Diet and Depression: How Food Can Help with Depression Symptoms

Medical Reviewer:

Food That May Improve Depression Symptoms

What you eat can affect your mood -- positively and negatively. For example, getting enough of certain types of food, like beans and fish, may help you manage depression symptoms. But getting too much sugar, bread, and pasta may lower your mood.

"There aren't any specific foods that fight depression," says Marjorie Nolan Cohn, RD, CDN, a national spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and author of The Belly Fat Fix and Overcoming Binge Eating For Dummies.

The best thing you can do is eat healthy, Cohn says. "An overall healthy and balanced diet that provides the body with all the essential nutrients can help when someone is depressed."

However, some research has shown that certain foods may affect mood:

Common Foods That May Make Your Depression Worse


All kinds of beans -- such as pinto, garbanzo, black -- are rich in folate, the naturally occurring B vitamin. Folate, or folic acid, plays an important role in how the brain works. Your brain needs folic acid to make certain essential compounds and neurotransmitters. These carry messages from one area of your brain to another.

A study in The American Journal of Psychiatry in December 2012 found that certain patients with major depressive disorder responded better to antidepressants when additional folate was included in their treatment.

And although it still isn't clear whether folate is an effective treatment for depression, getting enough of this important vitamin is part of an overall healthy diet. Other sources of folate (folic acid) include:

  • asparagus,
  • spinach,
  • avocado,
  • broccoli,
  • fortified breakfast cereal,
  • eggs, and
  • tomato juice.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/13/2016

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