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AlisonBrill Posted by Alison T. Brill, MPH, Community Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Do you notice how certain foods affect your mood? What we eat has a profound effect on our bodies, both physically and mentally. I always feel like I have a better day when I eat a banana, and I feel sluggish and irritable when I eat high-fat and high sugar foods (as well as wheat, as I’ve recently discovered). It turns out that there’s actually some science behind that. If you're facing serious depression, it’s important to talk with your doctor or mental health provider. However, studies show (and my personal experiences confirm for me!) that what you eat has a great impact on how you feel. Check out how bananas and other foods can contribute to better mental wellness!



Many people suffering from depression have been shown to feel less depressed after eating a banana. This may be because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into mood-lifting serotonin. Bananas also contain vitamin B6, which has been shown to even out your mood naturally and relieve symptoms of PMS. Compared to an apple, the potassium-rich banana has three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and many other vitamins and minerals. Maybe the old saying should be, “A banana a day keeps the doctor away!”


Salmon is full of omega-3s, those heart-healthy fats that aid mood and memory. Several studies suggest this nutrient can help lift mood, alleviate mild depression, and improve memory. People lacking omega-3 fats may be at increased risk for depression. Oily fish like salmon is also rich in vitamin B12. This vitamin is believed to help in production of serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters responsible for mood. Herring, sardines and mackerel are also high in omega-3s.


A deficiency in the essential mineral selenium may be linked with depression and poor mood. Good thing that just one boiled egg contains almost 20% of your daily dose! Eggs are high in calcium and many eggs now contain healthy omega-3 fats in the yolks, which have calming effects. Because eggs are complete proteins and contain vitamins and minerals, they are often considered nature’s perfect food.

KaleChips250x376Spinach and dark, leafy greens

Dark leafy greens, such as spinach, chard, and kale, are high in folic acid, a nutrient proven to help alleviate depression and reduce fatigue. These greens contain lots of antioxidants, which protect brain cells from free radicals that dampen mood and drain energy. In addition, dark leafy greens are packed with magnesium, which aids sleep and enhances our ability to overcome and manage stress. Try making easy and delicious kale chips!


Walnuts are powerhouse nuts. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium, which may help to ward off depression, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. Walnuts help stabilize mood by regulating blood sugar levels and lessen mood swings. They’re also an antioxidant-rich food, making it an easy on-the-go mood booster. Flax seeds and sunflower seeds are great mood improving foods as well.

Of course, our state of mood is complex and influenced by many things, so we can’t rely solely on the foods we eat. But changing your diet is one thing you do have control over that can help manage your emotions. Experiment with some of these mood-boosting foods today and take note of how you feel. Then, share your experiences and ideas here!


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