Mental health is fundamental for our well-being, and there is growing evidence from science of the close relationship between healthy eating and mental health.
Good nutrition has a positive impact on our mood, emotions, and thinking abilities.
However, did you know that certain foods are more helpful than others for our mental health?
By knowing which foods to favor, you can make better choices to take care of your mind and body at the same time. Isn’t it exciting to know that you have the ability to power your brain through the foods you eat?
Foods that promote mental health
Several studies have shown that some foods can have a positive impact on mental health. Some of these foods include those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and B vitamins.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as boosting your thinking abilities.
You can find omega-3 fatty acids in:
- Fatty fish: salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, and herring for example.
- Flaxseeds, chia seeds: these small seeds can be ground and added to smoothies, oatmeal, or used in baking.
- Walnuts: can be eaten as a snack or added to salads, oatmeal, or baked goods.
- Hemp Seeds: can be sprinkled on top of salads, yogurt, or blended into smoothies.
- Soybeans: and soy products, such as tofu and edamame
Antioxidants protect the brain from oxidative stress and cell damage.
You can find antioxidants in:
- Berries: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries…
- Colorful vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and bell peppers.
- Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
- Dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa
- Green tea
- Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants, especially the antioxidant called lycopene.
- Citrus fruits: oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits are rich in antioxidants like vitamin C.
B vitamins are involved in the production of mood-related neurotransmitters such as serotonin. By including these foods in your diet, you can nourish your brain and promote optimal mental health.
You can find B vitamins in:
- Whole wheat bread, brown rice, oats, and quinoa
- Leafy greens: spinach, kale, broccoli for example.
- Legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas...
- Lean meats like chicken, turkey, and beef
- Eggs are a great source of B vitamins, especially B12.
- Dairy products: milk, cheese, and yogurt.
- Almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and flaxseeds.
- Certain fish like salmon, trout, and tuna are good sources of B vitamins, especially B12.
The impact of poor nutrition on mental health:
Just as a healthy diet can benefit our mental health, a poor diet can have very bad effects on our emotional and mental state. Foods high in unhealthy fats, sugars, and processed foods can upset the balance of chemicals in our brain and lead to mental disorders like depression and anxiety.
- Unhealthy fats found in fast food and full-fat dairy products can cause inflammation in the body, including the brain. This inflammation is linked to a higher risk of depression and lower emotional well-being.
- Eating too much refined sugar can cause quick changes in blood sugar levels, affecting mood and energy levels.
- Processed foods often lack important nutrients for the brain, leading to reduced cognitive abilities and an overall poorer mental health.