Diet alone can’t relieve depression. But if you struggle with depression, what you eat or don’t eat affects your mood. Integrating good nutrition with a variety of healthy foods boosts your mental health. According to science, the ten foods listed in this article have a variety of benefits besides reducing depression. They are all full of minerals, vitamins, and phenols. Why not get started adding these ten depression-busting food to your diet today?

Ten Depression Busting Foods for Better Mental Health


1 – Vitamin D fortified foods

Foods with vitamin D improve depression, especially if you’re low in this vitamin. Vitamin D receptors are in your brain. When the receptors lack vitamin D, this impacts the amount of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a “feel good” hormone. Elevated dopamine also motivates you to get out and do something you enjoy.

Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, don’t use supplements without your doctor’s recommendation. Fat-soluble vitamins get stored in your liver and can cause damage. Instead, choose vitamin D-rich foods for your diet, such as:

  • Beef liver
  • Cod liver oil
  • Dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, cheeses
  • Orange juice fortified with vitamin D
  • Sardines
  • Salmon
  • Swordfish
  • Tuna

2 – Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Strong evidence shows that eating omega-3 fatty acid foods can improve mental health. Omega 3s fatty acids are typically found in fish oil and marine algae. Scientists believe that individuals who don’t eat enough fish may have higher rates of depression than those who eat fish. Studies are still in process to determine what ratios and doses work best to help minimize depression. Kids and adolescents who struggle with depression could benefit from omega-3 supplements. The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids include these:

  • Fatty fish, like mackerel or salmon, sardines, tuna
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Dark leafy greens like kale or spinach or collard greens
  • Canola oil
  • Soybean oil

3 – Eat foods high in polyphenols

Another depression-busting food to add to your diet is those foods that are high in polyphenols. These plant-based foods have antioxidant properties that protect you from chronic diseases due to free radical damage. An increasing amount of research suggests that eating polyphenols can improve your health, help regulate your metabolism, help you lose weight, and fight off disease. It’s thought that polyphenols can improve your depression by regenerating brain cells. The best food sources with polyphenols include the following:

  • Berries like chokeberries, elderberries, blueberries, blackberries, black currants, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries
  • Peppermint, clove, and anise
  • Cocoa powder
  • Vegetables like red onions, artichoke, spinach
  • Olives
  • Coffee, tea

4 – Protein-rich foods help your focus

High-protein foods have amino acids called tryptophan. These chemicals help your body produce serotonin. Serotonin improves your mood and improves your ability to concentrate. Food high in protein include:

  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Beef, chicken, fish
  • Milk
  • Soy products
  • Dairy products

5 – Eat healthy carbohydrates

Healthy carbohydrates boost the brain chemical serotonin. When you crave carbs, it could mean you’re low in serotonin. The key is to eat whole grain complex carbs rather than bleached out “white carbs” The best carbohydrates to eat include:

  • Bulghur
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Whole wheat bread, pasta, or crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Oatmeal

6 – Eat foods rich in selenium

Selenium can improve your mood. Researchers think it could be because it helps reduce inflammation. Someone who struggles with anxiety and depression often experiences inflammation. It’s also an antioxidant that repairs cell damage. There are no selenium supplements because selenium is a trace mineral. Your body doesn’t need too much of it. It’s found naturally in foods such as these:

  • Lean meats
  • Legumes and beans
  • Seafood: clams, oysters, crab, saltwater, and freshwater fish
  • Whole grains: whole wheat pasta or brown rice, or oatmeal
  • Nuts and seeds: Don’t overeat Brazil nuts. They can cause selenium toxicity.

7 – Eat foods high in antioxidants

It’s important to add foods high in antioxidants to your diet. You can’t stop free radicals, but eating foods high in antioxidants will help fight the damage by free radicals. Foods that are naturally high in antioxidants include:

  • Apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, peaches, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes
  • Spinach and collard greens
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Wheat germ
  • Vegetable oils like soy and canola
  • Broccoli, grapefruit, peppers, strawberries, and potatoes

8 – Try a Mediterranean diet to boost your B vitamins

Over the past few years, researchers have found that eating a Mediterranean diet is extremely healthy. For one thing, this diet is high in vitamin B and B12. Researchers aren’t sure why this diet helps fight depression, but it benefits people who struggle with mental health issues. Of course, nutrition is vital to staying physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy. Here are some foods you can add to your diet to help you fight anxiety and depression.

  • Beans
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables-especially dark green veggies
  • Lean meats
  • Fish
  • Dairy
  • Nuts

mental health

9 – Eat foods rich in folic acid

Tomatoes are known depression fighters. This could be because this delicious fruit (or vegetable, if you prefer)  is packed with folic acid and alpha-lipoic acid. Both chemicals help fight depression. Folic acid helps produce serotonin and dopamine, two natural chemicals that improve your mood and brain function. Besides a tomato, these foods are high in folic acid:

  • Seafood
  • Beef liver
  • Fruits and fruit juices
  • Beans
  • Peanuts
  • Dark leafy greens like spinach or romaine lettuce, or asparagus

10 – Eat avocados

Another superfood to add to your list of depression-busting foods is the humble avocado. This healthy fat helps your brain function. Avocados are high in B, C, and E12 vitamins. They’re low in sugar and naturally high in protein, four grams per avocado. So, if you’re looking for a healthy snack, look no farther than an avocado. Simple ways to eat avocado include

  • With scrambled eggs
  • In guacamole
  • In salads
  • In soups
  • Seasoned with salt and pepper and eaten in slices
  • On toast

Foods to Avoid to Beat Depression and Have Better Mental Health

The old saying “you are what you eat” is true in many ways. What you eat or don’t eat is closely linked to your mental health. When you eat certain foods, you will have improved health which will improve your moods and help you fight off depression and anxiety. Here are some foods you shouldn’t eat if you have mental health issues, depression, or anxiety.

Depression and junk food

It’s probably not a surprise that junk food is at the top of the list of what not to eat. High-fat and high-sugar junk foods aren’t good for anyone, but if you struggle with depression, it’s terrible. There’s a link between sugar and depression. Studies found that sugar consumption may cause higher depression. Sweet beverages and foods increase the chance of mood disorders and mental health issues. If trying to cut out sugar, don’t forget the foods with “hidden” sugars. These can cause you to have mood swings because of their high amount of sugar. Foods with hidden sugars include the following things:

  • Ketchup
  • “Lite” salad dressings
  • Speciality coffee drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Cereals
  • Granola bars
  • Low-fat yogurt

Alcohol causes depression

Alcohol may like it helps you relax, but it can have the opposite effect. If you are fighting depression, you want to avoid drinking alcohol. First, it causes depressive feelings. It slows down your brain activity. You feel foggy, brained, and moody. Alcohol also contains a lot of sugar. Sugar is a depressant. If you’re taking antidepressant medications, alcohol can make your meds less effective.

Other Tips to Help Ease Your Depression

  • Don’t skip meals: When you skip meals, your blood sugar plunges–making you feel moody and depressed. Keep a regular mealtime schedule.
  • Eat your meals with friends or families: When you struggle with depression, it’s essential to spend time with others. Eating meals with your family overcome feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  • Stock your pantry with healthy foods and snacks: Get rid of the chips and cookies. Stock your pantry with only healthy things like nuts, seeds, beans, nut butter, and whole grain snacks. Keep fresh fruits and veggies in your fridge.
  • Spices: Keep a wide assortment of spices to flavor your foods. Cinnamon in coffee or oregano in your veggies dishes are nutritious and help fight depression.
  • Stick to a regular schedule: Eat your meals at a set time every day. This prevents blood sugar from plunging and helps you create a routine. These simple practices help fight depressive episodes.

hiding depression

Final Thoughts on How Eating Depression Busting Foods Can Increase Your Mental Health

You know that simply eating right won’t take away your depression, but your diet dramatically impacts how you feel. If you’re eating the right foods, it positions you to overcome your mental health struggles. These ten depression-busting foods boost your nutrition. You will feel better in every way-physically, emotionally, and mentally. According to science, these ten food suggestions have benefits beyond reducing depression. They’re full of minerals and vitamins. Get started today by adding these healthy foods to your regular menu so you can feel your best and enjoy your life to its fullest.