Lifting your spirits might be as easy as adding more beans and other fiber-rich foods to your plate. A study published in the journal Nutrition in October 2018 found that people who reported eating the most fiber overall (including from cereal grains, vegetables and fruits) had fewer depressive symptoms. The data came from 16,807 American adults enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The study suggests that consuming at least 21 grams of fiber daily is the magic mark for reducing depression risk, though Americans typically eat only about 15–18 g. Where does this mood-boosting benefit come from? It could be that high-fiber foods provide an arsenal of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that improve brain function. Dietary fiber can also improve the microorganisms in our gut, and a growing body of research suggests that these critters may play a role in brain health. So you can feel especially good about eating high-fiber foods.

Fiber Food Chart

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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