If you don’t really think about it, the phrase “you are what you eat” can seem, well, dumb. But in all actuality, there’s something to say about that age-old warning. As scientists have come to find, we really are what we eat in more ways than one, and that includes your mental health.

We all know that if we continuously eat hamburgers and ice cream, we will gain weight and probably experience other physical problems. But what about the effect on your brain? Have you ever thought about experiencing depression or anxiety from this diet? 

In addition to the physical changes your body will undoubtedly endure from a poor diet, there are mental issues that can be fueled by certain dietary choices. Here are a few foods that will help (or prevent) depression and anxiety. 

Fatty Fish

smoked salmon, salmon steak, sushi, lemon, meat, steak, sashimi, trout, fillet, seafood, fish, salmon
Jonathan Chan

Don’t let the “fatty” confuse you—it’s the good kind of fat I’m talking about here. Fatty fish, like salmon, are filled with omega-3 fatty acids which promote memory and learning, while also reducing depression symptoms.

Passionflower Tea

First used by Native Americans in the Southern U.S., passionflower tea has anti-anxiety benefits. Its efficacy has even been tested to show that it’s nearly as effective as anti-anxiety drugs. It’s great before bed or for general anxiety prevention.


malabar spinach, lettuce, basil, salad, vegetable, spinach
Krista D'Archi

Whether grilled or raw, leafy greens like spinach (as well as broccoli or Romaine) are rich with folic acid. High levels of folate in your body means less chance of depression or insomnia. “Eat your vegetables” takes on a whole new meaning.


Rachel Davis

Turkey, as well as chicken, peanut butter and nuts, are great foods that can make you feel less anxious. Why? Because they have a chemical, tryptophan, that triggers a release of serotonin which makes you feel calm. Whoever said a simple turkey sandwich couldn’t work miracles?


pasture, sweet, berry, strawberry
Becky Hughes

Besides being tasty, berries have one invaluable thing: antioxidants. Antioxidants are huge in combatting inflammation in the body which could lead to heart disease, diabetes or cancer. They’re perfect for preventing depression, too.

The moral of the story is that food can be much more than just delicious, scrumptious or heavenly. It’s nutritious effects can keep you free of mental health issues while also keeping the rest of your body in tip top shape. So, eat up.