Foods to Help Fight Depression

The foods that fight depression and keep you happy

Foods to Help Fight Depression

Depression is usually treated with therapy or medication, but what you eat can also play a role in your mental health. Though more research is needed, some studies show that certain diets may prevent or reduce the severity of depression.

«The right kind of diet may give the brain more of what it needs to avoid depression, or even to treat it once it's begun,» says Lisa Mosconi, PhD, Director of the Women's Brain Initiative at Weil Cornell Medical College and author of The XX Brain.

Here's what experts know about which foods are helpful and which may be harmful for depression. 

The connection between diet and depression

There are many different factors that contribute to depression. Some are your control, genetics or a traumatic life event. But the foods you choose to eat can also play a role. 

Because food can influence certain chemicals in the brain, serotonin, that help regulate mood. An estimated 95 percent of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract. So, it makes sense that what you eat may influence mood.

For example, a 2014 review found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet of fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains were 16 percent less ly to experience depression compared to people who followed a typical high-carbohydrate Western diet. 

The Mediterranean diet is thought to be effective against battling depression because it's rich in anti-inflammatory foods leafy greens and fish, while also cutting down on processed foods that can cause inflammation.

Inflammation is known to contribute to a number of diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer's, and certain cancers liver and cervix. How strongly inflammation contributes to depression is still unclear. But some studies, the 2014 review, suggest that keeping inflammation at bay through your diet may help prevent depression.

Foods that can help relieve depression

Your brain needs certain nutrients to produce the chemicals used to regulate your emotions, Mosconi says. Some of these helpful foods and nutrients include:

Small, oily fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring): These fish are all high in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that has been shown to reduce the severity of depression symptoms by reducing inflammation.

Turkey: Eating turkey provides you with tryptophan, an amino acid that your body uses to produce serotonin.

Cacao: Certain compounds flavanols and procyanidins, which are present in cacao in dark chocolate, can reduce inflammation in the body.

Probiotic foods: More research is needed to understand exactly how probiotics work and the different ailments they can treat.

But what researchers have found is that probiotic-containing foods yogurt and sauerkraut contain live bacteria that are helpful for balancing out your gut bacteria.

That's important when it comes to depression because these bacteria can produce chemicals that regulate your mood, such as serotonin and gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA).

Fruits and vegetables: Eating foods fruits and vegetables can be one of the most powerful ways to fight inflammation because they contain antioxidants, compounds that help protect your cells from the damage caused by inflammation. Here are some foods rich in antioxidants:

  • Walnuts and pecans
  • Berries
  • Pomegranates
  • Dark chocolate
  • Coffee and green tea
  • Herbs mint and oregano 

Foods to avoid

Many of the foods that are bad for your physical health can also affect your mental health. Below are some foods to avoid to help prevent and fight depression.

Processed foods: «Processed or deep-fried foods often contain trans fats and a variety of chemicals that can promote inflammation,» Mosconi says, adding that inflammation is a possible cause of depression, as well as other brain illnesses dementia. 

Some examples of processed foods are:

  • Meats, including bacon and sausage
  • Pre-packaged baked goods cookies
  • Instant noodle meals
  • White bread

Sugar: Eating a diet that includes a lot of sugary foods and drinks has been linked to higher rates of depression. This may be because sugar increases inflammation and can destabilize your blood sugar. When your blood sugar drops too low, you can have symptoms nervousness and inability to concentrate, while high blood sugar can cause fatigue.

Getting treatment for depression often involves therapy or medication, but watching what you eat can also play an important role in your mood. Eating a Mediterranean style diet and avoiding processed foods may help you battle depression.


Best Foods that Help Fight Depression

Foods to Help Fight Depression

Depression is the top cause of disability worldwide, affecting more than 300 million individuals annually. While depression treatment can be multifaceted, there are several steps you can take to improve your mood naturally, including eating foods for depression. 

Diet and nutrition play crucial roles in managing your well-being and boosting your energy. The best foods for depression include readily available items and produce that you may already have in your kitchen.

1. Leafy Greens

Spinach and depression may seem a strange combination, but leafy greens spinach, lettuce, swiss chard and watercress have numerous benefits that support both physical and mental health.

Leafy greens for depression contain folate, an essential ingredient in promoting healthy digestion and cardiovascular health. Most physicians recommend that pregnant women take folate throughout their pregnancy to mitigate the risk of birth defects. Additionally, leafy greens fight your body against toxins, help feed your gut and build enzymes.  

Additionally, leafy greens are a significant part of the Mediterranean diet. Research shows that people following this diet tend to lead happier and healthier lives. They are also less ly to feel depressed than people who are not on this diet.

Consider adding more leafy greens to your diet by:

  • Making more salads for lunch and dinner
  • Blending them into fruit smoothies or other juices
  • Baking them into chips, kale chips
  • Using the greens as wraps, in lettuce wraps for burgers
  • Cooking them into soups

2. Blueberries

Blueberries taste delicious, and it turns out these tiny berries are full of antioxidants, too. Antioxidants help protect your body from the free radicals that can damage your cells. They can also protect your cholesterol, lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease and even improve cognitive brain function.

Additionally, eating blueberries for depression may also have mood-boosting effects. Berries appear to have similar impacts as valproic acid, which is a mood-stabilizing medication that helps regulate emotions.

Blueberries contain the antioxidant flavonoid anthocyanin, which is associated with reduced inflammation and the risk of depression. Finally, they also contain vitamin C, which can be beneficial for reducing the negative impacts of stress.

3. Salmon

Salmon also hosts several benefits and is noted as one of the most nutritious foods in the world. For one, salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for reducing the risk of cancer and lowering blood pressure. Salmon also contains an impressive amount of protein (22-25 grams per serving), which makes it a filling, low-fat food.

Salmon also contains the antioxidant astaxanthin, which helps protect the brain and nervous system. Astaxanthin can also prevent skin damage and promote youthfulness. 

Finally, salmon works hard to fight inflammation. The relationship between inflammation and depression continues to emerge through research.

Scientific studies continue to demonstrate higher rates between higher inflammation and increased risk of depression.

This fact may also be because inflammation causes many serious diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Any of these diseases can also increase the risk of depression.

4. Oysters

Oysters and depression share a powerful relationship. Oysters contain many significant nutrients and minerals that yield great health benefits.

Oysters have high levels of important macro and micronutrients including protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, copper, manganese and selenium.

They also are rich with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with general health and well-being.

Oysters also contain very high levels of zinc. Zinc is associated with boosted immunity and faster wound-healing rates. This makes the body stronger, and it can be a powerful weapon for proper development and growth.

Finally, it has long been presumed that oysters act as an aphrodisiac. This theory ly stems from the high zinc content. Zinc has been closely associated with sexual dysfunction, and zinc deficiency can lead to symptoms related to impotence and erectile dysfunction. Thus, oysters can be a beneficial asset for one’s sexual and emotional health.   

5. Dark Chocolate

If you needed another excuse to dive into a chocolate indulgence, here you have it. Dark chocolate helps depression, and it can also help improve your overall health.

Contrary to popular belief, dark chocolate can be extremely nutritious.

A chocolate bar containing 70-85% cocoa can have 11 grams of fiber, 89% of the recommended daily intake for copper, 98% of the recommended daily intake for manganese, and 67% of the recommended daily intake for iron. 

Dark chocolate also contains exceptional levels of antioxidant activity. Some research suggests that cocoa has even higher levels than fruit (including blueberries). other healthy foods, it can also improve brain function, protect the skin from harmful sun damage, and reduce heart disease risk.

Best of all? Research in a 30-day trial showed that eating dark chocolate positively impacted mood. Here’s your permission to indulge in moderation and reap the dark chocolate depression benefits.  

6. Bananas

Bananas are a tasty and convenient snack, and bananas help depression. That’s because the fruit contains serotonin, an essential neurotransmitter that balances mood and daily functioning. Most antidepressants work to boost serotonin levels in the brain. 

That said, eating a banana doesn’t improve your mood directly. The serotonin doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier. However, bananas do contain vitamin B6, which helps the body create serotonin. You need the daily recommended amount of this vitamin to regulate your body’s serotonin production.

Additionally, bananas are packed with fiber, low in calories, and have very little fat. They are also a rich source of Vitamin C and potassium, which boosts nerve and muscle health. 

7. Walnuts

Eating walnuts for depression is a great choice. Walnuts, most of the other foods already mentioned, are also rich in antioxidant activity. Walnuts have a higher antioxidant activity than any other nut. The activity comes from a combination of polyphenols, melatonin, and vitamin E. They also have significantly more omega-3 fatty acids compared to other nuts.

Moreover, walnuts can help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce stress and depression. Walnuts also promote a healthy gut, which can improve your overall health and boost physical energy. Finally, walnuts are also associated with male fertility and sperm health. 

8. Avocados

Whether you’re smearing it on toast or whipping it into your favorite guacamole, avocados are as tasty as they are healthy. Avocado is the only fruit that provides monounsaturated fatty acids, and it also contains almost 20 minerals and vitamins vitamins B6, C, E, and K and folate, magnesium, lutein and potassium. 

If you struggle with depression and avocados seem an easy choice to eat, they’re also healthy for the heart, may help prevent osteoporosis, and can also promote healthy vision. Avocados also contain tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin. This can help promote a good mood and general well-being.

9. Sweet Potatoes

Don’t just wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy this healthy treat. Eating sweet potatoes for depression has many benefits. These potatoes have many nutrients including high levels of vitamin A, beta-carotene and fiber. They may also help stunt the growth of foodborne bacteria from harming the body.

Sweet potatoes are also rich in magnesium, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. Research shows that magnesium deficiency can result in higher levels of depression. Moreover, magnesium deficiency may also have a link to insomnia. Because sleep problems and depression can be interconnected, it is vital to make sure you have enough magnesium in your daily diet. 

10. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds may be tiny, but they are full of amazing benefits. The word chia derives from the Mayan term for strength. A single ounce serving of chia seeds boasts a staggering 22 grams of fiber, 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, 30% of the recommended daily intake of manganese and magnesium, and 27% of the recommended daily intake of phosphorus. Chia seeds are also full of antioxidants. 

When eaten regularly, they can lower the risk of heart disease, reduce blood sugar levels, and promote bone health. They can also help reduce chronic inflammation.

11. Beans

Beans and depression may also seem a strange combination, but beans, legumes and peas are all great sources of many nutrients including fiber, vitamins and protein. They are full of vital nutrients folate. They also are rich in the antioxidant, polyphenols. 

People who consume beans regularly have lower rates of stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. They also have lower rates of cancer, diabetes and problems associated with the liver.

Beans are also excellent in helping control appetite for individuals seeking to lose weight. That’s because they are packed with fiber and healthy starch- which can create fullness and stave off cravings. Moreover, beans can also promote positive gut health.

Diet and Depression

There does appear to be a working relationship between diet and depression. Eating the recommended foods above can help boost overall physical and emotional health. Below are some additional types of diets that can help with depression.

12. Mediterranean Diet

The link between eating a Mediterranean diet and depression is an interesting one, as those who follow this way of eating tend to have lower levels of depression. The Mediterranean diet primarily consists of:

  • Plant-based foods (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts)
  • Healthy fats (olive oil, avocado)
  • Herbs and spices
  • Limited red meat
  • Fish and poultry

13. Fermented Foods

There is also a pronounced relationship between fermented food and depression. Fermented foods can promote positive gut health and reduce inflammation. Fermented foods include:

  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Yogurt
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickled vegetables

14. Raw Foods

Raw foods consist of unprocessed, plant-based and whole foods. Many people also opt to choose organic foods when following this method. Raw foods consist of:

  • Raw vegetables and fresh fruits
  • Nut milks
  • Raw nuts, nut butters and seeds
  • Soaked and sprouted beans, legumes and grains
  • Purified water
  • Green food powder
  • Fermented foods

15. Antioxidants

It is important to eat a diet rich in antioxidants for depression, as it yields both physical and emotional health benefits. The foods listed above have antioxidants. Other options include:

  • Pecans
  • Goji berries
  • Cranberries
  • Cherries
  • Apples
  • Artichokes
  • Grapes
  • Tea

16. Supplements

Many people take supplements for depression. Supplements can be especially important if you have a nutrient deficiency. You should always consult with your doctor before taking any new supplement. 

Related Topic: Natural supplements for anxiety

Natural supplements for depression include:

  • Ginseng
  • St. John’s Wort
  • 5-HTP
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Tryptophan
  • Folic acid

Depression is a complex condition that can be devastating without the right care.

If you or someone you love is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction and co-occurring depression, The Recovery Village can help.

Reach out to The Recovery Village to speak with one of our team members and learn about how co-occurring disorders treatment could meet your needs.

  • SourcesThe World Health Organization. “Depression.” March 22, 2018. Accessed May 28, 2019. McQuillan, Susan. “Foods and Supplements That May Help Fight Depression.” Psycom, March 20, 2019. Accessed May 28, 2019.Leech, Joe. “10 Proven Health Benefits of Blueberries.” Healthline, October 9, 2019. Accessed May 28, 2019.Spritzler, Franziska. “11 Impressive Health Benefits of Salmon.” Healthline, December 20, 2016. Accessed May 28, 2019.Staughton, John. “8 Wonderful Benefits Of Oysters.” Organic Facts, March 6, 2019. Accessed May 28, 2019.Gunnars, Kris. “7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate.” Healthline, June 25, 2018. Accessed May 28, 2019.University Health News. “Cocoa Benefits: Mood, Anxiety, and Contentment Improve In Just 30 Days.” March 9, 2018. Accessed May 28, 2019.McCulloch, Marsha. “13 Proven Health Benefits of Walnuts.” Healthline, July 9, 2018. Accessed May 28, 2019.Ware, Megan. “12 Health Benefits of Avocado.” Medical News Today, September 12, 2017. Accessed May 28, 2019.Gunnars, Kris. “11 Proven Health Benefits of Chia Seeds.” Healthline, August 8, 2018. Accessed May 28, 2019.Butler, Natalie. “What are the health benefits of beans?” Medical News Today, November 30, 2017. Accessed May 28, 2019.


See how diet can elevate your mood

Foods to Help Fight Depression

Eating these foods may help to lift your mood, in combination with other treatments

Food provides nutrients to help your body and your brain function. In fact, your diet affects not just your physical health but your mental health. So, the next time you think, “What’s for dinner?” you might think about how your food choices might affect your mood.

Is there an optimal diet for mental health? Could you improve your mental health and possibly reduce symptoms of depression just by eating certain foods? Read on to learn more about the link between diet and depression.

How does diet affect depression?

Research into the effects of diet on depression is still ongoing, but we do know that food choices do  play a role. “Diet can have a huge impact on mood, whether it’s depression or anxiety,” notes Julie Chen, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Making Health EZ clinic in San Jose, California. 

For example, the results of a 12-week controlled trial published by BMC Medicine in 2017 found that improving a person’s diet (along with some nutritional counseling and support to help them along) was effective in reducing symptoms of moderate to severe depression.

A number of patients have told psychiatrist Leela R. Magavi, MD, the regional medical director for Community Psychiatry in California, that changing their diet improved their physical symptoms, helping them to feel more alert and energetic.

But Dr. Magavi cautions, “We need much more research to understand diet’s effects on neurotransmitters [chemicals in the brain]. Each individual may require a different, individualized diet plan his genetics, medical diagnoses, build and psychiatric symptoms.”

3 foods to eat

There isn’t a so-called “depression diet.” You can’t actually eat your way depression. But certain food choices may help improve your symptoms and help you feel better.

For example, you might go with a Mediterranean diet.

It emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and legumes—along with low-fat or fat-free dairy products and lean protein sources fish, poultry, and olive oil.

The Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy diet, but research shows that this type of dietary pattern also seems to be good for your mood and your mental health.

A 2013 study published in the journal Annals of Neurology analyzed 22 different research studies and concluded that a “high adherence” to a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of depression.

And even a “moderate adherence” to the diet helped with depression, according to the analysis.

Some specific foods to try:

  1. Fish: Certain kinds of fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce depression. Scientists are still trying to pinpoint the specific mechanism, but it does look promising. Try eating fish such as salmon, sardines, cod, mackerel, and herring.
  2. Nuts and seeds: Walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds contain significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
  3. Dark green leafy vegetables: Kale and spinach are versatile and delicious and contain lots of antioxidants. These veggies are also high in omega-3s, which may be good for your mood.

In general, eat whole foods and avoid processed foods, says Dr. Chen. She also recommends that people think about the colors of the rainbow when preparing a meal. Imagine all the possible colors of vegetables that you could choose, and let that guide your diet for depression.

3 foods to avoid

While a particular food might not trigger depression symptoms, per se, there are some foods that you might want to think twice about eating. In fact, if you reduce your consumption of certain foods that could be detrimental, you may notice a positive benefit. 

Some of the items to reduce or avoid include:

  1. Sugar: Dr. Chen and Dr. Magavi both suggest reducing your sugar intake—especially refined or added sugars. When you do eat sugar, skip the prepackaged muffins and cookies. Instead, Dr. Chen suggests going with fruit, since it has natural sugars instead of refined sugars. Plus, fruits tend to have fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients.
  2. Alcohol: Some people turn to alcohol to self-medicate when they feel down, but alcohol can actually make the situation worse. Plus, research suggests that there’s an association between alcohol dependence or alcohol use disorders and depression.
  3. Processed oils: A recent study in the journal Endocrinology found that soybean oil, which is widely used in fast food and packaged foods, seems to affect a part of the brain that could lead to neurological conditions depression and anxiety.  

If you notice that other foods seem to trigger symptoms, make a note in a food journal so you can avoid them or approach them with caution in the future.

Other ways to manage depression

Making healthy changes to your diet for depression is one way to support your health and well-being, but there are some other ways to help you manage your depression.

1. Exercise 

Research shows that non-pharmacological therapies exercise can complement medication as a treatment for depression. And in fact, exercise can reduce depression symptoms. You definitely don’t have to become an Olympic athlete, either, to reap the benefits of exercise. “It’s just important to move your body,” Dr. Chen says. 

Choose something that you find enjoyable, start slowly and ramp up gradually. If you’re newly diagnosed with depression, you may feel too overwhelmed to start a regular exercise routine, and that’s okay. Your doctor may also suggest taking medication first until you’re ready to add in an exercise routine.

2. Sleep 

Many people with depression also have disordered sleep. And conversely, many people with sleep disorders struggle with symptoms of depression.

Research shows that insomnia is definitely a risk factor for depression. If you’re not sleeping well, talk to your doctor about addressing the problem.

If you can improve the amount and quality of sleep you’re getting, you may find your mood beginning to lift.

3. Vitamins and supplements

Eating a healthy diet can ensure that you get the nutrients that you need, but some people may also benefit from taking certain vitamins or supplements. (Be sure to discuss it with your healthcare provider before taking them.) Consider the benefits of:

  • Vitamin D: Research shows many people have low levels of Vitamin D and many of them are members of groups at elevated risk for depression. Research into how it may help is still ongoing, but if you’re not getting enough, your doctor might recommend taking a vitamin D supplement.  Over-the-counter Vitamin D3 2000 IU a day is a good dose to take.
  • Vitamins A, C, and E: A 2012 study found that people with low blood serum levels of these vitamins who took supplements experienced improvements in their depression and anxiety. These vitamins contain antioxidants which may help to reduce symptoms of depression by fighting off free radicals that can lead to oxidative stress.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: If you’re already eating a lot of fish, you may be getting omega-3s, but you can also take a supplement, notes Dr. Magavi.
  • Zinc: A growing number of studies have found that depressed people may have lower levels of zinc.

4. Medication

For many people with depression, taking an antidepressant medication is a critically important step in managing their symptoms. No matter how well they eat or how much they exercise, they need that medication to alter the levels or activity of chemicals called neurotransmitters in their brains.

“Diet plans and herbal supplements cannot take the place of prescription antidepressants and should only be used as adjunct therapies,” Dr. Magavi says. “Natural remedies could possibly bolster mood and wellness, but do not comprehensively target the root of depression.”

If you take antidepressant medication, be mindful of potential food-drug interactions.

An older type of antidepressant known as an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) may interact with a component called tyramine, which is in foods processed meat, aged cheeses, chocolate, beer, and red wine.  Avocados and some citrus fruits are also high in tyramine.

It can cause a sharp spike in blood pressure. MAOI medications are rarely prescribed these days.  If you are on an antidepressant medication, ask your physician or pharmacist if it is an MAOI.


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Foods to Help Fight Depression

You are what you eat so it’s not surprising a doctor will advise a proper diet to address everything from heart disease to obesity.

The same concept applies to mental health, with nutritional psychiatry — still a somewhat niche area in medicine — focusing on certain foods to boost mood and prevent or reduce problems anxiety and depression.

That’s because the gut and the brain are uniquely connected, said Dr. Uma Naidoo, director of nutritional and lifestyle psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

People don’t think about it because the brain and the gut are housed in different parts of the body, but the two are joined by the vagus nerve, which carries signals between them, leading to a lifelong “gut-brain romance,” she writes in her new book, “This Is Your Brain on Food: An Indispensable Guide to the Surprising Foods that Fight Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and More.”

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Medications used for depression and anxiety, for example, often work through serotonin receptors, most of which are found in the gut. That’s why Naidoo — who is a prescribing psychiatrist, a nutritionist and a trained chef — also gives her patients mental health advice from a food perspective.

“I’m not opposed to medications, I just think that nutrition is having an additional piece of armor that you can fend off depression, anxiety and other symptoms,” she told TODAY.

“We all have to eat. Why not eat in a way that’s going to help our brain?”

Here is a sample of food-as-mental-health-medicine that may surprise you:

Yogurt: It contains active cultures that provide a probiotic benefit — they promote the good bacteria in your gut, some of which can boost levels of certain brain chemicals that may help relieve depression, Naidoo noted. Be sure to avoid yogurt with added sugar — go for the plain kind and add berries or a sprinkle of cinnamon. Fermented foods miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles and kefir provide a similar benefit.

When the good bugs in your gut thrive, they will help you feel emotionally better, Naidoo said.

Turmeric: the spice and its active ingredient, curcumin, make an appearance in Naidoo’s book over and over again. “Simply put, it adjusts brain chemistry and protects brain cells against toxic damage that leads to depression,” she writes. Add it to a smoothie or soup, or sprinkle it in a salad dressing as an easy way to incorporate it in your diet.

A caveat: Naido cautioned people can’t eat their way feeling depressed, so food may only be one part of treatment that could also include active therapy and medication.

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SMASH: That’s an acronym for salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring — all foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are “crucial to mental health,” Naidoo noted: “They are powerful mediators of brain health just by their action.”

Mediterranean diet: With its focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans and olive oil, it naturally includes a plethora of “depression-busting” foods, she writes.

Chamomile tea: Known for its sedative effect, Naidoo suggested sipping one to three cups of it a day, with the last cup consumed in the early evening. Check with your doctor first if you’re taking blood thinners, painkillers or other sedatives.

Tart cherries, in juice or fruit form: They promote sleep and the fruit can be bought frozen if not available fresh. Naidoo suggested having it as a snack in the evening or making it into a beverage. She didn’t necessarily advise buying bottled tart cherry juice, which may be processed and contain added sugar.

Omelet in the evening: “It may sound odd, but if you’re really struggling with sleep, having eggs, adding in some asparagus or broccoli to that, even some sunflower seeds, all of those come together to be really good for sleep because they’re rich in melatonin,” Naidoo said.

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Hot or sweet peppers: They contain luteolin, a type of flavonoid — a natural plant chemical — that may help restore sharp thinking. Fresh peppermint, parsley, dried Mexican oregano and artichokes are other good sources.

Go for pistachios: Naidoo recommends eating about a quarter cup a day of these or other nuts, including walnuts and almonds, after reviewing research that found they enhanced sexual desire, arousal and satisfaction.

Avoid black licorice: The roots of the licorice plant contain glycyrrhizic acid, which is associated with lower testosterone levels. “Probably don’t have it on an evening when you have a date,” Naidoo said, noting that aside from candy, it can be found in teas and some chewing gums. “These are things people may not realize are impacting them.”

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