If you want to get more nutrition into your body while also helping with your mental health, superfoods are an excellent place to start. They are good for you, easy to add to meals for a well-balanced diet, and will increase your vitamins and minerals considerably. Here are some of the best superfoods for anxiety and depression.
Superfoods for Anxiety
The first category of mental illness that superfoods can be ideal for is anxiety. Many doctors will recommend changing your diet if you suffer from anxiety, whether it is general worry or an actual anxiety disorder. With anxiety, you typically have a general feeling of worry and unease, often not brought on by anything.
There are different anxiety disorders you may suffer from, like generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, panic disorder, or a phobia like agoraphobia. Regardless of what it is, your diet could be helping or hurting you. Here are some superfoods that have been known to help with anxiety.
It is not unusual that dark chocolate would be recommended as a superfood for anxiety. It is considered a superfood because it is filled with lots of essential nutrients, primarily with the antioxidants it has. Dark chocolate helps with anxiety thanks to the nutrients that help to reduce cortisol in the body. This is a stress hormone that leads to stress and anxiety symptoms, so a little dark chocolate is great for you.
However, before you grab any dark chocolate off the shelf, make sure it doesn’t have added milk or sugar. It should be fairly traded and organic, without a lot of additives. The sugar can actually make your anxiety worse, so you want to avoid it as much as possible. Dark chocolate with cacao of 60% or higher is usually recommended.
One of the best vegetables to have when you suffer from anxiety is asparagus. This green vegetable has a mild taste so that it tastes good with a lot of different meats and veggies. It is rich in folic acid and B vitamins, making it a superfood that is good for general health. The folic acid, also called folate, is what is going to help with anxiety. Folic acid has been linked to lower levels of anxiety and reducing panic attacks in people who suffer from panic disorder.
Seaweed is a really important superfood, so try to add it to your diet if you can. Seaweed contains a good amount of magnesium, which can help reduce your anxiety and stress symptoms. Seaweed has many other nutrients as well, similar to those found in whole grains. It is low in fat and helps with general wellness, including mental illness. It is also a really good option if you are sensitive to gluten.
If you struggle with anxiety, you should definitely give acai berries a try. These are one of the most popular superfoods for everyone, from those trying to lose weight to people who have stress, anxiety, or depression. Acai berries are often found in packets which have the acai berries to add to smoothies, juice, and other recipes.
A really good option is to make yourself a smoothie bowl that includes acai berries, fruits, a cream base like yogurt or milk, and veggies if you want. These are fun, delicious smoothies that are a little thicker and tend to include more superfood ingredients.
The last superfoods to try if you have anxiety is almonds. While many nuts have a lot of nutrients and fit in the superfood category, almonds specifically are good for anxiety and panic attacks. This is due to the zinc in almonds, which is good for balancing your moods. Many people have anxiety as a result of heightened stress, so when you can manage your stress with more zinc in your diet, it might reduce your triggers and help with your anxiety.
Almonds are also a good source of iron and various other healthy fats, which everyone should have more of. The iron in almonds further help with lack of energy and brain fatigue, both of which can also trigger your anxiety or panic attacks.
Superfoods for Depression
The next mental health illness we want to discuss is depression. This is also a mental health condition where doctors and therapists often recommend changing your diet because of the large impact it can have on you.
Approximately 16 million people in the United States alone have depression, but that doesn’t even include the estimated 350 million people worldwide suffering from it, according to the World Health Organization. This is a massive amount of people struggling with the feelings of hopelessness, sorrow, and sadness on a regular basis, often with no triggers or warning signs.
There are a lot of people out there with depression, but changing your diet can be the first start to helping manage it. First of all, you want to avoid certain things that can make your depression worse, including high amounts of sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. Next, try to add more of the following superfoods to your diet.
The first superfood you can try for your depression is maca powder, which comes from the maca root. This is a root that grows mostly in Peru, but you can get the powdered or dried forms of it internationally. Maca powder is very nutritious, and often on many superfoods lists because of how many different vitamins and minerals it contains.
Maca is a type of adaptogen, so it is going to help reduce your stress levels. Since stress is often linked to both depression and anxiety, this makes it an excellent superfood to start with. It will also help with energy and stamina, both of which decline greatly during depressive episodes. Other nutrients that maca powder has are potassium, magnesium, calcium, many B vitamins, vitamins C and E, and iron. It also has some selenium and zinc in it for good measure.
Citrus fruits in general are often at the top of superfoods lists, including lemons, oranges, and grapefruits. With oranges, you are also getting a fruit that has health benefits for people with depression and other mental health conditions.
Oranges have a high amount of vitamin C and antioxidants, which provide natural anti-depressant qualities when you eat enough of them. There are also complex sugars (the good kind of sugar), in addition to folate and various other vitamins and minerals. The vitamin C is the important nutrient in oranges, because it can help boost your serotonin and dopamine levels, which help people who suffer from depression.
Just about every form of coconut can be beneficial if you have depression. This includes everything from drinking coconut milk or water, to cooking with coconut oil or even coconut butter. Coconut is a type of fruit that grows in tropical areas. People use all different parts of the coconut to make oil, water, or milk, since they all contain a lot of nutrients.
Coconuts have plenty of potassium, lots of electrolytes, and plenty of protein and fiber. Many people with depression struggle with side effects that are more physical, affecting their skin and nervous system. The nutrients in coconut meat can be very helpful for these individuals. Overall, it is great for general wellness and mental health disorders like depression.
If you are looking for a superfood to help with depression that also has a lot of fiber and protein, lentils are a good option for you. Lentils are a superfood thanks to the large amount of nutrients combined, including iron, folate, fiber, manganese, and protein. The phosphorous and manganese helps to give your mood a natural boost and give you more energy, both of which are affected by depression.
You can also get higher levels of serotonin and dopamine in your system form many of the nutrients found in lentils. Lentils are easy to add to your meals, whether you are making soup or chili, or using them as a side dish.
The last superfood on the list for depression is spirulina. This is one of the more unique and lesser known superfoods on the list. Spirulina is a type of blue green algae. It is made up almost completely of protein, nearly three times more that poultry or fish. Spirulina also has no cholesterol, but lots of nutrients like omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, beta carotene, iron, and antioxidants.
When you have depression, you are often lacking in both strength and energy. It zaps nearly everything you have, making it hard just to get out of bed. Foods like spirulina are perfect when this is one of your biggest side effects of depression.