What to eat (and avoid) when you have ADHD

Recently, Australian researchers published a study in the Journal of Attention Disorders examining the relationship between dietary patterns and ADHD.

After examining 1172 adolescents with an ADHD diagnosis, researchers identified two major dietary patterns in the sample: western and healthy.

What is a western diet?

The western dietary pattern included higher intakes of total fat, saturated fat, refined sugars, and sodium, and lower intakes of omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and folate.

High in

Low in

  • Total fat
  • Saturated fat
  • Sugar
  • Sodium
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Fibre
  • Folate

So in other words, a western diet is one dominated by fast food, prepared food, and junk food.

What is a healthy diet?

The healthy dietary pattern had higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and folate, with lower levels of total fat, saturated fat, and refined sugars.

High in

Low in

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Fibre
  • Folate
  • Total fat
  • Saturated fat
  • Sugar

What are sources of these healthy foods?

Omega 3 fatty acids

These are the top 10 best sources of omega 3 fatty acids, based on serving size:

  1. Flaxseed (oil or ground)
  2. Walnuts
  3. Caviar
  4. Salmon
  5. Herring
  6. Anchovies
  7. Whitefish
  8. Sardines
  9. Oysters
  10. Mackerel

Fibre

These are the top 10 best sources of dietary fibre, based on serving size:

  1. Raw corn bran
  2. Cooked beans (yellow, adzuki, black, pinto, kidney, navy, white, refried, etc)
  3. Raw wheat bran
  4. Bran cereals
  5. Cooked artichoke
  6. Baked beans with wieners and pork
  7. Cooked French beans
  8. Cooked black-eyed peas
  9. Cooked soybeans
  10. Shredded coconut meat

Folate

These are the top 10 best sources of folate, based on serving size:

  1. Cooked liver (beef or pork)
  2. Cooked asparagus
  3. Cooked spinach
  4. Cooked enriched egg noodles
  5. Cooked enriched pasta
  6. Cooked artichoke
  7. Cooked okra
  8. Cooked turnip greens
  9. Cooked broccoli
  10. Bagels

Which diet is connected with ADHD?

Adolescents with higher scores for a western dietary pattern had a greater likelihood of having an ADHD diagnosis.

This is one more study in a growing body of research showing a connection between what we eat and our mental health.

Did you like this post? Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter to stay up to date on new posts.