It’s normal to feel anxious sometimes. Maybe you’re stressed with work or nervous about a big event. However, if piles up, anxiety isn’t good for your health. But what if peanut butter could help?
Peanut butter contains nutrients that promote mental health. It may also ease depression, which often shows up with anxiety. The two conditions share many symptoms.1
Here’s how peanut butter can help ease anxiety.
The body needs protein to stay healthy. It’s one of the three major macronutrients! Nut products – like peanut butter – are a great source.
Protein is made of amino acids, which are the building blocks of your body.2 They can be found in every single cell.3 Plus, all biological processes need protein, from cell growth to chemical reactions. They’re also needed to send messages throughout the body – including your brain.4
All of this controls anxiety. After all, physical and mental health go hand in hand. Without enough protein, your body can’t support the processes that keep you happy. Protein also keeps you energized. Otherwise, you’ll feel sluggish and down in the dumps. It’s the perfect set-up for anxiety.
Two tablespoons of peanut butter offer about 7.11 grams of protein.5 It’s a great way to boost your intake in a tasty, healthy way.
Peanut butter has many amino acids, but tryptophan is worth noting. It’s needed to make serotonin – a neurotransmitter that’s linked to mood.6
In fact, depression is often treated with anti-depressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. These drugs are designed to boost the brain’s serotonin levels.7 But like all drugs, there’s a risk for side effects and dependence.
Possible side effects include headaches, nausea, vomiting, digestive problems, and poor sexual drive. About 15 to 30 percent of people on SSRIs stop because of these side effects.8
This is where peanut butter comes in. As a rich source of tryptophan, peanut butter encourages serotonin production. It sure beats popping pills.
Peanut butter also contains vitamin B3 or niacin. This nutrient helps anxiety by helping the nervous system work properly. It also suppresses inflammation – a factor that’s thought to promote anxiety.9 10
Mild niacin deficiency is linked to depression, fatigue, and poor circulation. All of these symptoms won’t help anxiety! By getting enough niacin, you’ll keep your mood in check. Tryptophan in peanut butter will also help. The body uses it to make niacin, too.
Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 4.2 milligrams of niacin.11 It’ll help you reach the recommended intake of 16 milligrams for men and 14 milligrams for women. Other sources include beets, salmon, beef kidney, tuna, and sunflower seeds.12
If you are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, avoid peanut butter. It’s one of the most common food allergens. Symptoms may include itching, hives, nausea, and tingling in the mouth or throat. In rare cases, it can be life-threatening.13
Peanut butter isn’t a cure for anxiety. Yet, it can be part of a healthy diet that manages anxious feelings. Exercise, yoga, and natural sunlight will also help.
|↑1||Depression. Anxiety and Depression Association of America.|
|↑2||Amino acids. MedlinePlus.|
|↑3||Protein in diet. MedlinePlus.|
|↑4||What are proteins and what do they do? U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑5, ↑11||Basic Report: 16398, Peanut butter, smooth style, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑7||Marken, Patricia A., and J. Stuart Munro. “Selecting a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor: clinically important distinguishing features.” Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry 2, no. 6 (2000): 205.|
|↑8||Anderson, Heather D., Wilson D. Pace, Anne M. Libby, David R. West, and Robert J. Valuck. “Rates of 5 common antidepressant side effects among new adult and adolescent cases of depression: a retrospective US claims study.” Clinical therapeutics 34, no. 1 (2012): 113-123.|
|↑9, ↑12||Vitamin B3 (Niacin). University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑10||Vogelzangs, N., A. T. F. Beekman, P. De Jonge, and B. W. J. H. Penninx. “Anxiety disorders and inflammation in a large adult cohort.” Translational psychiatry 3, no. 4 (2013): e249.|
|↑13||Peanut Allergy. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.|