Did you know that you can greatly affect your mood with food, in good and in bad? Think of the last time when you ate junk food. It tasted heavenly and boosted your mood for a very short time, but very soon after that you felt terribly miserable. Guilty, anxious, even nauseous. Sounds familiar, right?
When food can have that tremendous effect on healthy people, it certainly has even bigger impact on people with mental disorders, like anxiety and depression. Therefore it’s essential to ditch the junk food and boost your well-being with right food choices. You cannot believe how well you can beat anxiety with right foods and holistic methods!
By now we all know that dark chocolate helps beat anxiety. Moreover, when you suffer from anxiety, you might lack some minerals. Magnesium is one of those, and anxiety and magnesium deficiency often go hand in hand. The best option is to get minerals from food sources. That’s why I created these anti-anxiety chocolate bars which are very nutrient-dense and full of essential vitamins and minerals. They are especially rich in magnesium.
Let’s take a better look of the ingredients and why I have chosen them for this anti-anxiety chocolate bar recipe.
There are several minerals that have an effect on your mood, and taking them helps with severe anxiety disorder or they boost your mood if you are just temporarily feeling low. Magnesium is one very important mineral related to anxiety. Even I have written a post about the best supplements for anxiety, I didn’t handle magnesium deficiency there. Why? I wanted to dedicate a whole post for magnesium and anxiety since magnesium is in my opinion one of the most important minerals related to your body functions — and your mind as well.
Yes, magnesium is important and you might consider taking it as supplement. But why not get some magnesium from food as well? In that case, which foods contain magnesium? The answer is actually simpler and more delicious than you might expect. Forget the slowly-and-painfully-killing (do I exaggerate here? Maybe, maybe not) whole grains, you don’t need them. There are better sources of magnesium. Instead, take dark, unsweetened cocoa powder and very dark chocolate – those taste terrific and are very rich in magnesium, too. Have also some seeds — like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and hemp seeds — and you’ve got the most magnesium-rich sources on earth. Moreover, these little gems contain a bunch of other important nutrients and minerals that help curb your anxiety.
In addition to seeds, there are numerous other foods that you can use to lift you up. Let’s take a look how to choose the best ingredients to make comforting anti-anxiety chocolate bars that improve your mood and help keep anxiety at bay. These delicious bars are good for your overall well-being, and they keep you sated, too!
Dark cocoa powder
Dark cocoa powder is one of the richest sources of magnesium. It has lots of antioxidants as well, especially if you use raw cocoa powder. Whatever cocoa powder you use, be sure to always choose dark, unsweetened cocoa powder. Like said, raw cocoa powder is best, however you can also use Dutch processed cocoa (that is processed without alkali) if you don’t easily find raw cocoa powder. Luckily ordering online is easy and doesn’t become too expensive in the end. Amazon and iHerb are my favorite places to order supplements and special groceries.
But why are cocoa powder and dark chocolate so effective against anxiety? We were already talking that they are rich in antioxidants, but dark chocolate and cocoa powder also reduce stress hormones like cortisol. The metabolism of people with anxiety differs from those who don’t suffer from anxiety. Eating chocolate affects the way how stress hormones are metabolized, some researchers say.
Coconut oil is real brain power elixir. Your brain is mostly fat, 60% of the dry matter, actually. Therefore, it’s important to include enough healthy fats in your diet to keep your brain nourished. As we now know, vegetable fats like canola, sunflower, safflower, soy and corn oil should be — if not banned — at least highly reduced because they oxidize easily and cause inflammation in your body. So, why is coconut oil better than those inferior canola and soy oils? There are many reasons to this. But first of all, let’s note that not all coconut oils are treated equal. The type you should use is raw, cold-pressed extra-virgin coconut oil, preferably organic. Since you can use the oil every day and it’s also great for skin care (anti-aging, great for treating wounds and scratches) because of its antibiotic properties, it’s cheaper to buy a big jar at once also that you won’t be suddenly running out of coconut oil. Since coconut oil is pure fat, it nourishes your brain. Why? The fats are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that only human breast milk and coconut oil contain in ample amounts. Just think of it: the mother nature takes care that babies get the most nourishing food possible, and the MCTs feed baby’s brain so that the brain cells can thrive. Therefore, as adult, you can enjoy these same brain-nourishing substances by taking coconut oil. Moreover, coconut oil makes your liver produce ketone bodies, an alternative energy source to glucose. Your brain can use ketones much better as energy than glucose. Ketones are pure energy, producing less oxidative damage than glucose, so your brain cells create much more energy from ketone bodies than it can create from glucose. Coconut oil is very successfully used in treating Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, being actually currently the best way to treat the symptoms. So, based on this, consuming coconut oil every day to treat your brain (and thus your anxiety!) is a brilliant idea.
Pumpkin seeds are also one of the richest sources of magnesium. In addition, they contain zinc that boosts immunity. They also have anti-diabetic effects, meaning that they help regulate insulin. What is great for people with anxiety and depression is, that pumpkin seeds contain lots of tryptophan that your body converts into serotonin. Pumpkin seeds are actually the best food source for tryptophan.
Like pumpkin seeds, also sunflower seeds contain lots of magnesium. In addition, they are the best source for Vitamin E. Sunflower seeds also contain an ample amount of B Vitamins like thiamine, and also other minerals like phosphorus, manganese, folate and selenium.
Hemp seeds (= hemp hearts) are really nutritious and contain lots of healthy fats and several minerals. They are especially great source of protein, that’s why there exist hemp protein products, however it’s best to enjoy your hemp seeds raw or lightly roasted, like in these chocolate bars. Hemp seeds are rich in vitamin E, and they also contain minerals like magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, zinc and iron. I have great news for women: hemp seeds may reduce PMS symptoms as well as symptoms of menopause. Doctors think these symptoms are caused by sensitivity to prolactin. Hemp seeds contain GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), which reduces the effects of prolactin. It is suggested that GLA helps regulate hormonal imbalances and inflammation that are characteristic to menopause.
Unrefined sea salt
Now we are talking about absolutely the richest source of magnesium: unrefined sea salt. Why unrefined? Because not all salt is created equal. Table salt — sodium chloride — doesn’t provide you with essential minerals but rather with synthetic chemicals some of which are dangerous. Some ferrocyanide and aluminosilicate on your steak, anyone? Table salt is harmful to your health, rising your blood pressure (read here more about hypertension and anxiety), causing kidney and gall bladder stones as well as rheumatism and arthritis. Natural, unrefined sea salt in turn has many benefits. When processed table salt makes your body easily retain water, natural unrefined sea salt helps your body get rid of excess water. Moreover, unrefined sea salt and its minerals help your body regulate blood pressure, they nourish your brain (important for people with anxiety!) and transfer different nutrients between your cells.
I’ve covered this topic quite extensively here, here and here, and comprehensively tested some flavored stevias here. Actually I’ve talked about natural sweeteners in every anti-anxiety recipe I’ve posted so far so I will talk about natural sweeteners only very shortly. Well, now you must think that I use plenty of sweeteners and promote their use. Actually, quite the opposite: in my opinion the best option is to cope completely without anything with added sweetness, be it sugar, artificial sweetener or natural sweetener. The food items that naturally contain a reasonable amount of sugars (emphasize on word reasonable), like wild berries, are completely okay, but if you feel the urge to sprinkle some sweetener on your berries, that’s neither natural nor necessary at all.
However, sometimes it’s okay to use natural sweeteners, but only if you tolerate them. Moreover, when you cut out sugar and wean yourself off it, using natural sweeteners might help you get through this phase. They satisfy your cravings without spiking your blood sugar levels or wreaking havoc on your mood, and they are harmless compared to artificial sweeteners which can have serious effects on your gut health or affect brain, like aspartame is said to do, for example.
From my other posts you might be familiar that the sweeteners I use are erythritol and stevia. You might want to experiment with xylitol as well, it’s great for teeth but for some people it causes upset stomach and it sometimes (though very seldom) rises blood sugar levels. So, in case you want to use sweeteners I encourage you to experiment your individual tolerance to erythritol and stevia. Of course these two don’t taste exactly like sugar, but pretty close, depending on the brand. When you keep these sweeteners as occasional treats, you can afford better quality which also ensures that there is hardly no aftertaste at all. For erythritol, my favorite brands are Sukrin and Natvia. If you live in the US, you can easily buy Sukrin online here. Be sure to give a try to my all-time favorite brown sugar substitute, it’s the healthiest brown sugar substitute there currently is! (I’m not paid for saying this! I just like the stuff.) If you are not living in the US, you can find your Sukrin retailer here.
While Sukrin is a Scandinavian brand for erythritol, Natvia is an Australian brand. If you live in the US, the best option to get Natvia is Amazon. The sweetener meant for baking has a slight caramel scent which is absolutely delicious, however the sweetener is made from all natural ingredients and it’s calorie-free. The icing sugar substitute (powdered erythritol) has almost no aftertaste and it’s equally good with Sukrin Melis. However, I recommend to try both to find which one is your favorite.
But now, you must again be waiting for the recipe, here it comes, I bet you won’t be disappointed!
|Nutrition information||Protein||Fat||Net carbs||kcal|
|In total:||45.0 g||181.5 g||18.7 g||1876 kcal|
|Per serving if 16 servings in total:||2.8 g||11.3 g||1.2 g||117 kcal|