Studies suggest eating dark chocolate can help reduce anxiety and improve symptoms of clinical depression. One study linked the cocoa flavonoids found in dark chocolate to improved memory and other health benefits. Flavonoids have anti-inflammatory properties and are a type of phytonutrient, powerful antioxidants found in plants, which help reduce cell damage.
Rather than grabbing a bag of chips on the go, choose snacks like dark chocolate and nuts, which pack more nutrients.
Aim for three to five 3-ounce servings per week.
An incredibly nutrient-dense food, eggs contain protein, B vitamins, and choline, a nutrient involved in many different processes, including cell structure and messaging and nervous system maintenance.
Aim for five to seven eggs per week.
Yogurt and kefir are full of good bugs your body needs, as well as calcium and protein. Kefir is an exceptionally potent source of nutrients and probiotics. Try throwing kefir in your morning smoothie.
Aim for three to five servings of fermented dairy per week.
Kale packs a punch, providing a tremendous amount of nutrition and phytonutrients. Spinach, watercress, arugula, collards, beet greens, and chard are other great options to help reach your daily dose of fiber; vitamins C and A, vital to the body’s healing process; and folate, which is necessary for making DNA, neurotransmitters, and the development of the nervous system.
Aim for two to three cups per day.
Even though plant-based diets provide many nutrients, meat is a good source of vitamin D, vitamin B12, omega-3 fats, and heme-iron (which increases the absorption of iron from vegetables). It’s best to choose grass-fed and pasture-raised beef and chicken, free of antibiotics and hormones.
Aim for three servings per week.
Nuts, beans, and seeds
Cashews, pumpkin seeds, and lentils are terrific sources of plant-based protein and are rich in essential vitamins. Research has linked frequent nut consumption with low inflammation. Nuts are a great snack and simple to add to foods, like a smoothie or salad.
Aim for at least ½ cup to 1 cup of nuts and or/beans per day and 1 tablespoon of seeds per day.
Rainbow fruits and vegetables
A colorful plate is a healthy plate. Tomatoes, avocados, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and berries provide phytonutrients to fight inflammation, and fiber to help the good bacteria in your gut thrive.
To help incorporate more healthy vegetables into your diet, try oven roasting them on a sheet pan with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Check out your local farmers market to see what produce calls out to you.
Aim for 2 to 3 cups per day.
Seafood is full of nutrients, including fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops are particularly good for the brain since they contain nutrients for brain health like vitamin B12, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid that reduces inflammation. Sardines, anchovies, salmon, and cod are also chock-full of brain-healthy nutrients like B12, iron, zinc, and protein. If you want to incorporate more seafood into your diet, test out a new wild salmon or cod recipe once a week.
Aim for two to four servings per week.