7 Foods that Fight Depression
Author: Justin Mckibben
Food has a huge impact on your mood, who knew? I mean we all know that food is important for our physical health, and many of us are aware of the benefits it has for mental health. But also, food has a way of helping regulate our mood through the mind, and as an excellent source of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants growing research supports the theory of our everyday diets being able to improve our mood and help with treating depression and anxiety.
Most of the modern diet can be addictive. It is bad for us in a lot of ways, especially fast food because it is:
- Highly processed
So we end up taking in extra calories without any real nutrition. Animal studies have also determined there types of food lead to higher anxiety and depression, while “comfort foods” high in sugar, fat, and sodium are extremely addictive, but still unhealthy for our bodies, minds, and moods.
Here are 7 foods that fight depression, and how they help.
- Greens and broccoli
Yes… we know, you’ve been told since you were a kid to eat your greens to get healthy, but they actually do effect your mood. Leafy greens such as kale and bok choy contain:
- Vitamin K
Folate specifically has been used to improve depression. Leafy greens also contain compounds that help the liver process toxins better, flushing more of the bad stuff out of the system that contributes to anxiety and depression.
- Mixed Nuts
Raw or unsalted nuts are typically a great source of Vitamin E, and one study found that depression can be significantly reduced with a Mediterranean diet complemented by daily dose of 30 grams of mixed nuts such as:
- Mussels and oysters.
Shellfish is up there too. I’m personally not the biggest fan, but I’m warming up to the idea of oysters considering they contain plenty of Vitamin B12, which is important for neurotransmitters in the brain and nerves, which of course connect directly to processing internal and external stress.
It’s important to find alternative sources of vitamin B12 for people who are vegetarian, since B12 is primarily found in meats.
- Fish and Fish Oil
Studies have indicated a diet high in fish can reduce depression, some suggest it’s because fish is often a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, an effective supplement to treatment for depression.
If you’re using fish oil omega-3 fatty acid supplements, research has recommend 1 to 3 grams daily for mood. For the best results it has been suggested when using omega-3fatty acid supplements there should be more eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) than docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), so pay attention to the label for the better mood enhancer.
- Peas and Beans
Legumes (beans, peas, etc.) contain high levels of folate and zinc, which are both nutrients used as effective supplements for treating depression.
Balancing your diet with zinc is particularly important for vegetarians and vegans since the absorption of zinc can be reduced by 50% from phytates, which are found in plants.
Meanwhile, beans like black eyed peas also contain high levels of folate.
- Dark Chocolate and Raw Cacao
Cocoa polyphenols is a type of antioxidant in plants research has found to improve calmness and contentedness, and it is found in:
- Dark chocolate
- Cacao (unroasted cacao beans)
Raw cacao powder and nibs do not contain any added sugar, and are an awesome compliment to smoothies. And let’s get real, when was the last time you were depressed with a smoothie in your hand?
- Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are just loaded with all types of stuff to fight depression. Measuring 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds alone contains almost half the daily recommended dose for magnesium, which is an essential mineral to protect you from depression and anxiety.
Pumpkin seeds also contain:
- Plant-based omega-3 fatty acids
The last of which promotes healthy sleep, which is shown to increase mood and defend against depression. Maybe pumpkin spice season has the right idea after all.
Depression isn’t an easy fix at all, and that isn’t at all what this article is about. But what we can recognize is that diet has a lot to do with the way our mind and body regulate themselves, and every little bit of positive habits for promoting mental health makes a difference. Depression can be crippling and overwhelming, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t little details in our day to day we can change to impact it.
Depression, addiction and even eating disorders are all closely related, so healthy choices can be a good start to substantial change. Sometimes the healthiest choice there can be is to seek help.
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