Dr Joel Fuhrman is the Director of Research for the United States Nutritional Research Foundation, he’s a New York Times no 1 bestselling author for his book Eat to Live and he knows a thing or two about the link between nutrients and depression. You can follow him on Twitter or linkedin.
We've taken 4 of his recommended foods plus 4 of our own recommendations grounded in recent studies.
Turkey has one of the highest sources of a chemical called tryptophan which is pre-cursor to 5-htp. If there is an availability of transporter molecules to help it cross the blood-brain barrier and, there is sufficient insulin in the blood to bond with other competing amino acids attempting to make the same journey it can be eventually converted into serotonin.
Walnuts are one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and numerous studies have demonstrated how omega-3 fatty acids support brain function and reduce depression symptoms.
Tomatoes contain folic acid & alpha-lipoic acid, both of which are good for fighting depression. According to research published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, there is an elevated incidence of folate deficiency in patients with depression. In most of the studies, about one-third of depression patients were deficient in folate.
Like Walnuts; Flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds are especially good for your mood because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Fuhrman writes, “Not only do seeds add their own spectrum of unique disease-fighting substances to the dietary landscape, but the fat in seeds increases the absorption of protective nutrients in vegetables eaten at the same meal.”
Avocados are high in oleic acid which has been shown in a 10 year follow-up study to reduce the risk of severe depressed moods in women . Avocados are also filled with vitamin K, E-12, Vitamin C different kinds of essential B vitamin’s (B-9, B-6, and B-5). A 2004 Danish study of 140 people found that those who were clinically depressed had low levels of vitamin B6 in their blood.
6. Green Tea
Green Tea’s ability to impact on depression can be traced to the high amounts of the naturally occurring amino acid, theanine. It’s believed that theanine provides a relaxation benefit and has the ability to help regulate cortisol which is released when we’re stressed.
7. Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy green vegetables are some of the most nutrient-dense food sources that are available and Spinach, Kale and Swiss chard top that list. They are all high vitamins A, C, E, and K and it’s their anti-inflammatory properties and neuroprotective ability that make them so vital to maintaining brain health.
Beans are good for maintaining an even keel simply because they’re a complex starch. We digest them slowly and this helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. Butter Beans, Yellow Split Peas and Red Lentils have some of the lowest GI around ranging from 32-21 GI and to put that into context; a bowl of Cornflakes has a GI rating of 80 and a French baguette 95 GI!
[1.] Wolfe AR et al Dietary linoleic and oleic fatty acids in relation to severe depressed mood: 10 years follow-up of a national cohort. Journal of Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 2009 Volume 33 972-977