Depression is the top cause of disability worldwide, affecting more than 300 million individuals annually. While depression treatment can be multifaceted, there are several steps you can take to improve your mood naturally, including eating foods for depression.
Diet and nutrition play crucial roles in managing your well-being and boosting your energy. The best foods for depression include readily available items and produce that you may already have in your kitchen.
Walnuts are already a top nut for heart health, thanks to their powerful combo of omega-3s, vitamin E, and antioxidants, but they may also reduce your risk for depression. A study published earlier this year that analyzed data from over 26,000 U.S. adults found that those who regularly ate walnuts had a significantly reduced risk for depression. In fact, the study found that depression scores were 26% lower for individuals who ate approximately 1 ounce of walnuts each day and 8% lower in those who ate 1 ounce of another type of nut each day, when compared to others who didn’t regularly consume nuts.
While searching for foods that counter depression, look for the healthy, high-fiber carbohydrates present in whole grains. Complex carbohydrates help to improve mood rapidly. This includes Whole grains like brown rice, barley, sweet potatoes, and amaranth are all good choices. They assist the body release serotonin. Also, if you want to lose weight then indulging in these grains can fetch you amazing results.
Eating foods like fruits and vegetables can be one of the most powerful ways to fight inflammation because they contain antioxidants, compounds that help protect your cells from the damage caused by inflammation. Here are some foods rich in antioxidants:
If you needed another excuse to dive into a chocolate indulgence, here you have it. Dark chocolate helps depression, and it can also help improve your overall health. Contrary to popular belief, dark chocolate can be extremely nutritious. A chocolate bar containing 70-85% cocoa can have 11 grams of fiber, 89% of the recommended daily intake for copper, 98% of the recommended daily intake for manganese, and 67% of the recommended daily intake for iron.
Dark chocolate also contains exceptional levels of antioxidant activity. Some research suggests that cocoa has even higher levels than fruit (including blueberries). Like other healthy foods, it can also improve brain function, protect the skin from harmful sun damage, and reduce heart disease risk.
Best of all? Research in a 30-day trial showed that eating dark chocolate positively impacted mood. Here’s your permission to indulge in moderation and reap the dark chocolate depression benefits.
Bananas are a tasty and convenient snack, and bananas help depression. That’s because the fruit contains serotonin, an essential neurotransmitter that balances mood and daily functioning. Most antidepressants work to boost serotonin levels in the brain.
That said, eating a banana doesn’t improve your mood directly. The serotonin doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier. However, bananas do contain vitamin B6, which helps the body create serotonin. You need the daily recommended amount of this vitamin to regulate your body’s serotonin production.
Additionally, bananas are packed with fiber, low in calories, and have very little fat. They are also a rich source of Vitamin C and potassium, which boosts nerve and muscle health.
Fermented foods, which include kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut, may improve gut health and mood.
The fermentation process allows live bacteria to thrive in foods that are then able to convert sugars into alcohol and acids .
During this process, probiotics are created. These live microorganisms support the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut and may increase serotonin levels .
It’s important to note that not all fermented foods are significant sources of probiotics, such as in the case of beer, some breads, and wine, due to cooking and filtering.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects many facets of human behavior, such as mood, stress response, appetite, and sexual drive. Up to 90% of your body’s serotonin is produced by your gut microbiome, or the collection of healthy bacteria in your gut.
In addition, the gut microbiome plays a role in brain health. Research is beginning to show a connection between healthy gut bacteria and lower rates of depression.
Still, more research is needed to understand how probiotics may regulate mood.
I eat a whole one every day in my salad for lunch. Avocados are power foods because, again, they contain healthy fat that your brain needs in order to run smoothly. Three-fourths of the calories of an avocado are from fat, mostly monounsaturated fat, in the form of oleic acid. An average avocado also contains 4 grams of protein, higher than other fruits, and is filled with vitamin K, different kinds of vitamin B (B9, B6, and B5), vitamin C, and vitamin E12. Finally, they are low in sugar and high in dietary fiber, containing about 11 grams each.
Blueberries taste delicious, and it turns out these tiny berries are full of antioxidants, too. Antioxidants help protect your body from the free radicals that can damage your cells. They can also protect your cholesterol, lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease and even improve cognitive brain function.
Additionally, eating blueberries for depression may also have mood-boosting effects. Berries appear to have similar impacts as valproic acid, which is a mood-stabilizing medication that helps regulate emotions.
Blueberries contain the antioxidant flavonoid anthocyanin, which is associated with reduced inflammation and the risk of depression. Finally, they also contain vitamin C, which can be beneficial for reducing the negative impacts of stress.
Eating turkey provides you with tryptophan, an amino acid that your body uses to produce serotonin.
More research is needed to understand exactly how probiotics work and the different ailments they can treat. But what researchers have found is that probiotic-containing foods like yogurt and sauerkraut contain live bacteria that are helpful for balancing out your gut bacteria. That’s important when it comes to depression because these bacteria can produce chemicals that regulate your mood, such as serotonin and gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Protein and meat
Red meat does not cure depression, but the plentiful B vitamins in lean meat are essential for the health of the nervous system. Servings of lean meat provide a rich source of B12, a vital nutrient for good brain health. Meat also provides plenty of protein. Proteins provide the body with essential amino acids that are then used by the nervous system to build neurotransmitters. Healthy levels of neurotransmitters are absolutely vital for a good mood. Proteins also balance blood sugar levels.