Diet​ ​for​ ​Depression:​ ​9​ ​Mood​ ​Enhancing​ Foods

diet for depression

Most​ ​people​ ​go​ ​through​ ​periods​ ​of​ ​feeling​ ​sad​ ​or​ ​withdrawal​ ​at​ ​some​ ​point or​ ​the​ ​other,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​quite​ ​natural,​ ​but​ ​if​ ​you​ ​feel​ ​sad​ ​continuously​ ​for weeks​ ​or​ ​months​ ​or​ ​for​ ​years​ ​then​ ​it​ ​could​ ​be​ ​a​ ​sign​ ​of​ ​depression.

​According​ ​to​ ​the​ ​​World​ ​Health​ ​Organization​​ ​(WHO),​ ​350​ ​million​ ​people worldwide​ ​suffer​ ​from​ ​depression.

According​ ​to​ ​NIMH​,​ ​an​ ​estimated​ ​16.1​ ​million​ ​adults​ ​aged​ ​18​ ​or​ ​older​ ​in​ ​the United​ ​States​ ​had​ ​at​ ​least​ ​one​ ​major​ ​depressive​ ​episode​ ​in​ ​2015.​ ​This number​ ​represented​ ​6.7%​ ​of​ ​all​ ​U.S.​ ​adults.

​Depression​ ​is​ ​not​ ​a​ ​sign​ ​of​ ​weakness​ ​rather​ ​it​ ​is​ ​a​ ​serious​ ​medical condition​ ​having​ ​real​ ​symptoms.​ ​But​ ​the​ ​good​ ​news​ ​is​ ​that​ ​it​ ​is​ ​fully curable.​ ​

Along​ ​with​ ​the​ ​therapy​ ​and​ ​the​ ​medications,​ ​there’s​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​that​ ​can be​ ​done.

Some​ ​changes​ ​in​ ​your​ ​lifestyle,​ ​physical​ ​activity​ ​and​ ​thinking​ ​can​ ​slowly make​ ​you​ ​feel​ ​better.

Changes​ ​in​ ​your​ ​diet​ ​by​ ​including​ ​some​ ​mood​ ​enhancing​ ​foods​ ​that​ ​are known​ ​to​ ​fight​ ​depression​ ​can​ ​be​ ​very​ ​helpful.

Now​ ​the​ ​question​ ​arises​ ​that​ ​how​ ​does​ ​food​ ​help​ ​in​ ​fighting depression?

​Well,​ ​some​ ​foods​ ​are​ ​known​ ​to​ ​contain​ ​antioxidants​ ​and​ ​nutrients​ ​that​ ​give the​ ​brain​ a ​lot​ ​of​ ​energy​ ​to​ ​create​ ​neurotransmitters.

Serotonin​,​ ​a​ ​neurotransmitter​ ​which​ ​is​ ​produced​ ​in​ ​the​ ​brain​ ​and​ ​the intestines is​ ​​responsible​ ​to​ ​regulate​ ​anxiety,​ ​happiness​ ​and​ ​mood​ ​and is majorly​ ​affected​ ​by​ ​our​ ​diet.​ ​

It​ ​is​ ​made​ ​from​ ​the​ ​essential​ ​amino​ ​acid ‘​tryptophan​’.​ ​This​ ​amino​ ​acid​ ​is​ ​commonly​ ​found​ ​in​ ​nuts,​ ​red​ ​meat,​ ​and cheese​ ​etc.​

​So​ ​a​ ​deficiency​ ​of​ ​this​ ​amino​ ​acid​ ​leads​ ​to​ ​lower​ ​levels​ ​of serotonin,​ ​which​ ​in​ ​turn​ ​can​ ​lead​ ​to​ ​mood​ ​disorders​ ​leading​ ​to​ ​depression in​ ​some​ ​cases.

According to a study from researchers at Duke University in Durham, NC (published in February 2015) mice who were deficient in serotonin were more vulnerable to stress than a group of healthy control mice.

Interestingly,​ ​there​ ​are​ ​many​ ​foods​ ​like​ ​walnuts,​ ​pineapple,​ ​kiwis,​ ​tomatoes etc​ ​that​ ​contain​ ​serotonin,​ ​​but​ ​the​ ​serotonin​ ​present​ ​in​ ​these​ ​foods​ ​does not​ ​enter​ ​the​ ​brain.​ ​

The​ ​brain​ ​is​ ​supposed​ ​to​ ​produce​ ​its​ ​own​ ​serotonin​ ​with the​ ​help​ ​of​ ​tryptophan.​ ​

So​ ​it​ ​gets​ ​important​ ​to​ ​add​ ​foods​ ​to​ ​our​ ​diet​ ​that​ ​are rich​ ​in​ ​tryptophan​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​fight​ ​depression.

​A​ ​quick​ ​way​ ​to​ ​raise​ ​serotonin​ ​is​ ​by​ ​having​ ​sugary​ ​food.​ ​

This​ ​is​ ​the​ ​reason why​ ​people​ ​crave​ ​for​ ​sugary​ ​and​ ​fatty​ ​foods​ ​when​ ​they​ ​feel​ ​stressed.

However,​ ​sugar​ ​also​ ​triggers​ ​a​ ​stress​ ​promoting​ ​chemical​ ​called​ ​cortisol,​ ​so binging​ ​on​ ​sweets​ ​is​ ​not​ ​a​ ​good​ ​idea.

​According​ ​to​ ​the​ ​experts​ ​serotonin​ ​level​ ​can​ ​be​ ​raised​ ​if carbohydrates​ ​and​ ​proteins​ ​are​ ​consumed​ ​separately. 

​Here​ ​are​ ​some​ ​foods-​ ​also​ ​known​ ​as​ ​mood​ ​enhancing​ ​foods,​ ​that​ ​are known​ ​to​ ​help​ ​fight​ ​depression:  ​

1. Turmeric:​ ​​Turmeric​ ​is​ ​also​ ​termed​ ​as​ ​miracle​ ​spice​ ​as​ ​it​ ​is​ ​known​ ​to possess​ ​a​ ​number​ ​of​ ​healing​ ​properties.​ ​


Turmeric​ ​is​ ​known​ ​to​ ​be anti-inflammatory,​ ​anticarcinogenic,​ ​antifungal,​ ​antibacterial, antidepressant,​ ​pain​ ​reliever,​ ​anti-diabetic​ ​etc.​ ​

The​ ​medicinal properties​ ​of​ ​turmeric​ ​are​ ​primarily​ ​due​ ​to​ ​the​ ​curcuminoid​ ​content​ ​in it.​

​Mainly,​ ​three​ ​types​ ​of​ ​curcuminoids​ ​are​ ​there:​ ​curcumin, demethoxycurcumin,​ ​and​ ​bisdemethoxycurcumin.

​Curcumin​ ​is​ ​known to​ ​regulate​ ​neurotransmitters​ ​such​ ​as​ ​serotonin​ ​and​ ​thus​ ​helps​ ​to fight​ ​depression.​ ​

It​ ​is​ ​also​ ​a​ ​rich​ ​source​ ​of​ ​antioxidants​ ​and​ ​is​ ​known to​ ​fight​ ​inflammation​ ​and​ ​free​ ​radicals.

2. Fruits​ ​and​ ​vegetables:​​ ​Almost​ ​all​ ​the​ ​fruits​ ​and​ ​vegetables​ ​are loaded​ ​with​ ​nutrients​ ​and​ ​antioxidants.

fruits and vegetables

​People​ ​who​ ​have​ ​a​ ​diet​ ​rich​ ​in vegetables​ ​and​ ​fruits​ ​instead​ ​of​ ​fried​ ​food,​ ​sugary​ ​food​ ​and​ ​refined grains​ ​etc​ ​have​ ​lower​ ​rates​ ​of​ ​depression.​ ​

For​ ​instance,​ ​carrots​ ​are loaded​ ​with​ ​beta-carotene​ ​which​ ​is​ ​a​ ​powerful​ ​antioxidant​ ​which​ ​helps to​ ​fight​ ​depression.​ ​

Carotenoids​ ​occur​ ​naturally​ ​in​ ​bright​ ​red,​ ​yellow, and​ ​orange​ ​pigments​ ​in​ ​fruits​ ​and​ ​vegetables.​ ​

Leafy​ ​green vegetables​ ​contain​ ​folate.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​a​ ​fact​ ​that​ ​low​ ​level​ ​of​ ​folate​ ​can​ ​result in​ ​depression​ ​along​ ​with​ ​many​ ​other​ ​problems.​ ​Folate​ ​is​ ​known​ ​to affect​ ​neurotransmitters​ ​that​ ​impact​ ​mood.​ ​​

​Other​ ​folate-rich vegetables​ ​are-​ ​asparagus,​ ​Brussels​ ​sprouts,​ ​beans,​ ​peas​ ​etc.​ ​All citrus​ ​fruits​ ​are​ ​also​ ​rich​ ​in​ ​folate.​ ​

Berries​ ​have​ ​the​ ​highest​ ​level​ ​of antioxidants​ ​that​ ​fight​ ​free​ ​radicals.​ ​

The​ ​high​ ​content​ ​of​ ​vitamin​ ​C​ ​is helpful​ ​in​ ​combating​ ​stress.​

​It’s​ ​best​ ​to​ ​have​ ​a​ ​variety​ ​of​ ​fruits​ ​and vegetables​ ​every​ ​day.​ ​Also​ ​adding​ ​fresh​ ​fruits​ ​to​ ​your​ ​favourite recipes​ ​helps​ ​maintain​ ​balance​ ​in​ ​nutrients​ ​and​ ​taste.​ ​

For​ ​instance,​ ​if you​ ​crave​ ​to​ ​have​ ​​rainbow​ ​waffles​​ ​for​ ​your​ ​breakfast​ ​then​ ​try​ ​making it​ ​with​ ​whole​ ​wheat​ ​flour​ ​and​ ​have​ ​it​ ​with​ ​loads​ ​of​ ​fruits​ ​that​ ​help​ ​in producing​ ​serotonin,​ ​and​ ​a​ ​glass​ ​of​ ​milk.

​3. Fatty​ ​fish:​​ ​Fatty​ ​fishes,​ ​like​ ​Salmon,​ ​Tuna,​ ​Sardines​ ​are​ ​rich​ ​in omega​ ​3s,​ ​a​ ​nutrient​ ​that​ ​our​ ​bodies​ ​don’t​ ​produce​ ​naturally​ ​and​ ​are hard​ ​to​ ​find​ ​in​ ​vegetarian​ ​diets.​ ​


Omega​ ​3s​ ​helps​ ​in​ ​the​ ​production​ ​of mood-enhancing​ ​chemicals​ ​like​ ​Serotonin.​ ​As​ ​stated​ ​above​ ​the​ ​low level​ ​of​ ​serotonin​ ​can​ ​be​ ​linked​ ​to​ ​anxiety​ ​and​ ​depression.​ ​Thus having​ ​fatty​ ​fish​ ​can​ ​help​ ​combat​ ​depression.​

​People​ ​on​ ​vegetarian diets​ ​should​ ​consult​ ​their​ ​doctors​ ​if​ ​they​ ​require​ ​omega-3 supplements.

​4. Dark​ ​chocolate:​​ ​Most​ ​of​ ​us​ ​tend​ ​to​ ​love​ ​chocolates,​ ​now​ ​there​ ​is​ ​all the​ ​more​ ​reason,​ ​backed​ ​by​ ​science,​ ​to​ ​snack​ ​on​ ​it​ ​in​ ​moderation ​if you​ ​are​ ​feeling​ ​low.

dark chocolate

​​Dark​ ​chocolate​ ​has​ ​some​ ​remarkable​ ​health benefits​.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​a​ ​rich​ ​source​ ​of​ ​two​ ​important​ ​antioxidants-​ ​polyphenols and​ ​flavonols.​ ​

These​ ​two​ ​antioxidants​ ​are​ ​known​ ​to​ ​reduce​ ​the​ ​stress hormone-​ ​cortisol.​ ​

These​ ​antioxidants​ ​also​ ​help​ ​to​ ​lower​ ​the​ ​blood pressure​ ​making​ ​us​ ​feel​ ​calm.​ ​

Some​ ​studies​ ​also​ ​confirm​ ​that​ ​dark chocolate​ ​helps​ ​to​ ​release​ ​serotonin.​ ​

So,​ ​dark​ ​chocolate​ ​is​ ​an amazing​ ​food​ ​to​ ​fight​ ​depression,​ ​just​ ​remember​ ​that​ ​it​ ​is​ ​high​ ​in calorie​ ​too​ ​and​ ​can​ ​add​ ​to​ ​extra​ ​pounds​ ​in​ ​a​ ​few​ ​weeks.​ ​

Experts recommend​ ​not​ ​more​ ​than​ ​1.4​ ​ounces​ ​per​ ​day.

5. Cheese:​ ​​All​ ​kinds​ ​of​ ​Cheese,​ ​namely​ ​cheddar,​ ​parmesan,​ ​swiss, fontina,​ ​gouda,​ ​and​ ​mozzarella​ ​contain ​tryptophan,​ ​an​ ​amino​ ​acid that​ ​is​ ​known​ ​to​ ​enhance​ ​brain​ ​functions​ ​and​ ​serotonin​ ​production.


Having​ ​foods​ ​rich​ ​in​ ​tryptophan​ ​helps​ ​in​ ​raising​ ​the​ ​serotonin​ ​levels and​ ​in​ ​turn​ ​helps​ ​in​ ​boosting​ ​the​ ​mood.

​6. Tea​ ​(Black,Green,oolong)​ ​​:​ ​According​ ​to​ ​a​ ​study​ ​published​ ​in Pubmed​ ​Health​,​ ​tea​ ​is​ ​associated​ ​with​ ​a​ ​lower​ ​risk​ ​of​ ​depression.​ ​


Tea is​ ​incredibly​ ​rich​ ​in​ ​antioxidants​ ​and​ ​contains​ ​an​ ​amino​ ​acid​ ​known​ ​as L​ ​theanine.​ ​

According​ ​to​ ​the​ ​studies,​ ​it​ ​is​ ​shown​ ​to​ ​stimulate​ ​the production​ ​of​ ​brain​ ​waves​ ​called​ ​alpha​ ​waves,​ ​the​ ​waves​ ​seen​ ​when a​ ​person​ ​is​ ​in​ ​a​ ​relaxed​ ​state.​ ​

It​ ​also​ ​helps​ ​to​ ​increase​ ​the​ ​levels​ ​of serotonin​ ​and​ ​dopamine-​ ​neurotransmitters​ ​in​ ​the​ ​brain​ ​that​ ​can affect​ ​the​ ​mood.​ ​

Experts​ ​recommend​ ​having​ ​3-4​ ​cups​ ​of​ ​green,black or​ ​oolong​ ​tea​ ​to​ ​de​ ​stress​ ​and​ ​enhance​ ​your​ ​mood.

​7. Red​ ​wine:​ ​​It​ ​is​ ​a​ ​well​ ​known​ ​fact​ ​that​ ​having​ ​​red​ ​wine​​ ​in​ ​moderation is​ ​supposed​ ​to​ ​be​ ​good​ ​for​ ​our​ ​health​ ​but​ ​now,​ ​a​ ​study​ ​published​ ​in the​ ​journal​ ​​BMC​ ​Medicine​​ ​suggest​s ​that​ ​it​ ​may​ ​also​ ​reduce​ ​the​ ​risk​ ​of depression.​ ​

red wine

Red​ ​wine​ ​contains​ ​antioxidants​ ​called​ ​polyphenols​ ​which are​ ​known​ ​to​ ​have​ ​a​ ​positive​ ​effect​ ​on​ ​the​ ​heart.​ ​

It​ ​also​ ​contains resveratrol-​ ​a​ ​substance​ ​which​ ​lowers​ ​the​ ​risk​ ​of​ ​inflammation​ ​and damage​ ​to​ ​blood​ ​vessels.​

​Healthy​ ​heart​ ​lowers​ ​the​ ​risk​ ​of​ ​depression.

However,​ ​this​ ​does​ ​not​ ​mean​ ​if​ ​you​ ​are​ ​a​ ​non​ ​drinker​ ​you​ ​should​ ​start drinking,​ ​but​ ​it​ ​means​ ​that​ ​if​ ​you​ ​drink​ ​you​ ​can​ ​enjoy​ ​an​ ​occasional glass​ ​or​ ​two​ ​of​ ​red​ ​wine​ ​with​ ​your​ ​food​ ​to​ ​fight​ ​depression.

8. Whole​ ​grains:​ ​​Healthy,​ ​high​ ​fiber​ ​carbohydrates​ ​are​ ​found​ ​in​ ​whole grains​ ​such​ ​as​ ​oats,​ ​quinoa,​ ​brown​ ​rice,​ ​whole​ ​wheat​ ​bread​ ​etc.

whole grains

Complex​ ​Carbohydrates​ ​are​ ​very​ ​important,​ ​they​ ​give​ ​us​ ​energy​ ​and boosts​ ​our​ ​mood.​ ​

Researchers​ ​confirm​ ​that​ ​carbohydrates​ ​promote the​ ​production​ ​of​ ​serotonin.​

According to Debbie Mandel, a stress management expert and author of Addicted to Stress: “Whole grains, brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat pasta are all good choices. They help the body release serotonin.”

​9. Nuts​ ​and​ ​seeds:​​ ​All​ ​the​ ​nuts​ ​and​ ​seeds​ ​contain​ ​tryptophan.​


​Other than​ ​that,​ ​they​ ​are​ ​also​ ​rich​ ​in​ ​omega​ ​3​ ​fatty​ ​acids,​ ​fiber,​ ​vitamins, and​ ​antioxidants.​ ​

Deficiency​ ​of​ ​magnesium​ ​is​ ​correlated​ ​with depression​ ​and​ ​there’s​ ​a​ ​good​ ​reason​ ​to​ ​have​ ​cashews​ ​as​ ​they​ ​are one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​richest​ ​sources​ ​of​ ​magnesium.​ ​

Walnuts​ ​along​ ​with magnesium​ ​are​ ​also​ ​rich​ ​in​ ​essential​ ​omega​ ​fats​ ​and​ ​contain polyphenols​ ​and​ ​antioxidants,​ ​which​ ​are​ ​known​ ​to​ ​improve​ ​and maintain​ ​the​ ​health​ ​of​ ​the​ ​brain.

Brazil​ ​nuts​ ​are​ ​full​ ​of​ ​selenium,​ ​which​ ​as​ ​studies​ ​suggest,​ ​can​ ​have mood-enhancing​ ​effects.​ ​

This​ ​mineral​ ​also​ ​helps​ ​the​ ​body​ ​maintain​ ​a healthy​ ​antioxidant​ ​balance​ ​for​ ​overall​ ​health​ ​and​ ​well-being.

Seeds​ ​like​ ​sunflower​ ​seeds,​ ​pumpkin​ ​seeds,​ ​chia​ ​seeds​ ​are​ ​also​ ​very beneficial.​

​Chia​ ​seeds​ ​are​ ​supposed​ ​to​ ​be​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​healthiest​ ​seeds available.​ ​They​ ​are​ ​loaded​ ​with​ ​antioxidants​ ​and​ ​omega​ ​3​ ​fatty​ ​acids.​

It​ ​is​ ​also​ ​a​ ​rich​ ​source​ ​of​ ​magnesium​ ​along​ ​with​ ​many​ ​other​ ​healthy nutrients.​

​Antioxidants,​ ​omega​ ​3​ ​and​ ​magnesium​ ​play​ ​an​ ​important role​ ​in​ ​the​ ​overall​ ​health​ ​of​ ​the​ ​brain.​ ​Having​ ​a​ ​handful​ ​of​ ​various​ ​nuts and​ ​seeds​ ​every​ ​day​ ​can​ ​help​ ​fight​ ​depression.

Depressions​ ​affect​ ​men,​ ​women,​ ​and​ ​children​ ​in​ ​different​ ​ways.

Don’t​ ​be​ ​shy​ ​or​ ​afraid​ ​of​ ​it,​ ​just​ ​know​ ​that​ ​you​ ​are​ ​not​ ​alone.​ ​

The​ ​first​ ​step towards​ ​getting​ ​better​ ​is​ ​to​ ​know​ ​that​ ​it​ ​is​ ​fully​ ​curable​ ​no​ ​matter​ ​how​ ​bad it​ ​is.

If​ ​you​ ​think​ ​you​ ​may​ ​have​ ​depression​ ​start​ ​by​ ​making​ ​an​ ​appointment​ ​with your​ ​doctor​ ​and​ ​simultaneously​ ​making​ ​the​ ​above-mentioned​ ​changes​ ​in your​ ​lifestyle.

​About the author

Carmen can be found writing, designing and developing all sorts of great content. She is an avid reader and is currently associated with


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I'm interested in psychology & philosophy. I'm also an enthusiast of meditation & personal development. Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope that you'll find something interesting here.



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