Foods to fight depressionA symphony of factors, including genetics, hormones, illness, and stress, can trigger depression. Now, scientists say your daily diet may also influence your risk for this mental illness. A growing number of studies—including the first randomized controlled trial on this subject—
suggest that food choices “may play a role in the treatment and prevention of brain-based disorders, particularly depression,” according to a new report published in the World Journal of Psychology.The new report includes a review of 34 essential nutrients, 12 of which were identified as relating to the prevention and treatment of depressive disorders:
folate, iron, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, selenium, thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and zinc. But rather than focus on single foods or nutrients as a panacea against depression, researchers are looking at the big picture, explains Felice Jacka, PhD, an Australian food-and-mood researcher and president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research.
“We eat diets that comprise countless compounds that interact in highly complex ways,” says Jacka, who published the first dietary recommendations for the prevention of depression last year in the journalNutritional Neuroscience. (Her work is heavily cited in the new report, as well.)
That’s why the authors of the new study also examined a subset of foods rich in those 12 nutrients, ranking them by nutrient density to give them each an “Antidepressant Food Score.” And as it turns out, many of the same foods recommended for physical health are also good for mental health.
We took a closer look at the foods singled out in the new report and also asked food and mood researchers for their top dietary picks. While they won’t replace depression treatment–like therapy,medication, or both–these are the key elements of a healthy, mood-boosting diet.