Top 10 Foods for Mental Health

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Author Name: Beth Rush
Date: Wednesday July 15, 2020

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Science confirms it, your brain health changes depending on the food you consume. Your diet makes a difference in your mental health, and if you are dealing with depression or anxiety, there are a few food items you can add to your diet that may alleviate symptoms. Eating better food may lead to a better mood and improved physical and mental well-being. Here are the top 10 foods for mental health.

1. Blueberries

Blueberries are not only delicious, they are a fantastic source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are proven to improve mental health. Antioxidants play a role in improving neuron health, as they help combat oxidative stress. Some of the phytonutrients in blueberries, called flavonoids, appear to reduce neuroinflammation, which is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer disease. 

2. Green Tea

Not only is green tea an excellent alternative to a cup of coffee, it is also great for your mental health. Green tea contains phytochemicals called polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant associated with cancer prevention and brain health. Studies have also found that polyphenols increase the availability of dopamine, a hormone and neurotransmitter that is essential for a healthy emotional state. 

The amino acids in green tea are also worth noting. Particularly the amino acid L-theanine, which is considered to improve memory and cognition when consumed with caffeine. This makes green tea a great source of energy for individuals who tend to experience anxiety when they consume caffeinated beverages. 

3. Salmon

The modern Western diet is high in omega-6 fatty acids, and low in omega-3’s. Omega-3’s are associated with a long list of health benefits, including brain function. Salmon and other healthy fish are great sources of Omega 3-s. One study found that adding fish to your diet can reduce your risk of depression, though recommended daily amounts can vary. Salmon is also a wonderful source of Vitamin D, a nutrient that is not often bioavailable in food. Vitamin D is associated with improved cognitive function, including learning and memory capabilities.

4. Bone Broth

Bone broth is most often associated with immune support, with individuals opting to drink it during the colder months as a flu and cold preventative. However, bone broth is also great for cognitive function. It is full of trace minerals like magnesium and potassium, and also contains an amino acid called glutamine, which is essential in a healthy digestive system. Since a healthy mind and healthy gut appear to be linked, bone broth is a wonderful way to support your immune system and your mind. 

5. Avocados

Healthy fats, like those found in avocados, are essential for healthy brain function. For years, consumers were warned of the dangers of fat. Now we are learning that certain types of fat are good for us, and a vital piece of a healthy diet. One study found that traditional fat sources, like olive oil and animal fats, helped decrease the risk of depression in French women. 

6. Kale

We all know kale is a superfood, but did you know it can also keep your brain young? Research shows that individuals who regularly consume leafy greens have a brain profile that is eleven years younger than those of their non-green consuming peers. 

7. Flax Seeds

While we know that salmon and other small fish are a great source of omega-3s, individuals who do not consume fish will need to find alternative sources. Flax seeds are anti-inflammatory, high in omega-3s, and are shown to decrease cortisol levels in people who consume them regularly.

8. Walnuts

Most nuts, in general, are very good for you. They are great sources of healthy fats, proteins and can help with cardiovascular health. However, walnuts in particular appear to be great for a better mood. Researchers believe this may be due to the high levels of folate, polyphenols and alpha-linolenic acid in walnuts.

9. Coconut Milk

If you are a big fan of curry, this is good news. Coconut milk is shown to be a great source of prevention when it comes to anxiety. One study found that antioxidants in coconut milk may affect GABA neurotransmitter binding, which is a key part of triggering anxiety.

10. Dark Chocolate

If you are trying to eat better for your mental health, this might be the best news of all. Dark chocolate, made with real cacao, is rich in flavonoids. Because dark chocolate contains naturally occurring caffeine, it may improve brain function by increasing blood flow to the brain.  

Nourishing Your Mind 

Incorporating healthier foods into your diet doesn’t just help you feel better physically, it can also transform your mental health. Incorporating nutritious leafy greens, healthy fats and antioxidants can improve cognitive function and reduce disorders such as depression. So eat a bit of dark chocolate or some blueberries and give your brain a boost of health. These top 10 foods for mental health will help you live a happier life.

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