Healthy Eating for Depression

Overview

One of the keys to a healthy body is making the right food choices. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy foods, and lean meats, poultry, and fish can go a long way toward lowering your risk of physical health problems.

Did you know that nutritious foods can also protect your mental health? Although no single nutrient or eating plan can cure depression, good overall nutrition is essential for your mental well-being. Eating foods that are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, protein, and fatty acids is key to keeping your brain in good working order.

Essential nutrients

Your brain, like other organs, responds to what you eat and drink. It needs several vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to stay healthy. If you deprive your brain of these essential nutrients, it can’t function properly. This can raise your risk of mental health problems.

Vitamins and minerals

Vitamins and minerals play a key role in your brain health. Vitamins that are particularly important for your brain include:

  • vitamin C
  • vitamin D
  • B vitamins

To function properly, your brain also depends on minerals, such as:

  • magnesium
  • selenium
  • zinc

Complex carbohydrates

Carbohydrates serve a few purposes in nourishing your brain. At the most basic level, your brain depends on glucose for energy. This simple sugar is derived from carbohydrates in your diet. Carbohydrates also help stimulate your brain’s production of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin.

Rather than snacking on sweets and processed grains, choose complex carbohydrates, such as those found in:

  • fruits and vegetables
  • whole-grain foods
  • legumes

Your body converts these carbohydrates into glucose more slowly than simple carbohydrates, which are found in processed sugars and grains. As a result, complex carbohydrates provide a more stable and consistent flow of fuel to your brain.