Looking beyond enjoying a great meal, there is a (scientifically backed) relationship between what you eat and your mental health. Certain foods and nutrients have been shown to have the potential to improve your mental health – and can even be used as a supplement to therapy for depression And the worry If these are the conditions you are facing. Here are five foods to add to your diet.
A 2020 study in Clinical Nutrition found that eating a plant-based diet—particularly a healthy plant-based diet—was associated with a lower risk of depression, anxiety, and psychological distress in women. Choosing healthy plant-based foods was notable because the researchers found that those who were eating an unhealthy plant-based diet actually increased their risk of depression.
2. Seafood in cold water
Cold-water fish, like salmon, are key to mental health thanks to their omega-3 fats. Researchers have identified eating a high amount of omega-3-rich foods as one of the top five eating habits for preventing depression, according to a study in Nutritional Neuroscience. Other research suggests that one of the omega-3s in seafood, DHA, is linked to lower rates of depression and anxiety. Mix up How to Get Omega 3: Sardines, tuna, trout, oysters, and mussels are full of these healthy fats.
3. Whole grains
Like omega-3-rich seafood, whole grains have also been identified as beneficial for depression in a nutritional neuroscience study. In addition, another recently published study revealed that women who ate moderate amounts of whole grains were less likely to develop anxiety. The researchers also found that women who ate more refined grains (think: white rice, white bread, and even baked goods) were more likely to experience depression and anxiety. For a whole grain filling, eat oatmeal, whole wheat bread, corn tortillas, barley, and quinoa.
People who eat more berries (and more produce in general) are more likely to have better mental health than their counterparts who skip berries, according to a 2020 study in Nutrients. Researchers report that berry eaters generally have a better mood and fewer depressive symptoms. Their life satisfaction was higher, as was their optimism.
Cranberries deserve a special shout out: Just half a cup provides more than a daily dose of manganese, a lesser known mineral that can positively impact mental health. Other foods that are good sources of manganese include hazelnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, teff, and mussels.
5. Nuts, especially walnuts
A study in Nutrients says that people who regularly eat nuts of any kind are less likely to develop depression, compared to people who don’t eat nuts. And in the study, one type of nuts stood out from the rest: walnuts. Those who ate walnuts were less likely to be depressed than those who ate walnuts in general, as well as people who did not eat walnuts.
Another benefit of nuts is that they are a great source of trans fats, and research suggests that people who eat more trans fats (and less saturated fats) are less likely to develop anxiety.
The drawback of the science behind eating for mental health is that there is no single magic food or food item that can be used exclusively at home. But this is also an advantage: you don’t have to make very specific changes, or include one specific food in your daily diet. Instead, you can simply eat healthy food in general to improve your mental health.
EatingWell is a magazine and website dedicated to healthy eating as a lifestyle. Online at www.eatingwell.com.
(c) 2022 Meredith Corporation. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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