In September 2018, researchers in Canada published a study in World Journal of Psychiatry showing a connection between depression and food intake.
The researchers analyzed over 200 studies published during a 70-year period beginning in 1946 for the role the following 34 essential nutrients played in depression:
12 antidepressant nutrients
After their analysis, the researchers narrowed the list down to just 12 nutrients, which they labelled as “antidepressant nutrients”. These 12 nutrients had emerged in the published research as nutrients that positively impacted depression when consumed regularly. The 12 nutrients that seemed to have antidepressant qualities are:
- Long chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA)
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
44 antidepressant foods
After isolating the 12 nutrients connected to lowering depression levels, the researchers compiled the top 20 plant and animal whole food sources for each nutrient. After eliminating duplicates from these top 20 food lists, the researchers ended up with 213 foods with these nutrients. They added 23 commonly recommended healthy foods (such as whole wheat, blueberries, and yogurt) to end up with 236 foods in total.
The researchers then calculated the antidepressant nutrient density for each of those 236 foods, functionally resulting in a nutrient density score, which they labelled Antidepressant Food Score. The following list contains the foods with the best Antidepressant Food Score, starting with the highest.
|Fruits and vegetables||Meats|
|Spinach||97%||Liver and organ meats (spleen, kidneys, or heart)||18–38%|
|Lettuces (red, green, romaine)||74–99%||Poultry giblets||31%|
|Mustard, turnip, or beet greens||76–93%||Clam||30%|
|Fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, or parsley)||73–75%||Octopus||27%|
|Kale or collards||48–62%||Tuna||15–21%|
|Peppers (bell, serrano, or jalapeno)||39–56%||Smelt||20%|
|Brussels sprouts||35%||Snail or whelk||16%|
After the researchers compiled the 44 antidepressant foods, they highlighted a few important points regarding the current American (or Western) diet:
- 27.2% of American adults eat 3 of more servings of vegetables per day
- 10–20% of Americans eat 3 servings of seafood per week.
- Traditional diets (such as the Mediterranean diet) commonly contain top scoring antidepressant foods
- Many individuals do not meet the RDA of several antidepressant nutrients, for example:
- 55% of Americans do not meet the RDA for vitamin A
- 75% of Americans do not meet the RDA for folate
- 68% of Americans do not meet the RDA for magnesium
This is one more study in a growing body of research showing a connection between what we eat and our mental health. Here at Truehope, we’ve been promoting nutrition as mental health treatment for over 20 years.
Did you know that Truehope EMPowerplus Advanced contains 11 of the 12 antidepressant nutrients listed above? EMPowerplus is an all-natural combination of 36 vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants specifically formulated to support physical and mental well-being. Also, being the subject of over 30 clinical trials makes it the most independently researched micronutrient formula in the world.