There’s no magic cure to stop depression. It takes a lot of work. Having a solid treatment plan is the best way to combat it. But there are other things you can do on your own to help your mood and keep depression at bay… that includes what you eat. We all know we should be eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains while cutting down on processed food. But sometimes that feels like an unrealistic goal. Instead, just try to incorporate a few of these 7 foods that will improve your mood and fight depression.
1. Carbohydrates and Whole Grains
When looking for foods to help fight depression definitely consider whole grains. These high-fiber “smart carbs” are great for a quick mood boost. Complex carbohydrates release seratonin, making you feel happier. Try to avoid simple carbs and sugary foods. Instead turn to whole grains, brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat pasta. They can really help with stress.
2. Low-Fat Dairy
Dairy is great for your body for a variety of reasons, but low-fat dairy is the richest source of two important nutrients: calcium and vitamin D. In addition, dairy has specific proteins called peptides that help relax you and give you a sense well-being. Try skim milk, yogurt and low-fat cheeses.
You may associate tryptophan with feeling tired after eating a Thanksgiving meal, but it turns out the chemical in turkey also has big health benefits. Tryptophan stimulates seratonin production, giving you a natural happy feeling. Keep in mind most lean proteins are good for fighting depression, but turkey is the best option thanks to tryptophan. You might just want to take a nap after eating it!
4. Fatty Fish Like Salmon and Tuna
If you guessed omega-3 fatty acids for the reason why salmon and tuna are on the list, than you’re right. The fatty acids found in the fish have brain-boosting properties to help fight depression, according to research published in January 2014 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
. Fatty fish is also good for overall health, they improve circulation and reduce inflammation in the body. It’s not just salmon and tuna that have these properties. Also try mackerel or bluefish! A serving a few times a week could do great things for your mental health!
5. Green Tea
Green tea is a great source of antioxidants, but it’s also a great beverage for fighting depression. The amino acid known as theanine is naturally found in tea leaves and provides a natural anti-stress benefit. So if you’re a coffee drinker (like I am) try switching to cup of green tea every once in awhile to absorb some of its relaxing benefits.
If you’re not a fish fan, or want another way to get those omega-3s, try walnuts. While most nuts are a great source of protein and healthy fats, walnuts are the best for fighting depression because they are one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
7. Dark Chocolate
Can’t forget about desert! While most people would say they feel happier after eating chocolate, it turns out that chemically that might actually be true. Dark chocolate helps release seratonin and relaxes the blood vessels of the cardiovascular system. So in addition to tasting amazing, also know it really can make you feel better! It’s a good excuse for the next time you indulge.
There are a lot of great foods to help improve your mood or fight depression, but if you’re really struggling, just don’t leave it up to your diet. Talk to your doctor and counselor about the best treatment plan for your condition, but that does generally include making sure you’re taking care of your body. So try these foods they could make a big difference!