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Your lifestyle, your quirk
The foods you eat don’t just affect your waistline, they can affect your mood. Much like a car needs the right grade of gasoline to run at peak performance, your brain needs the right nutrients to perform all of the functions to keep your mood in check. Researchers in Spain recently found that people who consume junk and fast foods on a regular basis are 37% more likely to develop depression than those who avoid unhealthy food choices, and the odds of depression increased with the amount of junk food eaten. The study followed 8,900 people with no history of mental illness. Avoiding fast food seems to be a great way to prevent depression and a slew of other health problems, but you can do your brain and body even more good by checking out this list. These happy foods are packed with nutrients that will help to boost your mood and prevent depression.
Omega-3 fatty acids have many benefits, including promoting heart health and reducing inflammation, but its effect on the brain is one of the top reasons doctors suggest that we make sure our daily requirement is met. Omega-3s are necessary for the brain and neurotransmitters to function properly, and they may help some people with depression. Walnuts and fatty fish contain the essential fatty acid, so make walnuts a go-to snack for busting your blues. If you consume beef, try to buy meat labeled as “grass-fed” instead of “grain-fed,” since cows who feed on grass tend to produce meat that is higher in omega-3s.
Olive oil, green tea, and dark chocolate have polyphenols (on top of many other health benefits.) Polyphenols can help to maintain positive moods, stop anxiety, and prevent some brain disorders. Cherries and other dark berries also have these antioxidants, and they are about to be in-season.
Low consumption of folate may lead to an increased risk of depression, so it’s important to get enough of this vitamin. Luckily, one cup of lentils contains 90% of your daily folate needs. Spinach also contains folate as well as magnesium, a mood-boosting mineral. Liver, citrus fruits, and any dark, leafy vegetables contain folate.
Zinc plays a big role in brain function as well as neurotransmitter and hormone production, making it a crucial mineral to mood and brain health. Oysters have the highest amount of zinc of any food source, plus they can act as an aphrodisiac (which may lead to some mood improvement, too.) Pumpkin and squash seeds contain zinc and tryptophan, which can quash anxiety. It’s the same stuff as in turkey; just think of how relaxed you felt last Thanksgiving.
All of these foods pack many vitamins and nutrients in addition to the brain boosters. Give your brain and the rest of your body the fuel it needs to balance itself so you can be at your most positive. While these foods are no substitute for professional care, nor are they a cure for depression, they will help your brain perform at its best.