According to nutritionist, Carolyn Williams, “The connection between food and depression is not fully understood, but there is enough research to suggest that focusing on certain ones may lessen one’s likelihood of developing depression or potentially aid in treating existing depression.”
In her article, “8 Foods That Help Fight Depression,” Williams cites 8 nutrient-rich foods that can help fight depression. Four of them are unusual, and we thought they were worth noting:
Oysters — Oysters, as well as other mollusks and shellfish, are a great source of zinc, which plays a key role in daily brain functioning—specifically in regards to mental clarity, behavior, and attention. Research has also noted that those with depression tend to have lower levels of zinc. While it’s unclear if a lack of zinc leads to depression, or if low zinc levels are a side effect of depression, almost everyone can benefit by incorporating more zinc-rich foods. Oysters and other shellfish are good choices, since they also provide vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and selenium—three other nutrients also associated with brain health.
Fermented foods — Gut bacteria plays a role in the development of a variety of mental health issues (including depression). Adding adding food rich in good bacteria—such as fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, miso, tamari, tempeh, and sauerkraut, as well as fermented dairy products like yogurt—to your diet is beneficial to your overall health. In fact, a meta-analysis of almost 100 studies found that depression risk was reduced significantly by regularly consuming probiotic-rich foods.
Wild blueberries — Note we said wild, and not just regular blueberries. They are a specific type harvested in the Northeast that have appear to have higher concentrations of antioxidant-like compounds, which serve in protecting brain cells from harmful free radicals and promote proper brain functioning during stressful times. Most wild blueberries are frozen immediately after harvest to preserve nutrients, so look for them near other frozen berries and fruit.
Walnuts — Walnuts are already a top nut for heart health, thanks to their powerful combo of omega-3s, vitamin E, and antioxidants, but they may also reduce your risk for depression. A study published earlier this year that analyzed data from over 26,000 U.S. adults found that those who regularly ate walnuts had a significantly reduced risk for depression. In fact, the study found that depression scores were 26% lower for individuals who ate approximately 1 ounce of walnuts each day
While no food will magically cure depression, eating a healthier diet full of these foods may help improve physical and mental function. So stock up your ‘fridge and pantry with these foods and know that you’re doing your best to keep depression at bay.