Top 5 best and worst foods for your mental health

We all know the benefits of fresh, healthy food on the body – but how about the mind?

More than ever before, there's been a pronounced change in the public conversation surrounding mental health. No longer hidden away from family and friends, people are voicing their struggles and desires for change. One of the easier ways to fend off bouts of depression comes down to your diet. You are what you eat, right? 

 

Best

Bananas

Although you won't feel an immediate change in your mood after enjoying a banana for breakfast or an afternoon snack, this "mood food" plays a role in "topping up" the amount of serotonin ("feel-good" chemicals) the brain produces.

Walnuts

If you're feeling down, reach for a handful of crunchy walnuts for a quick pick-me-up. Research suggests that eating more walnuts is the secret to a happier state of mind. The top nut for brain health, they boast a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids and are rich in antioxidants.  

Whole Grains 

Whole grains can help reduce depression and anxiety by relaxing the brain and improving your mood. And, thanks to its equally high production of melatonin, whole grains can also help you maintain a steady sleep cycle – resulting in a more fitful slumber and better emotional state

Yogurt 

A probiotic bacteria found in yogurt directly impacts mental health by lowering levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Depression, stress, anxiety, and anger can all trigger a reaction in your gut. So, if you're busy ingesting your favourite yogurt topped with berries and granola, your brain is notified that something good has entered your tummy

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is A-OK when it comes to boosting mental health and wellness. This treat makes the list due to its high cocoa content. Thanks to its high levels of the antioxidant flavanol, dark chocolate can enhance your mood and boost attention levels.

 

Worst

Sugar 

News flash: sugar is not at all beneficial to your overall mental health. In fact, it's a detriment to it. Not only can it inflict long-lasting damage to your body if you overindulge on a regular basis, but a so-called "sugar rush" can send your brain on an emotional journey and seriously affect your well-being. In a nutshell: sugar will only serve to inflame your depression and anxiety

Bread

Refined white starches can wreak havoc on your emotional state. We totally get it: when you're sad, all you want to eat are carbs. But it can spike blood sugar levels and affect your mood in a big way

Caffeine

Although a low dose of caffeine can result in an improvement of overall mood, high intakes throughout the day can result in frayed nerves, anxiety, and a serious case of the jitters. The good news: no one is telling you to quit coffee – but limiting yourself to one cup a day

Fast Food or Fried Food

There's definitely something to be said about the level of comfort we receive from indulging in a fast-food meal or fried dish, but in the end, it's just not worth it – especially if we're in a state of emotional turmoil. None of us needs artery-clogging trans fat – not only is it bad for the heart, but it's detrimental to the mind.

Processed Meats

It's not just bad for your body, it's potentially toxic for the mind as well. They all contain high levels of the chemical nitrate – which is used to preserve them in those tightly sealed packages you buy them in.