As you probably know, I recommend the Pan-Asian Modified Mediterranean (PAMM) diet for everyone, since it is simply the best overall eating plan for your heart and the rest of your body. But if you suffer from mild depression, here are a handful of specific types of foods that I suggest you include regularly in your diet to help boost your mood naturally. Not surprisingly, these foods fit in perfectly with the PAMM plan.
Foods for Depression and Anxiety
- Eat more eggs. Eggs contain all the basic amino acids necessary to produce essential neurotransmitters, including serotonin, which promotes feelings of relaxation and well-being. They are also rich in sulfur and magnesium, both good for your heart. Eat as many as four to six organic or free range eggs per week, and don’t worry about the notion that eggs contribute to the formation of LDL cholesterol. That’s an unfounded myth.
- Include 4 to 5 ounces of protein with every meal to stimulate the steady production of tryptophan, a building block of serotonin. My top recommendations, in addition to fish, are organic, range-fed poultry and meats, such as bison, as well as tofu, tempeh, and eggs.
- Get sufficient amounts of essential fatty acids (EFAs). These healthy fats are particularly important for proper brain function. In addition, there is biological evidence of low levels of omega-3 fats contributing to depression. Prime sources of EFAs are fish and flax. Eat two to three fish meals per week, use 1 tablespoon flax oil, or take in a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed on a regular basis.
- Add walnuts to meals. Speaking of mood-boosting EFAs, walnuts are a great source of brain-healthy (and heart-healthy) omega-3 fats. In addition, walnuts are chockfull of the feel-good compound serotonin. And since both omega-3 fats and serotonin help promote satiety, eating walnuts can help you control your food cravings and weight by making you feel fuller longer. So, chop up a few walnuts and sprinkle them on your oatmeal, throw them into your salad, or just grab a handful for a quick and satisfying snack.
- Eat a potato. Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D., author of Potatoes Not Prozac, has found that eating half a baked potato (with skin) before bed puts your biochemistry in motion to increase serotonin levels naturally. Potatoes, which have a moderately high glycemic index, create a precisely timed “hit” of insulin to escort serotonin- and sleep-inducing tryptophan into the brain. But because potatoes are so satisfying compared with other high-carbohydrate foods, they are not likely to trigger carbohydrate cravings. Research has shown that severe carbohydrate cravings can be a result of serotonin deficiency, often exacerbated by trendy low-carb diets.
Now it’s your turn: Have you found that any of these foods boost your mood?