Brainy Food For Mental Health

Food can play an influential role in mental health. According to Uma Naidoo, MD, director of nutritional and lifestyle psychiatry, certain foods can help elevate mood while others can alleviate or worsen symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

food for mental health

She recommends including whole, nutrient-rich foods into your diet while restricting ultraprocessed items and sweets.

Healthy Fats

Studies demonstrate the significance of eating well for both physical and mental wellbeing. A diet rich in fat, protein, and carbohydrates is key in maintaining stable blood sugar levels – helping you keep your emotions balanced as a result.

Utilize monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from sources like olive oil, chia seeds, nuts, avocado, etc. while limiting saturated and trans fats found in processed food products.


Many individuals don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables, yet eating fresh produce has been linked to improved mental health.

Fruits like bananas provide natural sugar, vitamin B6 and prebiotic fiber that can help keep blood sugar stable, which in turn can help ease mood swings. Berries contain anthocyanins which have anti-inflammatory effects to combat depression.


Vegetables are an excellent source of antioxidants, which are vital in combatting inflammation and decreasing depression risk. Leafy greens in particular play a vital role by mopping up free radicals which cause oxidative stress and damaging brain cell damage.

Researchers discovered that eating the recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables was linked with improved mental health, including improved mood and life satisfaction. Researchers recommended eating them raw rather than cooked or canned to optimize health benefits.


Nuts contain nutrients that are proven to aid cognitive health, memory, learning and attention. Regularly snacking on nuts may even protect against age-related mental decline.

Studies have demonstrated that people who consume nuts (particularly walnuts, almonds and pistachios ) regularly have lower rates of depression as well as reduced stress and anxiety levels.


Beans are nutritional powerhouses, offering an abundance of amino acids essential for muscle repair and building. In addition, beans provide folate, niacin, riboflavin and vitamin B6 for additional nourishment.

Watermelons contain plenty of phosphorous, an important mineral for strengthening bones and teeth. Plus, they’re packed with natural antioxidants which may protect against cancer.

Named for their pod-like growth pattern, legume plants such as peas, lentils and beans form this group.

Lean Meat

Diets that promote good mental health tend to include vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean meats while being low in both sugar and saturated fat content.

This study showed that people who consumed meat experienced less depression and anxiety than those who didn’t, although study quality varied greatly, precluding inferences about temporal relationships or causal correlations from being drawn.


Eggs are an excellent source of B vitamins, vitamin D and choline – three nutrients which have been found to boost mood and decrease stress levels.

Choline is essential in producing acetylcholine, which impacts brain functions such as memory. People with low choline levels have been linked with depression.

Studies suggest that eating more eggs may increase levels of “good” cholesterol, with benefits for overall cardiovascular health and wellness. Enjoy them boiled, poached, scrambled or fried along with vegetables and whole grains for best results.


Fish is packed with omega-3 fatty acids and studies have demonstrated its beneficial effects in terms of decreasing depression rates. Furthermore, eating more fish also provides essential vitamin B-12 intake which has an important impact on brain chemistry that directly impact mood.

Fish is an excellent source of both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), two brain-essential omega-3 fats. Try increasing seafood in your diet with items certified sustainable by MSC.

Nut Butters

Nut butters offer an ideal way to add protein and healthy fats into a sandwich without the extra calories associated with mayonnaise or cream cheese spreads. Their blend of healthy fats, fiber and proteins will provide both heart protection and superior protein intake.

Look for nut butters that contain only nuts without added sugar, salt or oil – such as almond, cashew or sunflower seed butters.

One tablespoon of cashew butter provides one-fourth of your daily vitamin E and magnesium needs.

Whole Grains

An intake of whole grains can help alleviate anxiety and stress. When selecting these grains, be wary of those which have undergone intensive processing as this may deplete vital vitamins from their nutritional profile.

Eat whole grains to regulate serotonin levels and promote restful sleep cycles, as these are rich in tryptophan which the body uses to make serotonin. Plus, whole grains provide fiber, B vitamins, and magnesium!