Nutrition has an undoubted role to play in maintaining and supporting every aspect of our health, and so including plenty of nutrient-dense foods in the daily diet offers many potential benefits. New and ongoing research suggests certain nutrients, individual foods and eating patterns might be linked with mood disorders and could play a supporting role in mental well-being.
Five top food for promoting good mood specifically for men
Walnuts are a notable source of key nutrients that support a range of functions, from heart health to mood, but on a more practical level, they are versatile, portable and easy to find in shops. As one of the best plant food sources of omega-3s, they are the only tree nut that is an excellent source of ALA.
A study published in Nutrients found that walnut consumption may help improve mood in men. Non-depressed healthy, young men showed a 27% reduction in overall mood disturbances after eating a walnut-enriched diet.
Spinach is a go-to green vegetable as it is rich in vitamins A, C and K as well as magnesium and manganese. Spinach is a notable source of folate, which is the naturally occurring form of folic acid, found in supplements.
Folate is a B-vitamin that is required by the body to carry out many processes for normal health. Low folate status has been linked to depression, with some studies suggesting nearly 30% of severely depressed patients have folate deficiency.
Achieving adequate folate intakes may improve clinical outcomes in certain mental health conditions.
All berries are a good source of polyphenols, and so including raspberries, strawberries and blackberries in the diet is a tasty way to benefit from a variety of polyphenols. But you may want to favour blueberries as they contain twice as many polyphenols than the others.
Polyphenols are plant compounds that may play a role in a variety of diseases and health outcomes. As causative factors for major mood disorders are thought to be inflammation, autoimmune tissue damage and prolonged psychological stress, there is an accumulating body of evidence suggesting neuroprotection and reduced risk of depression when dietary polyphenols are included in the diet.
Many of the overall benefits of a healthy diet can be encapsulated by what is termed the ‘Mediterranean diet’. This way of eating offers an abundance of nutrients ranging from vitamin A to zinc, via fibre and polyphenols too. Research shows that following the Mediterranean diet can help offset some mood disorders too.
In fact, following a Mediterranean diet showed a 32% reduction in the risk of depression. The Mediterranean diet is characterised by high intake of vegetables, fruits, cereals, pulses, and nuts – including walnuts.
 Larrieu T, Layé S. Food for mood: Relevance of nutritional omega-3 fatty acids for depression and anxiety. Frontiers in Physiology. 2018;9:1047.
Grosso G, Galvano F, Marventano S, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids and depression: scientific evidence and biological mechanisms. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2014;2014:313570.
Omega-3 fatty acids. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements website. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/. Last updated August 4, 2021. Accessed January 3, 2022.
Lucas M, Mirzaei F, O’Reilly EJ, et al. Dietary intake of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids and the risk of clinical depression in women: a 10-y prospective follow-up study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;93(6):1337-1343.
 Pribis P. Effects of Walnut Consumption on Mood in Young Adults-A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2016;8(11):668. doi:10.3390/nu8110668
 Zinc. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements website. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/t. Last Updated December 7, 2021. Accessed January 4, 2022.
Wang J, Um P, Dickerman BA, Liu J. Zinc, magnesium, selenium and depression: A review of the evidence, potential mechanisms and implications. Nutrients. 2018;10(5):584.
 Folate. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements website. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/. Last Updated March 29, 2021. Accessed January 4, 2022.
Lam NSK, Long XX, Li X, et al. The potential use of folate and its derivatives in treating psychiatric disorders: A systematic review [published online ahead of print, 2021 Dec 22]. Biomed Pharmacother. 2021;146:112541.
 Bajpai A, Verma AK, Srivastava M, Srivastava R. Oxidative stress and major depression. J Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8(12):CC04-CC7.
Bayes J, Schloss J, Sibbritt D. Effects of polyphenols in a mediterranean diet on symptoms of depression: A systematic literature review. Adv Nutr. 2020;11(3):602-615.
Sarubbo F, Moranta D, Pani G. Dietary polyphenols and neurogenesis: Molecular interactions and implication for brain ageing and cognition. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2018;90:456-470.
Grace MH, Warlick CW, Neff SA, et al. Efficient preparative isolation and identification of walnut bioactive components using high-speed counter-current chromatography and LC-ESI-IT-TOF-MS. Food Chem. 2014;158:229–238.*
Vinson JA, Cai Y. Nuts, especially walnuts, have both antioxidant quantity and efficacy and exhibit significant potential health benefits. Food Funct. 2012;3(2):134–140.
 Lassale C, Batty GD, Baghdadli A, et al. Healthy dietary indices and risk of depressive outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Mol Psychiatry. 2019;24(7):965-986.
Ventriglio A, Sancassiani F, Contu MP, et al. Mediterranean diet and its benefits on health and mental health: A Literature review. Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health. 2020;16(Suppl-1):156-164.
Nuts for nuts on the Mediterranean diet. Oldways website. https://oldwayspt.org/blog/nuts-nuts-mediterranean-diet. Published June 1, 2020. Accessed January 6, 2022.