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Antioxidants for Depression

A colorful diet of polyphenols can improve mental health.

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Vegetables containing antioxidants for depression

COVID-19, politics, doom-scrolling: There are many reasons why America’s mental health has taken a hit lately. Perhaps a way to “color yourself happy” lies in the not-yet-trendy high polyphenol diet that contains antioxidants for depression symptoms.

Researchers at Queens University Belfast discovered that adults ages 40–65 who followed a diet high in polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) from colorful foods like berries and leafy greens for 8 weeks reported fewer depressive symptoms and scored higher for physical and mental health than those placed on a low-polyphenol diet. The survey reported no differences in anxiety, stress or self-esteem between the groups.

Dietary polyphenols may affect behavior and mood through several different molecular and cellular pathways. For instance, antioxidants may reduce brain oxidative stress and inflammation. So, yes, eat the rainbow . . . and be happy about it!

See also: Your Brain on Plant Chemicals

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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