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Heart-healthy snack ideas that will boost your mood

Our heads and our hearts have a lot more to do with one another than you might think. 9NEWS Nutritionist Kristin Kirkpatrick explains.

DENVER — Heart disease increases the risk for depression, and depression increases the risk for heart disease. 

What's one of the links that can negatively impact both? Poor diet.

In fact, one in five deaths is from heart disease, and all other sources are associated with poor dietary choices.

While the mention of death is scary, what's even more terrifying is the link between poor diet and mental health.  

For decades, nutritional studies have focused on chronic disease, weight loss and nutrient deficiencies. 

A few years ago, however, things shifted. Strong studies have now showcased the connection between food and mood and, a new area of science called nutritional psychiatry has emerged  

One study of almost 46,000 individuals found that individuals that improved diet by increasing nutrient density lost weight, saw a boost in mood and saw a decrease in symptoms associated with depression. 

There are studies linking dietary choices with psychological stress as well. 

2019 research found that individuals who consumed high amounts of low-nutrient junk food were more likely to have moderate to severe stress than individuals that adhered to a healthier diet. 

Here are the top foods and nutrients to boost mental health: 

  • Omega 3 fatty acids: Consume fatty wild fish at least twice a week or taking a DHA / EPA supplement 
  • Folate: Eat more folate rich foods, such as green leafy vegetables and lentils. Consider a methylated folate supplement if you have an MTHFR deficiency
  • Vitamin D: The best source of vitamin D is through a supplement. opt for D3 and consider having you D status tested to determine if you need a higher dose 
  • Probiotics
  • Fruits and vegetables  
  • Fiber
  • Fermented foods

The following are the foods that have been shown to increase symptoms of depression and anxiety: 

  • Sugar - Aim for less than 25g of added sugar per day (American heart association guidelines)
  • Processed and fast food - Studies show a dose positive relationship between fast consumption and mental health scores
  • Refined carbohydrates

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