7 things to eat for lower depression and better sleep

American researchers recently studied the relationship between nutrition and depression through diet quality and sleep quality.

The researchers collected data from 36 participants using the Healthy Eating Index, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and the Beck Depression Inventory. The data covered their diet, sleep, and mental health over a 5-day period.

What the researchers discovered was that those participants who better followed the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 enjoyed better sleep quality than those who poorly followed the guidelines. They also had higher omega-3 levels in their diet, which the researchers connected with lower depressive symptoms.

What are the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010?

Things we need to eat less of

  • Reduce sodium intake
  • Get no more than 10% of your daily calories from saturated fats
    • One way to do this is replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat
  • Eat less than 300 mg per day of cholesterol.
  • Keep trans fat consumption low.
  • Reduce solid fat and added sugar intake
  • Eat fewer refined foods

Things we need to eat more of

For positive steps, the guidelines are:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
    • Eat a variety of vegetables
  • At least half of the grain foods you eat should be whole grain
  • Eat more low-fat dairy
  • Get protein from a variety of sources, including plants
  • Have more seafood, and a variety of it.
  • Eat protein with less solid fat.
  • Eat foods with higher nutrient levels, especially calcium, potassium, and vitamin D, as well as dietary fibre.

This further underscores the discovery from a growing list of clinical studies showing a connection between mental health and nutrition.

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  • Judith Light

    Low-fat foods have sugar added to make up for the loss in taste due to reduced fat. Sugar should be avoided as much as possible.

    • Truehope

      Great point, Judith.