Did you know there are “brain-healthy” foods to promote a healthy mind and a positive mood? Food is important, not just for our physical health but also for your mind. Growing research supports the theory that what we eat every day can improve our mood and help with treating depression and anxiety.
Nutritional psychiatry is a new but growing field that uses dietary modifications and nutrient-based supplements in the treatment and prevention of mental health disorders. New evidence suggests a deeper connection between diet and mental health.
Top 10 “Brain-Healthy” Foods to Help Promote a Positive Mood
Leafy Greens & Broccoli – these vibrant green foods contain folate, calcium, magnesium and vitamin K. Folate has been used as a supplement to improve depressions. Leafy greens can be eaten or drank in a tasty smoothie.
Berries – blueberries in particular have been found to protect the brain. A recent study found a link resulting in a reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease when blueberries were eaten twice a week.
Pumpkin Seeds – these small seeds are packed with magnesium, an essential mineral to protect from depression and anxiety, as well as zinc, plant-based omega-3’s and tryptophan, which helps promote sleep.
Lentils, Chickpeas & Beans – legumes contain high levels of folate and zinc, both of which have been effective supplements for depression. Beans are also a good source of protein and keep your blood sugar levels stable promoting better emotional balance.
Almonds, Hazelnuts and Walnuts – these nuts are all good sources of vitamin E and one study found that eating 30 grams of nuts daily significantly reduces depression.
Fish & Fish Oil – studies have found that high fish consumption reduced depression. Fish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acid, a well-studied and effective treatment for depression. If you are using an omega-3 supplement, most studies recommend 1 to 3 grams daily for mood and there should be more EPA than the DHA listed on the label.
Mussels & Oysters – oysters and shellfish contain high levels of vitamin B12, which is important for neurotransmitters in the brain. B12 is also found in meat, dairy and eggs.
Dark Chocolate & Raw Cacao Powder – contain a type of antioxidant that has been found to promote a sense of calm and contentedness.
Fermented Foods & Probiotics – researchers are discovering the important link between the bacteria in the gut and your mood. Fermented foods contain probiotics that can reduce depression and anxiety. Probiotic supplements have also been shown to reduce negative thoughts during sad moods.
Turmeric – the active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound found to improve the effectiveness of antidepressants in reducing depression. You can drink it in tea or add it to dishes like chilli or pasta sauce.
As you approach the winter months, give yourself a little extra boost to your mental health by including some of these brain-health foods in your diet.
by: Mary Joan Brinson MSW, RSW
And if you find the winter months are taking a toll on your mental health, give us a call – we are here with strategies designed to get you on the path to feeling better.
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