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Discover ways to transform your diet in small ways to help alleviate depression.

Depression and Diet?

Thus far, no well-rounded diet has been developed to treat depression in any official capacity. However, there is a great deal of research that looks at the levels of certain vitamins and compounds in depressed individuals that may be lacking. These naturally occurring compounds are readily found in many different food sources. Adding foods that are higher in these particular compounds can increase the levels within your body [1]. These natural antidepressants are a safe and healthy way to help remedy depression and has been proven to reduce depressive symptoms in many individuals.

Depression, Folate, and Omega-3

Depression research has narrowed down some of these substances that are lacking in the bodies of depressed patients. There are a few standout compounds that have shown to be effective in the treatment of depression without the addition of psychopharmacological drugs (antidepressants). Omega-3 fatty acids, tryptophan, folate and other B Vitamin compounds have all been found to play roles in the positive adjustment of depression [2]. There is strong evidence for a correlation between the lack of these substances available in the body and the presence of depression. In particular, there is a great deal of research evidence about the role that folate and omega-3 fatty acids play in depressed patients.

The foods below that work as natural antidepressants represent those highest in these substances can offer some of the best natural antidepressants and have been found to help decrease depression in patients. Bear in mind that any steps you take in treating depression often work best with a combination of different approaches and that speaking to a doctor first is always a smart step. On that note, let’s look at what you may be able to add to any kind of diet to boost your mood!

1. Mackerel

Fish, in general, carry high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), which are necessary for healthy brain functioning. Omega-3 fatty acids fall into the PUFA category [3]. Different species of fish will carry different levels of Omega-3, but many kinds of fish are a great source for this essential fatty acid (EFA). Mackerel, in particular, is especially loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids. Herring, salmon, and anchovies all carry high levels of this EFA as well [4]. In fact, seafood, in general, is a safe bet to boost the amount of Omega-3 in your body. There’s a reason fish is often referred to as “brain food.”

2. Spinach

Spinach, while also containing some fatty acids, is especially high in folate content. Lower than average folate levels have been linked to an increased likelihood of experiencing depressed episodes as well as suffering from recurrent episodes over time [5]. Folate is present in many foods — especially darker, leafy vegetables. Spinach, in particular, has very high levels of folate with over half the recommended daily intake in just one cup of cooked spinach [6].

Cooked spinach isn’t for everyone and raw spinach delivers a folate boost as well. Adding raw spinach to salads or sandwiches can be an easy way to work this vegetable into your diet!

3. Asparagus

Sometimes you can find foods that offer higher levels of both folate and Omega-3. Asparagus is one such food that can be a great side dish and is not only healthy, but can help increase levels of both of these vital substances [6]. There are lots of ways to season asparagus and incorporate this vegetable into many different dishes. Next time you’re looking for a new side dish for your favorite meal, add some asparagus spears or try cutting it up into smaller bite-sized pieces to add in with other vegetables or a salad.

4. Walnuts

Walnuts are another type of food that allows you to get a hit of both your omega-3 fatty acids as well as folate. Walnuts are very high in polyunsaturated fatty acids with a kick of folate as well [7]. Walnuts are one of the most versatile foods listed here as they can be used in many different ways: additions to desserts, baked goods, savory foods, and alone as a snack. Walnuts are tasty and healthier than a lot of regular go-to snack foods--and the potential for a natural “brain boost” with all the PUFA content doesn’t hurt either!

Shape Your Diet to Change Your Mood!

If you’re looking for a way to help combat depression without taking pharmaceutical drugs, making small diet changes may be the right course of action for you. The foods that work as natural antidepressants listed here are some of the highest in folate and/or Omega-3 fatty acid content but these substances are present in lots of different foods so remember to check your labels and know what is in your food!

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