Feeling blue, anxious or suffering from what feels like a perpetual bad mood?

Food can help. Good nutrition can elevate your mood. It’s not magic, but you can really improve your overall mental health by consuming more epigenetic (and anti-inflammatory) foods.

Fuel your body and mind with nutrient-rich plants. Start with dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard, dandelion. Add alliums (onions, scallions, leeks, shallots, garlic). Then fresh herbs – super foods hiding in plain sight that add flavor and nutrients to meals. And finally, versatile legumes, like chickpeas, which are high in protein, fiber, low in fat and are rich in tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin. Bonus: you’ll be feeding your gut microbes food it loves. A healthy gut is a happier you. Remember, the head is connected to the body, and what you feed your body directly affects how your mind works.

  1. Avocado Filled with vitamin K, different kinds B vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin E-12, these vitamins work to keep you feeling healthy and energized. High in fat – good, plant-based fats – fiber and protein, avocados are brain food.
  2. Mushrooms Delicious and wonderfully diverse, mushrooms promote healthy gut bacteria. The nerve cells in our gut manufacture 80-to-90 percent of our body’s serotonin. Try my favorite: shiitake.
  3. Fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants, fiber, folic acid and B vitamins Tomatoes are full of folic and alpha lipoic acids. Many studies show a folate deficiency in people suffering from depression. Berries, apples, bananas and oranges are high in antioxidants, critical in preventing and repairing oxidation damage and stopping inflammation on the cellular level. Chronic inflammation makes us feel bad in all over. Fruit is also full of soluble fiber, which is good at balancing blood sugar swings.
  4. Seeds Flaxseeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds are especially good for your mood because they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  5. Walnuts Walnuts are one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Many studies show that omega-3 fatty acids are key to healthy brain function and helping with depression. Walnuts are also high in selenium, which has been shown to decrease depression.

Writer, producer, and content creator Tania Van Pelt is an expert on diet-related wellness. She is the author of “The Ageless Diet: Your Fountain of Youth,” and the related AgelessDietLife.com. She empowers people to chart a course through the health and wellness noise and reimagine a life full of nourishment, sustainable vitality and fun.