Food

These Foods Are *Really* Good for Mental Well-Being

Now, more than ever, it’s super important that you look after your mental well-being. As well as being aware of the role a bad diet plays in creating stress, it’s a smart idea to clue yourself up on the good stuff you should be eating.

Because here’s the thing: Just like the bad fats found in hamburgers can cause depression, there are lots of wondrous foods that improve our mood and overall mental well-being. In this article, I’m going to take a look at some of the best ones.

🥑 Avocado

I remember when everyone was going crazy for avocado in 2014 when it was heralded as a superfood. The National Geographic even told us we were eating too much avocado!

The thing is, avocado is a well-known nutrition powerhouse that you should keep eating. As well as being loaded with protein and vitamin K, avocados are rich in the kind of healthy fats that are good for your brain.

The fats that are specific to avocado are known as oleic acid. Oleic acid produces more myelin in your system, which supercharges your mental well-being.

Research has also shown that oleic acid contributes to brain plasticity, which itself boosts personality traits such as openness, creativity, intelligence, enthusiasm, and curiosity. Pretty cool, huh?

🍒 Berries

There are all kinds of different berries — blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries — and it’s just a matter of finding your favorite. And, hey, maybe you’ll like them all! (I love blueberries).

Berries work great as snacks. You can pack them in your lunch box and take them to work with you, but you can also add them to yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies and — when you’re feeling a bit naughty — ice cream.

Why berries?

Because berries contain powerful antioxidants that help to remove nasty free radicals from your system. And when you remove free radicals from your system, symptoms associated with depression and anxiety calm down.

Also, berries have been found to boost memory and attention span. Neat.

🥛 Yogurt

Just now, I mentioned how you can pair berries up with yogurt. And if you do that, your mental well-being will hit the jackpot as yogurt is also great for the mind.

Yogurt is famous for its probiotics, which aid your digestive system, easing bloating and gas. The great thing that research has demonstrated a link between probiotics and better mental health.

🥬 Leafy greens

Remember when your parents used to try to get you to eat your greens as a kid? I remember my mum would try anything to get me to eat mine, but nothing worked! Damn, if only she told me that my mental well-being would improve if I munched on some spinach...

The likes of spinach and kale have incredible nutritional profiles, with kale even being hailed as the Queen of Greens. But while we surely all know about spinach’s magnificent iron content, what’s less talked about is the effect leafy greens have on our brain.

As it turns out, the more spinach and kale you eat, the slower your rate of cognitive decline will be.

Now, no one wants to decline mentally at all. We want to stay as sharp as possible for as long as possible. So, get those greens down you!

🍅 Tomatoes

Are tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable? It’s the eternal debate. What isn’t up for debate is that tomatoes are one of the best ways to fight depression via food.

Tomatoes are rich in folic acid, which is currently being studied for its ability to tackle depression. The reason it’s thought to be so good is because it boosts your body’s folate content: low levels of folate is a well-known cause of depression.

What we already known about folic acid is that it is able to inhibit the production of a bad boy amino acid called homocysteine. When your body produces too much homocysteine, the production of so-called “happy hormones” like dopamine and serotonin is suppressed. This, in turn, can make you feel sad.

Extra tips

Always eat breakfast

Why should you make breakfast a priority?

Breakfast sets the right tone. A healthy, hearty breakfast reduces the risk you’ll binge on junk food on your way to the office, gets your metabolism moving and grooving ASAP, and loads you up on energy, which is hugely beneficial for your concentration levels and brain health in general.

Plus, skipping breakfast means you’ll go hungry. And who doesn’t get in a bad mood when they’re hungry?

Avoid foods that cause spikes in your blood sugar

Blood sugar spikes are caused by all kinds of things, and one of them is a poor diet. When your blood sugar levels soar or plummet, it can cause mental health issues, such as depression.

It’s a good idea, then, to avoid unnecessary spikes by limiting your intake of the likes of alcohol, fizzy drinks, biscuits, and sweets.

Eat smaller portions

The aim is to eat foods that release energy slowly while eating smaller portions. Smaller portions are better for your overall health because they prevent a collision of carbon molecules. This in turn improves your metabolism, you’ll feel more energized — and you’ll feel better within yourself.

Final thoughts

In short, be kind to your body. Eat more of the right things and less of the wrong things. Get greens into your diet as much as you can (preferably each day) and take berries to work with you.

Cheers to our mental health!

Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is not intended as medical advice to cure or treat any disease. Please, do seek help from a licensed therapist if you have been feeling sad or stressed for a while now.

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About Will Titterington

Will is a writer who's always looking for ways to live more sustainably. He’d probably like to build his own house one day but one step at a time — he’s only just learned how to change a lightbulb.