our mood and relax us. This is because L-tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin. A study found that low serotonin contributes to a lowered mood state, and cognitive impairment; whereas tryptophan supplementation has positive effects on memory and attention.
Bananas are also an excellent source of magnesium, vitamin C, B6, manganese, and fiber.
Blueberries are renowned for their high levels of antioxidants such as vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and flavonoids. In fact, blueberries are thought to contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants – more so than almost any other fruits or vegetables. Antioxidants like vitamin C help to protect the body from free radicals that damage cells in the body through oxidative stress.
Studies suggest that vitamin C may be an effective supplemental treatment for anxiety, and may even improve academic performance. Vitamin C may also help to improve both cognitive function and mood.
Instead of adding ice to my anti-anxiety smoothies, I prefer to use frozen blueberries. This helps to increase the shelf life of my blueberries while creating a more refreshing and enjoyable beverage.
Spinach and other leafy greens are excellent sources of many vitamins and minerals. In particular, spinach is extremely high in vitamin K. It is also high in several B vitamins including folate (which helps to produce serotonin and dopamine). Finally, it contains a good deal of vitamin A, manganese, iron, magnesium, and copper.
Ultimately, spinach contains a number of nutrients that can be beneficial for anyone suffering from anxiety symptoms. Take a lesson from Popeye and stuff some of this leafy goodness into your next anti-anxiety drink.
Don’t worry, the flavor is extremely mild and will be diluted by the rest of the ingredients; you won’t even realize it’s there.
Avocados are often called a superfood due to how many nutrients and benefits are packed into this one fruit. Avocados are rich in monosaturated fats (good fats). These fats can help to prevent blood sugar spikes which may otherwise cause uncomfortable anxiety symptoms.
Additionally, avocados are an incredible source of B Vitamins (including folate). They’re also packed full of Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Potassium, Magnesium, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Combined, these nutrients can help our brain and body to reduce stress and perform optimally.
In this anti-anxiety smoothie, avocado can provide an extremely rich and silky texture. Because the shelf-life of avocados is quite short, I sometimes like to chop mine up and freeze them in advance. I actually prefer my smoothie a bit more on the icy side, anyway.
Matcha is an incredible replacement for coffee, or other caffeine sources. If you are a regular caffeine drinker and not ready to kick the habit, try adding a serving of matcha to your anti-anxiety smoothie. The caffeine in matcha can be comparable to coffee, but it’s a much “cleaner” energy source. Rather than feeling a quick, jittery surge of energy followed by a crash, matcha seems to provide a more relaxed and sustained energy boost.
Another great thing about matcha is that the powder can be mixed right into your anti-anxiety shake. No need to strain coffee ground or tea leaves in hot water or anything like that. Just mix it in and down the hatch it goes.
My favorite thing about matcha is the high level of L-theanine naturally present in it. L-theanine is a natural amino acid found in black tea, green tea, and some mushrooms. It is most abundant, however, in matcha. According to this study, L-Theanine could decrease stress-related ailments and cognitive impairments in some individuals. It seems to be an effective way to boost cognitive function while reducing stress.
While I ultimately recommend people with high anxiety levels avoid caffeine altogether, low doses of caffeine can bring some positive mood-boosting benefits. If you must drink caffeine, consider drinking this stress-reducing smoothie with matcha instead of a cup of coffee.
For those (like myself) who have sworn off caffeine altogether, you may still experience the benefits of L-theanine. Simply add a serving of L-theanine powder to your smoothie.
You can buy L-theanine powder here.
Cinnamon is an age-old anxiety remedy often used as an ingredient in many anti-anxiety teas.
It is believed that cinnamon can help to regulate glucose levels; something that could be useful for those with anxiety. One study even found cinnamon to have anti-anxiety and anti-depressive effects in mice.
Not to mention, cinnamon brings a pleasant flavor to the mix in any smoothie.
Turmeric is often regarded as a superfood for the many potential benefits it can bring. Most notably, turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory. In many cases, inflammation can be a hidden source of anxiety for many people; without them ever knowing it. The curcumin in turmeric is also believed to possibly even reduce the risk or spread of cancer.
Turmeric is also considered an adaptogen. This means it works to counteract the effects of stress on the body. Specifically, turmeric is thought to help boost brain function and reduce depression.
This study found that curcumin (the main curcuminoid in turmeric) could help to alleviate or treat symptoms similar to those found in patients with PTSD.
Another study found curcumin to have a potential anti-anxiety effect in individuals with obesity.
Although it’s a common ingredient in many potent spice-based cuisines, the taste is mild enough to blend in among the other ingredients in this anti-anxiety smoothie.
Often thought of as a flavor enhancer and stomach-soother, ginger may also be an effective natural remedy for anxiety symptoms. It is thought that ginger may improve brain function, as well as providing antioxidant support and reducing stress.
One animal study found ginger extract to be an effective replacement for benzodiazepines to reduce anxiety symptoms in mice.
Just a small pinch will do it in this anti-anxiety smoothie. Too much and the flavor can be overbearing for some people.
Why I Chose These Ingredients for the Ultimate Anti-Anxiety Smoothie
When creating the ultimate anti-anxiety smoothie, I had a few goals in mind. I wanted to be sure that this smoothie was:
- Effective at Relieving Anxiety Symptoms with Minimal Risk of Side Effects
- Relatively Easy to Prepare
- Inclusive for Most Dietary Restrictions
Obviously, I wanted to choose ingredients that were effective. While I am not a doctor, nor a nutritionist, I made sure to read through a ton of research papers and scientific journals to determine the best anti-anxiety ingredients possible.
In general, many anti-anxiety smoothie recipes include ingredients like CBD, lavender, soy protein, etc. While those can be good additions for some people, ingesting them may also bring unpleasant side effects. It is my opinion that a smoothie should be conservative in its ingredient profile; that way it’s more appropriate for long-term, regular consumption.
Beyond this, I also wanted to be sure that the smoothie was easy to make. Looking at some of the existing smoothie recipes out there, I realized that some of them could be a bit tedious to prepare. My recipe doesn’t try to be fancy or photogenic, it tries to be effective. The hardest step in my smoothie is peeling the banana. Most of the ingredients also have an extremely long shelf-life (and those that don’t, can be frozen), so there’s minimal risk of wasting ingredients if you’re not feeling like making a smoothie every day.
Finally, if you have any dietary restrictions (vegan, lactose intolerance, caffeine-free, etc.) it’s relatively easy to omit or substitute any of the ingredients in this smoothie. As I mentioned, I skip the matcha myself; and the smoothie’s no worse for wear without the yogurt. Feel free to experiment a bit with the recipe to find the right taste for you!
Some of these ingredients are associated with an almost immediate boost in mood and energy. Other benefits, I expect, may occur over more of a long-term period. I’d recommend drinking this anti-anxiety smoothie regularly for a while and seeing how you feel after some time.
If you need a more immediate or potent anxiety solution, I suggest checking out our Anxiety Supplements section.
I used this Ninja Professional 1500. Honestly, it’s the best kitchen appliance I’ve ever owned. It’s as loud as a lawnmower, but it can literally turn ice into snow in about 3 seconds. I genuinely can’t recommend this thing enough.
Not at all. I tried my best to choose ingredients that worked well and tasted decently together. The more of them you use the better, but you certainly don’t need to use them all. Admittedly, I’m no Top Chef. Feel free to pull inspiration from my ingredients and craft something that’s more appealing to your pallet.
To be completely honest, I have never personally used a juicer before. If I ever get my hands on one, I’ll be sure to update you with an article on the best anti-anxiety juice.