Did you know that scientists can rank foods for their role in prevention and recovery from depressive disorders? That’s how strong the connection is between food and mood.

Dr. 2018 two doctors compiled a list of nutrients proven to play a role in treating and preventing depressive disorders. Then, they identified foods rich in these antidepressant nutrients and, based on the nutrient’s density in the food, gave them an Antidepressant Food Score (AFS). You can read the review here. 

Their list of nutrients includes folate, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, selenium, thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and zinc. Guess what? The food category with the highest antidepressant rating was VEGETABLES!

Nutritionists can (and do!)  go back and forth all day about whether being vegan or paleo or keto is the best way to eat for your mental health. Still, it’s really about making vegetables the center of whichever way you choose to eat. 

CDC says that only 1 IN 10 adults meets the federal vegetable recommendations of 2-3 cups per day. The Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest diets, and top-scoring AFS foods like seafood, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and nuts are all key parts of this diet.

If you’re looking to boost your health AND your mood, the highest-scoring vegetables were DARK LEAFY GREENS, including watercress, spinach, Swiss chard, and lettuces. I love adding these as a base to a meal with lots of other colorful vegetables and a carb/protein/fat source!

Core tip: The Antidepressant Food Score was designed to identify the most nutrient-dense individual foods to prevent and promote recovery from depressive disorders and symptoms. Results can be used to inform the design of future research studies or clinical dietary recommendations. This tool is based on a systematic literature review, an evidence-informed list of Antidepressant Nutrients, and nutrient density calculation. The highest scoring animal foods were bivalves such as oysters and mussels, various kinds of seafood, and organ meats. The highest scoring plant-based foods were leafy greens, lettuces, peppers, and cruciferous vegetables. 

Which of these vegetables will you be adding to your plate this week?

Christina C Wilson MS, CNS, LN


Author Coaches

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