How food may affect your mood

Expert Mila Casanova argues that food may affect your mood and can lead to anxiety and depression

An image of some food
A selection of healthy and colourful fruit and vegetables including garlic. Image: Formulatehealth / Wikimediacommons

Beyond the nutrients or the calories, foods could influence the mood of those who consume them. 

An aspect that is given not only by the pleasure of eating something that we like, but by the effect on a brain level that certain nutrients present in food would generate.

Thus, the naturopath Mila Casanova, an expert on holistic nutrition and dissociated diet, suggests that chocolate, coffee, or bananas tend to improve mood, while sugar and processed foods are related to negative states.

Mila said: “There is more and more scientific evidence showing that diet plays an important role in brain health.”

“Specialists have established that there are ‘essential nutrients’ for the brain since their presence or deficit can promote a good mood,” she added.

Mila also affirms that our mindset is really conditioned by what we eat, and this also changes with age.

For example, it is proved that young people under 30 who ate fast-food more than three times a week reported higher levels of distress.

This is because these types of foods are rich in saturated fatty acids, fats and omega 6, which “provokes a low-grade inflammatory response in the body, which, in turn, is related to anxiety and depression”, Mila points out.

Several previous studies have established a relationship between food and the presence of depression, dementia and cognitive impairment.

“It is estimated that some nutrients act by stabilising the neuronal membranes and the cerebral nerve connections”, the nutritionist adds.

Studies in vegetarian and vegan populations, for example, show that they have a higher risk of long-term depression, especially in men, due to a lack of vitamin B12, and low iron intake, which is found especially in red meats. 

The same risk runs to those who undergo unhealthy diets to lose weight, without medical supervision.

Mila also stated that: “A lot of fat can promote states of anxiety and depression, while foods rich in antioxidants promote good mental health.”

The effects vary between young people and adults.

In the adult population, lower consumption of carbohydrates and the incorporation of more fruits and vegetables reduce anxiety and depression.

Mila emphasises that the important thing is to maintain a healthy and balanced diet in which the vitamins and minerals necessary for the proper functioning of the body are present.

We cannot claim that certain foods alone can cure depression. Nothing further from reality. 

We just want to highlight that certain food components influence the body and brain to have positive reactions that lead well-being state.

Below is a list of foods that help fight depression:


The loss of lactobacilli would be related to the first symptoms of depression.

Yoghurt naturally contains lactobacilli, so its intake would help compensate for their loss and improve mood. 

An image of a yoghurt
A bowl with yoghurt and some cashews and blackberries.
Image: Jules / Flicklr


The ability of coffee to keep us alert due to the caffeine in it is well known. This effect could also be decisive in preventing stress from turning into depression. 

It also contains other substances that have the ability to deflate nerve cells in the depressed brain, such as chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, and caffeic acid.

However, you must be very careful with your coffee intake, as it can also cause negative effects if you drink too much: anxiety, headaches, increased blood pressure, palpitations, nausea, or restlessness.

An image of coffee beans in a mug
Coffee cup with roasted coffee beans.
Image: Marco Verch / Flickr


It is a very healthy food that contains tryptophan, a substance that is involved in the production of serotonin, known as the “happiness hormone”. 

In addition to this, turkey contains healthy fats such as omega 3 and minerals like selenium and magnesium, which can help the body experience well-being. 


These foods contain very high doses of folic acid or Vitamin B9, an element that helps brain cells function optimally.

So do not hesitate to include green leafy vegetables in your daily diet to improve your mood. Some green vegetables are:

  •   Avocado
  •   Cucumber
  •   Broccoli
  •   Courgette
  •   Chards
  •   Spinach
  •   Asparagus
An image of some vegetables
Green raw healthy vegetables.
Image: Marco Verch / Flickr


The deficiency of this mineral in the body is associated with levels of stress and depression, as well as attention problems, memory difficulties and fatigue. 

Even patients who are in states of depression take magnesium supplements to compensate for the lack of it in their body. Some foods high in magnesium are:

  •   Dark chocolate
  •   Dairy products
  •   Sunflower seeds
  •   Almonds
  •   Soy
  •   Tofu
  •   Chard
An image of some chocolates
Some chocolates.
Image: Bicanski / Pixino