5 foods you can eat to boost mental health

Keeping your freezer stocked can prolong the time between your grocery trips.

Exercise and enjoying your favorite activity are some ways you can reduce stress, but improving your mental health can also be related to what you consume.

“Studies have shown a reduction in depression of 40 to 60% when people are eating the right foods, which is a better outcome than most drugs,” Dr. Barish-Wreden, who specializes in holistic/integrative medicine in Sacramento, California told Sutter Health.

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When times are stressful, it may be easy to reach for sweet and salty processed treats. Here are five foods you can eat instead to give your mental health a boost.

Blueberries

In addition to blueberries being shown in studies to improve memory in older adults, scientists have discovered that the fruit’s antioxidants — flavonoids, in particular — promote the effects of improved brain activity along with brain flow, according to Louisiana-based nonprofit academic health center, Ochsner Health. It has also been shown to be beneficial in improving mental health.

Carrots

This root vegetable may have a reputation for improving eyesight, but it can have mental health benefits, too. A study from the University of Otago found carrots were among the top 10 raw foods linked to improved mental health.

“Our research has highlighted the consumption of fruit and veg in their ‘unmodified’ state is more strongly associated with better mental health,” lead researcher Dr. Tamlin Conner said in a press release.

Dark chocolate

Researchers at University College London found that consumption of dark chocolate can aid in lessening anxiety and improved clinical depression symptoms.

“Dark chocolate has many health benefits and can definitely be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet,” Johns Hopkins nutritionist and registered dietitian Diane Vizthum told Johns Hopkins Medicine. “There are many healthy ways to incorporate chocolate into your lifestyle, so find what works for you.”

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Walnuts

A 2019 study found that eating walnuts could be linked to a decreased prevalence of depression.

Researchers at UCLA found that those who ate walnuts had 26% lower depression scores compared to those who didn’t eat any nuts at all. Additionally, walnut eaters reported feeling more energetic, fewer feelings of hopelessness and had more interest in doing things.

Kimchi

If social anxiety is getting you down, snacking on kimchi could help.

A study published in Science Direct in 2015 found young adults reaped the benefits.

“The main finding was that individuals who had consumed more fermented foods had reduced social anxiety. And the secondary finding was that more exercise was related to reduced social anxiety, as well,” researchers said.

Eating naturally fermented foods offer the highest concentration of probiotics, according to Lifehack. The study noted probiotics may have a protective effect on social anxiety.

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