15 Best Foods to Improve Your Mental Health and Wellness

There has been a significant shift in the public dialogue about mental health, perhaps more so than ever before. People are no longer keeping their struggles and wishes for change secret from their families and friends. Diet is one of the most simple strategies to ward against periods of depression. Isn’t it true that you are what you eat? These are the healthiest foods to eat for greater mental health and wellness, from walnuts and salmon to bananas and dark chocolate.

1. Banana

Although you won’t notice a difference in your mood right away after eating a banana for breakfast or an afternoon snack, this “mood food” helps the brain manufacture more serotonin (“feel-good” chemicals). Also, don’t let them go to waste, overripe bananas can be used in a variety of creative ways.

2. Berries

While blackberries and strawberries have a variety of medicinal characteristics that can help with a variety of brain functions, blueberries are the best when it comes to improving general health. According to a 2016 study, eating blueberries regularly can help reduce depression while also improving cognitive ability. They’re a true “mood food,” and they’re said to make you feel happier and energized within two hours of eating them.

3. Walnuts

Grab a handful of crunchy walnuts for a quick pick-me-up if you’re feeling down. According to research, eating more walnuts, especially young males, is the key to a happy frame of mind. They’re the best nut for brain health because they’re abundant in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Bonus: adding nuts to smoothies, cereal, salads, stir-fries, or trail mix is a simple way to get them into your daily diet.

4. Whole Grains

What person doesn’t love a “good carb”? Whole grains, which are strong in tryptophan (an amino acid that causes the body to manufacture high levels of the “feel-good hormone” serotonin), can help relieve depression and anxiety by relaxing the brain and enhancing your mood. Whole grains can also help you keep a consistent sleep cycle, resulting in less restless sleep and a better emotional state, thanks to their high melatonin production. Try these whole-grain breakfasts to keep you full until lunchtime for some meal prep ideas.

5. Yogurt

Lactobacillus, a probiotic bacteria found in yogurt, has been shown to improve mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Neurotransmitters can freely travel from one area to the other thanks to the gut-brain axis, a network that connects the two. This allows them to directly alter your feelings and emotions. The word “gut-wrenching” was created for a reason. Depression, stress, anxiety, and anger can all cause your gut to react. So, while you’re eating your favorite yogurt with berries and granola, your brain gets informed that something delicious has entered your stomach.

6. Salmon, or Other Fatty Fish

Fish is a healthy lunch option in general, but salmon is unquestionably the finest of the best. Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which have been associated with lower levels of depression, are abundant in this adaptable “fatty” fish. If you don’t have any salmon on hand for your next supper, don’t worry. Instead, choose a meal that incorporates tuna or herring for an equally large boost of omega-3s.

7. Green Tea 

Green, as it appears in nature, is said to have a calming impact on the human mind. Green tea, with its high levels of L-theanine – an amino acid found naturally in tea leaves – it’s more beneficial to drink when you’re feeling down. This amino acid has a substantial mood-boosting effect, specifically via elevating dopamine levels in the brain (which modulates emotional reactions) — so go brewing!

8. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens, particularly spinach and kale, have significant levels of folic acid, which has been linked to a reduction in depression in studies. And, given how crucial regular sleep is for mental health, it also aids in the prevention of insomnia. So, follow Popeye’s lead and eat more greens! These hearty salads will enhance your winter meals with some fresh inspiration.

9. Dark Chocolate

Those with a sweet tooth will rejoice to learn that dark chocolate is safe to consume when it comes to improving mental health and wellness. This chocolate is on the list because it has a lot of cocoa, which you won’t find in white or milk chocolate. Consider going incredibly dark, with an opacity of 85% or greater being the most useful. Dark chocolate can improve your mood and attention levels due to its high levels of antioxidant flavanol.

10. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes, maybe one of the lesser-known foods on the list, are high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that protects brain cells from harm, which could have a direct impact on mental health and wellness. These delectable sweet potato dishes may inspire you to get creative in the kitchen next time you’re preparing a meal.

11. Chicken

Chicken, like turkey, is a tasty lean protein option that contains the amino acid tryptophan. Though it’s commonly linked with post-Thanksgiving naps, this drug doesn’t truly knock you asleep as urban legends claim. Instead, it aids in the production of serotonin, which is essential in helping your brain manage mood, battle depression, and retain good memory.

12. Avocados

Avocados are high in vitamin K and folate, both of which protect the brain from stroke. They also help you remember things and concentrate better. Avocados are also high in lutein, which has been linked to better brain function in studies.

13. Nuts

Nuts, like salmon, are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can aid with depression. Cashews, for example, have enough magnesium to assist supply oxygen to the brain. Almonds contain phenylalanine, a chemical that has been found to aid in the production of dopamine and other mood-enhancing neurotransmitters in the brain. Phenylalanine has also been associated with a decrease in Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

14. Olive Oil

Pure, extra virgin olive oil has been popular as part of healthful Mediterranean-style diets. Polyphenols in this type of oil aid in the removal of the effects of proteins connected to Alzheimer’s disease. It can also aid with memory and learning. When shopping for olive oil, though, be cautious. Many brands use a lot of vegetable or seed oils in their products, which reduces brain health advantages dramatically. Search the internet for brands that have been tested to verify that they contain only pure olive oil.

15. Tomatoes

Lycopene, the red pigment in tomatoes, is considered an all-around beneficial phytonutrient. One of the many health benefits it offers is the prevention of brain damage. It has been proved to fight off cell damage and postpone the start and progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. Lycopene has also been found to aid memory, concentration, logic, and reasoning.

Consider including one or more of them on your grocery list the next time you go shopping. You’ll be able to supply an excellent source of nutrients for your brain in addition to overall health benefits.

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