Mood boosting foods are no myth – from fruits and veggies to dark chocolate, certain foods can help you feel good while being good-for-you. And now you can add to that list foods rich in those important Omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Fight Depression
Recent research shows that intake of Omega-3 fatty acids may help ease and treat symptoms of depression. In one study, researchers pooled the results of more than a dozen studies and found that for patients with major depressive disorder, taking Omega-3 supplements with higher doses of Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) with antidepressants boosted the benefits.
In another study, depressed patients who also had high inflammation levels found they benefited from taking the omega-3 fatty acid EPA, which has been shown to reduce inflammation. They improved more with EPA, supporting the idea that anti-inflammatory therapy can help treat inflammation-driven major depressive disorder.
How to Boost Your EPA/DHA Intake
So what can you do to boost your EPA/DHA intake? Eat more fish, the main source for both EPA and DHA. Omega-3s from non-fish sources like nuts and flaxseeds are higher in Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and conversion to EPA and DHA is limited. Eat more:
- Anchovies, Herring, and Sardines – Anchovies are classic in Caesar salad and on pizza.
- Salmon – Grilled, baked, poached, and cured or smoked on a bagel works, too.
- Bluefin or Albacore Tuna – Yes, sushi counts, as does a healthy Nicoise salad.
- Mussels – Delicious steamed in white wine with butter, shallots, and parsley.
- Trout – Try whole grilled, stuffed with your favorite herbs and slices of lemon.
- Caviar/Fish Roe – It’s ok to splurge if it’s for your health and well-being, right?
- Oysters – Shucked raw or oysters Rockefeller, if you’re feeling fancy.
- Mackerel – Simply grilled with olive oil and lemon is surprisingly tasty.
If you’re not much of a seafood lover or prefer an easier way of getting the recommended amount, a supplement like VitaMedica’s Super EPA/DHA Fish Oil, formulated with 500 mg of EPA and 250 mg of DHA can boost your Omega-3 levels. The total Omega-3 content of 750 mg is similar to that found in a 3 oz. serving of Coho salmon.
But know that not all fish oils are the same. A high quality fish oil supplement is an absolute must because omega-3 content can vary wildly across different brands, the fish they use can be high in harmful mercury, and depending on the manufacturing process, you might experience an unpleasant aftertaste or fishy burps.
While depression is one of the most common mental health conditions and difficult to treat because it’s so individualized, with the right balance of modern medicine and good nutrition, you can have good health and a good mood.
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.