A study published in 2018 trawled all the current data for the 12 nutrients with the most evidence of helping reduce symptoms of depression. These are: Folate, Iron, Omega 3, Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium, B1, vitamin A, B6, B12, Vitamin C and Zinc.
They then listed the foods which have the highest amounts of these nutrients in them and there was one leafy green which came out way above all the rest......Watercress!
Other foods scoring high on their profiling system were spinach, beetroot greens, lettuces, swiss chard, peppers, kale, pumpkin. cauliflower, red cabbage and broccoli. Animal sources which scored high were mainly seafoods - in particular oysters! And fish such as salmon and trout.
They emphasised the importance of following a wholefood diet such as the Mediterranean diet with minimal processed foods.
Three potential mechanisms by which foods can impact mood disorders were discussed which are
1. Foods can help reduce inflammation
2. Nutrients in foods are needed for the expression of BDNF which is needed for neuroplasticity and growth of new brain cells.
3. Fibre rich foods are beneficial for the microbiome which have a direct connection with the brain via the gut brain axis.