This is a guest post written by Casey Wheeler.
Eating as few as two tomatoes a week can reduce your chances of developing depression by a whopping 50 percent, a new study suggests.
Chinese and Japanese researchers from Tianjin Medical University evaluated the mental health of more than 950 elderly participants, an appropriate target group since experts say those 70 and older typically have an increased likelihood of depression thanks to factors such as declining health and loneliness.
Researchers found that participants who consumed two to six lycopene and antioxidant-rich tomatoes or tomatoes products every week reduced their depression risk by 52 percent. Researchers aren’t sure exactly why this is the case, but they predict that the antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress or damage to healthy brain cells, promoting better mental stability.
But tomatoes aren’t the only food that has been said to help decrease your risk of developing depression over the years. While the foods listed below shouldn’t replace anti-depression medication, research has shown that they can act as mood enhancers which can be exceptionally useful during the colder, wintry months when seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D) is at a high.
That said, make sure to turn to these foods when you need a little mood boost.
Walnuts & Flaxseeds
Countless numbers of studies have positively connected the correlation between Omega-3 fatty acids and mental health. Omega 3’s directly affect serotonin levels, the chemicals in our brain that make us feel “happy.” Some research even suggests that omega 3’s can positively change the cell membranes in the brain.
Higher concentrations of omega 3’s are typically found in fatty fish, but they are also strongly present in plant sources such as flax seeds and walnuts. You can throw a handful of flax seeds in your morning granola or add them to a variety of baked goods. You can also throw a handful of walnuts in your afternoon salad. Small traces of omega 3’s can also be found in cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
This vitamin-c fortified fruit not only helps build your immune system so that you can fight off cold and flu viruses, but it can also help fight off the blues. That’s because oranges are great sources of a folate, a B vitamin.
Previous studies have found that those who suffer with folate deficiencies typically also suffer with depression, especially the elderly. A single orange has about 50 mcg of folate. Store-bought orange juice typically has an extra dose of fortified folate called folic-acid.
Health experts know that the antioxidants found in green tea can help prevent many illnesses such as cancer, but theanine–a natural amino acid found in green tea leaves–can also work as an instant anti-stress agent.
Theanine, on the other hand, is not present in other caffeinated drinks such as coffee which often has the reverse affect and increase tension levels. Enjoying a cup of warm or iced green tea after a meal can also help digestion.
Lastly but certainly not least is dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has mood-enhancing properties that can help promote the release of serotonin and reduce the levels of stress hormones in your system.
But remember: consume in moderation. Chocolate is very calorie-dense and if you tend to be an emotional eater chocolate can be damaging instead of helpful.
About the Author
Casey Wheeler is a freelance writer. Though she mainly contributes to Onlinepsychologydegree.net and focuses on mental health issues, she also likes covering diet and fitness topics as well. She welcomes your comments and questions below.
Image courtesy of Jeanne Claire Maarbes / FreeDigitalPhotos.net