Foods That May Alleviate Depression
- Several B vitamins, including folate, B1 (thiamin), B6, and B12, are essential to emotional wellness. The best sources of these vitamins are animal-based foods, including meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. These vitamins are also found in a wide range of beans, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach or kale. Vegetarians have a tough time getting enough vitamin B12 but can get enough from brewer’s yeast, soy milk, veggie burgers, and fortified breakfast cereals.
- People who lack vitamin C in their diet are more likely to experience fatigue and depression. Vitamin C is found in blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, pepper, potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes. Even among people who aren’t known to be deficient, vitamin C supplements have demonstrated mood-elevating benefits in some studies.
- Individuals with higher carotenoid levels in their bloodstream (a good indicator of fruit and vegetable intake) had a 28% lower risk of becoming depressed over six years in one study that included 2,000 people across the United States. The relationship appeared to be dose-dependent (the more carotenoids, the merrier). Beta-carotene is found in apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, peaches, pumpkin, spinach, and sweet potato.
- A link between selenium deficiency and mood disorders has been reported in several studies. Selenium is found in legumes, lean meat, low-fat dairy products, nuts and seeds (especially Brazil nuts), seafood, and whole grains. Too much selenium can be toxic, though, so it’s best not to overdo selenium-rich foods and to generally avoid selenium supplements.
- Sometimes iron deficiency can present with fatigue, brain fog, insomnia, anxiety, depression, irritability, and restlessness. Iron is found in some seafood, including oysters, clams, mussels, halibut, haddock, perch, salmon, and tuna. Some breakfast cereals, including raisin bran, shredded wheat, cream of wheat, and CoCo Wheaties, will boost your iron intake. Cooked beans, tofu, dried apricots, wheat germ, and pumpkin or sesame seeds are other iron-rich foods.
- Magnesium is vital for stress response, recovery, and repair. It has also been found to be helpful for folks with fibromyalgia and major depression. You can find the most magnesium in pumpkin seeds, almonds, spinach, cashews, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, shredded wheat, soymilk, black beans, and edamame.
- Potassium affects the nerves in the brain, and a severe deficiency can cause some psychiatric issues, including depression, psychosis, or hallucinations. Among fruits, potassium is highest in bananas, oranges, cantaloupes, honeydew melon, apricots, and dried fruits, including prunes, raisins, and dates. Vegetables highest in potassium include avocado, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, peas, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, leafy greens, and pumpkins. You’ll also find potassium in tuna, halibut, cod, lima beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, and lentils. Yogurt and nuts are other good sources.
- A phytonutrient found in apples, berries, grapes, kale, onions, and green tea may improve mood. Tomato products cut the odds of developing depression in half in one study of nearly 1,000 older men and women.
The Don’t Shop List
When researchers followed 43,000 women without depression for twelve years, those who ate a more inflammatory diet, including more soda, refined grains, and meat, were more likely to develop depression during the research period. A dietary pattern characterized by high consumption of red and processed meat, refined grains, sweets, high-fat dairy products, butter, potatoes, high-fat gravy, and few fruits and vegetables is associated with an increased risk of depression.
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