Mental Health Month

Eating These 9 Foods Could Help Improve Your Overall Mental Health

New studies show eating dark chocolate can help reduce stress and improve both memory and mood.

May is Mental Health Month. Throughout the month we will bring you stories about mental health and the importance of breaking surrounding stigmas, as well as highlighting those who live with related conditions and are advocating awareness.

If you've got a sweet tooth, you're probably well aware that dark chocolate has the potential to lower your blood pressure, protect your heart health, and improve insulin resistance. But, as we enter the second half of Mental Health Month, you'll be especially excited to hear that two new studies, presented at the April 2018 Experimental Biology annual meeting, suggest that eating dark chocolate can also boost mental health

Eating dark chocolate containing at least 70 percent cacao can help reduce stress and improve both memory and mood, all while reducing inflammation and boosting immunity, Psychology Today reports. Yet, while these new findings offer chocolate lovers another excuse to indulge themselves, there are many other foods that also contain nutrients to boost brain development. Here are 10 superfoods you should add to your diet to support mental health

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1. Blueberries

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Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and polyphenolics, which have been known to improve short-term memory and concentration. Such benefits also extend to delaying the onset of age-related conditions, such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease, as the antioxidants provided clear away toxins that accumulate in the brain, thereby supporting clear thinking.

2. Tea

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According to several studies, both black and green tea provide antioxidants that help prevent cognitive decline and memory loss, while also boosting reaction time and improving mood. Black tea alone has the capacity to produce calming and stimulating effects, which lead to better concentration and memory, thereby improving mental health in the present and for the future.

3. Pomegranates

Bursting with antioxidants, pomegranates and pomegranate juice are among the best foods for boosting brain health. Beyond their capacity to alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, pomegranates help the whole body — they protect your kidneys and liver, boost your immune system, and help reduce allergic responses, among other benefits — improving overall well-being.

4. Walnuts

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From polyunsaturated fats to omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts offer an abundance of nutrients that promote sustained mental health. Numerous studies agree that even just a handful of walnuts per day will improve memory function, cognitive abilities, and concentration. Vitamin E also prevents mental decline in older individuals, which could aid age-related degeneration.

5. Sage

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While herbs aren't the first line of defense for most, researchers in Britain discovered that sage might help slow or prevent the development of Alzheimer's disease. According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, sage protects genetic material from damage and might also stimulate DNA repair in previously damaged cells, 

6. Avocados

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Because avocados are high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K, this superfood promotes better brain function by reducing your chances for age-related brain health problems, such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia, down the road. Vitamin E also helps people improve memory, attention span, and cognitive abilities over time.

7. Tomatoes

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Tomatoes contain Lycopene, an antioxidant that helps maintain optimal brain health over time. Lycopene enables the human body to fight off the damage caused by free radicals, which ultimately lead to age-related decline in mental capabilities. By eating Lycopene-rich tomatoes, people can improve memory, attention span, and logic.

8. Salmon

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While most American diets are high in trans and saturated fats, which negatively affect the brain, the omega-3 fatty acids found in "oily" fishes can reduce symptoms tied to schizophrenia, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other such mental conditions. Omega-3 fatty acids also have the potential to boost learning and memory.

9. Ginger

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When suffering from an upset stomach, people often turn to ginger ale to settle their nausea. As it turns out, ginger may also lessen the formation of inflammation in the brain. According to a study in the journal Life Sciences, ginger offers protection against free radicals, which have the potential to be a serious threat to brain health

Cover image via David Tran I Unsplash

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