The Department of Food Science Research at the University of Otago in New Zealand has linked our consumption of raw fruits and vegetables to our mental health.
A total of 281 young adults completed an internet-based daily food diary for 21 consecutive days.
Researchers concluded participates consuming a higher intake of raw produce (5 times per day) had fewer symptoms of mental illness or depression, and improved levels of well being or satisfaction with life.
After eating canned or processed produce, the mental health benefits were significantly reduced.
Foods Associated With Better Mood
Researchers particularly mentioned
These foods displayed significant benefits towards your mental health, as opposed to their canned or processed counterparts.
Other foods associated with better mood were lettuce, citrus fruits, berries, cucumber, and kiwi.
Researchers believe the higher nutrient quality and quantity in raw foods, such as vitamin C and B are the reason for the results.
One important exception is tomatoes.
Tomatoes release their nutrients more effectively when cooked.
Read more about the health benefits of tomatoes HERE
Food to Prevent Depression
Another study was conducted by Nutritional Neuroscience. In April 2017, they published a set of practical dietary recommendations for the prevention of depression.
- follow ‘traditional’ dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean, Norwegian, or Japanese diet
- increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrain cereals, nuts, and seeds
- include a high consumption of foods rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
- replace unhealthy foods with wholesome nutritious foods
- limit your intake of processed-foods, ‘fast’ foods, commercial bakery goods, and sweets
Along with a consultation with your doctor, certain foods may help manage depression by providing a variety of important nutrients.
Of course, these are the basic guidelines for maintaining a healthy weight, as well.
“Eating several servings of fruits and veggies daily, along with whole grains, lean meats, and occasional treats is the best way to support good mental and physical health throughout life,” says Felice Jacka, PhD, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR) and the Australian Alliance for the Prevention of Mental Disorders.
Dr. Jacka recommends the following foods for better mental health…
NUTS. Try to get about 1 ounce a day of mixed nuts, including walnuts and almonds.
GRASS FED BEEF is a healthy protein to include for balancing depression and diet.
FISH. Try eating a 3-ounce serving of fish two or three times a week.
WHOLE GRAINS. Registered Dietician Nolan Cohn, RD, CDN, says, “Blood sugar-stabilizing foods can affect mood by helping to regulate brain neurotransmitter secretions.”
VEGETABLES. Filled with a variety of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, vegetables can help protect you against low mood and depression.
FERMENTED FOODS. Recent research suggests fermented foods are good for your gut by maintaining healthy intestinal microbiota.
BEANS AND PEAS. Legumes and other high-fiber foods support gut health by providing prebiotics, which feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut.
DARK CHOCOLATE. Chocolate contains a type of antioxidant called polyphenols, which are thought to boost mood.
What are your “go to” foods to boost your mood? Let me know in the comments!