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Depression Health Center

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Foods to Help You Feel Better

6 ways to add mood-boosting foods to your diet.

1. Seek out foods rich in vitamin B12 and folic acid (folate). continued...

The link between higher food intakes of folate and a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms crosses cultures, too. A recent study confirmed this association in Japanese men.

Folic acid is usually found in beans and greens. Vitamin B12 is found in meats, fish, poultry, and dairy.

Other dishes that feature B-12 and folic acid-rich foods include:

  • A burrito or enchilada made with black beans plus beef, chicken, or pork
  • A spinach salad topped with crab or salmon
  • An egg white or egg substitute omelet filled with sauteed spinach and reduced-fat cheese

2. Enjoy fruits and vegetables in a big way.

Fruits and vegetables are packed with key nutrients and antioxidant phytochemicals, which directly contribute to your health and health-related quality of life.

In a one study, eating two more servings of fruits and vegetables a day was associated with an 11% higher likelihood of good functional health. People who ate the highest amount of fruits and vegetables felt better about their health.

3. Eat selenium-rich foods every day.

Selenium is a mineral that acts like an antioxidant in the body. What do antioxidants have to do with feeling better and minimizing bad moods? Research suggests that the presence of oxidative stress in the brain is associated with some cases of mild to moderate depression in the elderly population.

One study evaluated the depression scores of elderly people whose daily diet was either supplemented with 200 micrograms of selenium a day or a placebo. Although more research is needed to confirm the findings, the group taking selenium had higher amounts of selenium circulating in their blood and significant decreases in their depression symptoms.

Try to get at least the recommended daily allowance for selenium: 55 micrograms a day for men and women.

Whole grains are an excellent source of selenium. By eating several servings a day of whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-grain bread, and brown rice, you can easily get 70 micrograms of selenium. Other foods rich in selenium include:

  • Beans and legumes
  • Lean meat (lean pork or beef, skinless chicken or turkey)
  • Low-fat dairy foods
  • Nuts and seeds (especially Brazil nuts)
  • Seafood (oysters, clams, crab, sardines, and fish)

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