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List of Best Foods for Fighting Depression

Want to know the best foods for fighting depression? This list of foods for depression on HealthyPlace is exactly what you need.

There are specific foods that fight depression. If you’re looking for a list of the best foods for fighting depression, we’ve got it.

How Foods Help Fight Depression

The link between diet and depression is strong. Depression and nutrition go together like peanut butter and honey on whole grain bread. Nutrition is so vital for the brain that diet has become a key component of a plan to manage and overcome depression. There are a lot of foods that fight depression by either preventing it in the first place or improving and managing the symptoms of depression once it sets in.

The problem is that there are obstacles to healthy eating when you have depression. Depression makes decision-making and concentrating difficult, which interferes in meal planning and preparation. It’s easy to fall into a rut of eating the same thing, which limits the range of nutrients you give your brain and body. When living with depression, people often skip meals or reach for processed, packaged foods (foods that cause depression or contribute to it) because it seems like the easiest option.

To help you recover the mental health that you want, we’ve made this list of foods for fighting depression. It is broken down by nutrients that have been scientifically proven to help the brain recover from depression, and specific foods are listed in each category.

Best Foods for Fighting Depression

Nutrients That Nourish the Brain, Counter Depression

The brain needs many different nutrients to function properly. In order to avoid or overcome depression, it needs these specific nutrients:

  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Good fats (Omega-3 fatty acid)
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

Foods That Fight Depression: Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates (as opposed to the simple carbs such as refined flour and sugar) provide fuel and energy. Carbs boost mood, too. Examples of good carbohydrates for depression are

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes

Avoid refined foods like white flour, simple sugars, and foods like breads and pastas made from such ingredients. Processed carbohydrates lack nutrients, plus they are burned too quickly by the body so that we have an energy spike followed by a crash. The brain operates by the principle “slow and steady wins the race.” Try using natural and healthy foods for depression and you should notice a difference in your mood.

Foods for Fighting Depression: Protein

Protein is essential for a depression-free brain. Proteins (amino acids) are what create neurotransmitters like serotonin; too little serotonin in the brain is linked to depression. To boost serotonin as well as energy levels, consume healthy proteins daily. Good sources of protein include:

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Lean meats
  • fish
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Soy products

Foods That Fight Depression: Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Good fats are among the best foods for depression because the brain needs them to function properly. Getting enough good fats goes a long way in managing depression symptoms, too.

Getting the right kind of fat in your diet is important. Saturated fats and trans fats are unhealthy types of fat. Fats considered “good” are the Omega-3 Fatty Acids. You can find omega-3s in foods such as

  • Fish (especially fatty fish like salmon, herring, anchovies, and sardines, for example)
  • Nuts
  • Avocado
  • Olive oil

Foods For Fighting Depression: Vitamins

All vitamins are important for healthy brain and body functioning, of course, but certain vitamins in particular are good for depression. The B vitamins, antioxidants, and vitamin D are known to help the brain and fight depression.  The following foods are great sources of these depression-helping nutrients.

B vitamins:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lean meat
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Dairy products
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables
  • Asparagus
  • Squash
  • beans
  • Potatoes
  • Avocados
  • Dates
  • Peaches
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Oranges
  • Pineapples

Antioxidants—beta-carotene:

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Collard greens
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potato
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe

Antioxidants—vitamin C:

  • Broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Tomato
  • Grapefruit
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries

Antioxidants—vitamin E:

  • Wheat germ
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Vegetable oils
  • Margarine

Vitamin D:

  • Fish
  • Tofu
  • Milk

Foods for Fighting Depression: Minerals

Minerals are elements needed by the brain and body. Deficiencies in the minerals magnesium, calcium, selenium, and sodium can lead to depression. These minerals are important in the functioning of serotonin and help increase energy and improve mood. Food sources are varied.

Magnesium:

  • Whole grains
  • Dairy
  • Fish and other seafood
  • Lean meats
  • Nuts (especially almonds)
  • Seeds (especially pumpkin)
  • Legumes
  • Lima beans
  • Avocados
  • Spinach
  • Bananas
  • Wheat germ

Calcium

  • Dairy
  • Seafood
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Spinach

Selenium

  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Seafood
  • Lean meats

Sodium

  • Found in nearly every food
  • Little need to add salt to foods

These foods are all readily available. Having a selection of brain-healthy foods from the foods for fighting depression lists and eating them throughout the day, every day, can help you fight depression and feel good physically and mentally.

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2018, May 16). List of Best Foods for Fighting Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, May 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/depression/food-and-depression/list-of-best-foods-for-fighting-depression

Last Updated: 2019, May 19

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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