Eating when you’re stressed or feeling low is usually not recommended. After all, that box of doughnut holes will likely just make you feel worse (and sick on top of it all) once the sugar high wears off.

But certain foods have the power to ease anxiety and fight depression. From yogurt parfaits to burgers with sweet potato fries to chocolate (yes, chocolate!), these meals are tasty, nutritious ways to help you feel better.

A quick note: Eating one of these dishes isn’t going to instantly turn your mood around. Depression, anxiety, and chronic stress are complex medical conditions that often require significant lifestyle adjustments and support.

But if you eat these ingredients consistently, you may just notice a real improvement in your mental state. Enjoy!

1. Fortified whole-grain cereal with low fat milk and blueberries

Fights: Depression

This cereal is fortified with vitamin B, which studies have linked to good mental health.Moore K, et al. (2019). B-vitamins in relation to depression in older adults over 60 years of age: The Trinity Ulster Department of Agriculture (TUDA) cohort study. DOI: 10.1016/j.jamda.2018.11.031

Plus, research suggests people who get more vitamin D, whether it’s from milk, fortified cereal, or other foods, don’t just build strong bones — they may also be less likely to get depressed.Cuomo A, et al. (2017). Depression and vitamin D deficiency: Causality, assessment, and clinical practice implications. http://www.jneuropsychiatry.org/peer-review/depression-and-vitamin-d-deficiency-causality-assessment-and-clinical-practice-implications-12051.html

Those berries may be blue, but they might keep you from feeling that way. So grab a spoon in the morning. Even a soggy bowl says smile!

2. Banana-almond-flax smoothie

Fights: Depression and anxiety

Slurp some happiness on the go with a smoothie that does wonders for both your mental health and your taste buds. Nuts and flaxseeds are great sources of omega-3s, which may help fight depression and anxiety.

3. Buckwheat pancakes

Fights: Depression

Whether they’re for breakfast or dinner, pancakes can almost always brighten up a bad day.

And there’s science behind it: Buckwheat pancakes contain flavonoids, which may help reduce the oxidative stress that contributes to depression. Hritchu L, et al. (2017). Antidepressant flavonoids and their relationship with oxidative stress. DOI: 10.1155/2017/5762172

4. Full fat Greek yogurt with honey and granola

Fights: Depression

This positivity parfait packs a few happy ingredients. Friendly bacteria called probiotics may ease depression, making Greek yogurt a tasty way to fight the blues.Goh KK, et al. (2019). Effect of probiotics on depressive symptoms: A meta-analysis of human studies. DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2019.112568

Honey adds a spoonful of sweetness, with compounds that may fight depression, in part by reducing inflammation in your brain.Ali AM, et al. (2018). Bee honey as a potentially effective treatment for depression: A review of clinical and preclinical findings. DOI: 10.19080/JOJNHC.2018.09.555764 (Throw on some berries for extra health points!)

5. Avocado toast

Fights: Depression

This popular breakfast import hails from Australia but has since made it into just about every “it” breakfast spot in the United States.

Though it might make a big dent in millennials’ budgets, avo toast is well worth the cost for its super high fatty acid content, which helps protect both mind and heart.Mendez-Zuniga, et al. (2019). Fatty acid profile, total carotenoids, and free radical-scavenging from the lipophilic fractions of 12 native Mexican avocado accessions. DOI: 10.1007/s11130-019-00766-2

6. Warm quinoa, spinach, and shiitake salad

Fights: Depression and anxiety

This superfood-packed salad’s got all the goods! Quinoa isn’t just an awesome vegan protein source — it’s also a complex carbohydrate. These good carbs may help prevent depression and anxiety by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in your brain.

Spinach has mood-boosting B vitamins, and mushrooms are a good source of selenium, a compound that may help fight depression (although this isn’t yet solidified).Wang J, et al. (2018). Zinc, magnesium, selenium and depression: A review of the evidence, potential mechanisms and implications. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/10/5/584/htm

7. Salmon salad with vinaigrette

Fights: Depression

To keep the downer days at bay, try this salad. It’s chock-full of omega-3-rich ingredients (like salmon and olive oil) that might help prevent symptoms of depression.

Swap plain ol’ lettuce for spinach leaves to really raise its health profile.

8. Beet, citrus, and avocado salad

Boosts: Mood

Tell a bad day to beet it! This colorful concoction brightens your mood and your dining table. A bowlful of beets helps battle depression with lots of folate.Bender A, et al. (2017). The association of folate and depression: A meta-analysis. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2017.07.019

The vitamin C in citrus fruits may reduce distress, and the flavonoids in a squirt of lemon juice could be beneficial for your brain.de Oliveira IJ, et al. (2015). Effects of oral vitamin C supplementation on anxiety in students: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. DOI: 10.3923/pjbs.2015.11.18

9. Wild seaweed salad

Fights: Depression and anxiety

Vegetarians and carnivores alike can enjoy the positive feelings that come from a bowl of this snazzy salad. Seaweed’s a source of several brain-protecting substances, some of which might help fight depression.Miyake Y, et al. (2014). Seaweed consumption and prevalence of depressive symptoms during pregnancy in Japan: Baseline data from the Kyushu Okinawa Maternal and Child Health Study. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2393-14-301

Brown rice is a complex carb that’s rich in serotonin, which helps stabilize mood. The omega-3s in EVOO and the flavonoids in lemon are other uplifting components. Those are some good-tasting good vibes!

10. Poached eggs and asparagus

Fights: Depression and anxiety

Serve eggs at any time of day. They’re a good source of vitamin D, which may be important for fighting depression.Schaad KA, et al. (2019). The relationship between vitamin D status and depression in a tactical athlete population. DOI: 10.1186/s12970-019-0308-5 They also provide mood-boosting vitamin B.

Asparagus contains tryptophan, which increases levels of feel-good serotonin in your brain and helps prevent depression and anxiety.Jenkins TA, et al (2016). Influence of tryptophan and serotonin on mood and cognition with a possible role of the gut-brain axis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728667/

11. Brown rice and black beans

Fights: Depression and anxiety

Beans aren’t just good for the heart — they’re good for the mind, too, since the selenium in them may pick you back up when you’re feeling low. Plus, brown rice might help boost your mood by regulating your serotonin levels.

12. Almond-crusted barramundi fish

Fights: Depression

The name of this meal is fun to say, but that’s not all that’s great about it. Barramundi fish and almonds are excellent sources of omega-3s, which can help reduce depression and anxiety.

Serve it with a side of spinach for a dose of B vitamins, which can also help boost your mood. (Can’t find barramundi fish in your local grocery store? Try salmon instead — it’s another abundant oceanic source of omega-3s.)

13. Stir-fried kimchi with tofu

Fights: Depression

This dish may sound — and smell — a little funky, but it could do wonders for your health and mood. Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish made with pickled cabbage and other veggies.

It’s teeming with good-for-you bacteria called probiotics. These helpful critters have brain-protecting properties that may help guard against depression.Selhub EM, et al. (2014). Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: Ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry. DOI: 10.1186/1880-6805-33-2

Tofu, which is made from soybeans, has been shown to improve symptoms of depression in some studies.Messina M, et al. (2016). Evaluation of the potential antidepressant effects of soybean isoflavones. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5181104/

This healthful protein source is also versatile in recipes, because it soaks up the flavor of whatever sauce you choose to toss it with.

14. Turkey burger with sweet potato fries

Fights: Depression and anxiety

Lighten up the traditional burger and fries with a meal that’s easier on your belly and your brain.

The tryptophan in turkey increases your levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. Plus, sweet potatoes are filled with mood-boosting vitamin B-6.

15. Lentil and vegetable stew with kale

Fights: Depression

Curl up with a cup of lentil stew on a rainy day to keep things sunny inside. Kale and legumes are great sources of folate, which is important for a good mood.Nguyen B, et al. (2017). Association between blood folate concentrations and depression in reproductive aged U.S. women, NHANES (2011-2012). DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.07.019

After you slurp down your soup, go outside to jump in the puddles.

16. Walnut-miso noodles

Fights: Depression, anxiety, stress

Everything about this dish screams healthy, happy, and delicious. Whole-wheat pasta is a complex carb that increases your serotonin level, and walnuts pack omega-3s that fight depression and anxiety.Hayes D, et al. (2016). Walnuts (<em>juglans regia</em>) chemical composition and research in human health. DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2012.760516

17. Spaghetti with steamed mussels

Fights: Depression and anxiety

A balanced meal that includes carbs, protein, and fat (like this one) can stop the hangry in its tracks. Mussels — and most types of shellfish — are loaded with vitamin B-12, which is important for a good mood.Brouwer-Brolsma EM, et al. (2015). Dietary sources of vitamin B-12 and their association with vitamin B-12 status markers in healthy older adults in the B-PROOF Study. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/9/5364/htm

For maximum brain benefits, make this dish with whole-wheat pasta and extra-virgin olive oil.

18. Whole-wheat pasta with cauliflower and collards

Fights: Depression

This vegetarian pasta dish has complex carbs, which help regulate mood, plus a serving of healthy veggies. Be generous with the cauliflower — it not only tastes good but also provides vitamin B-6 and folate.

19. Braised collards with tomatoes

Fights: Depression

This picture-perfect side features B vitamins and lycopene, which may protect against depression.Chen D, et al. (2019). A review for the pharmacological effect of lycopene in central nervous system disorders. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopha.2018.12.151

Substitute cherry tomatoes for whole tomatoes, since it’s easier to eat more of the lycopene-packed skin that way.

20. Fresh corn and blue potato hash

Fights: Depression

Don’t worry — these potatoes aren’t moldy. But they are a delicious way to get happy. Blue potatoes (and their skins) are loaded with anthocyanins, nutrients that reduce inflammation in the brain.Khoo HE, et al. (2017). Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: Colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5613902/

21. Granola bars with chocolate

Fights: Depression and anxiety

These treats may look like cookies, but they’re actually a nutritious way to perk up. They’re filled with ingredients that ward off depression and anxiety, like the omega-3s in flaxseeds.

Dark chocolate is also a potent stress-buster, and oats are a source of soluble fiber that helps keep your blood sugar steady and prevent mood swings.Al Sunni A, et al. (2014). Effects of chocolate intake on perceived stress; a controlled clinical study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4350893/

22. Trail mix with nuts and dark chocolate

Fights: Stress (and boosts alertness)

This crunchy combo helps stabilize your blood sugar, preventing a sugar crash — and a major case of the grumpies.

Plus, nuts like walnuts are high in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood (and digestion).Yilmaz C, et al. (2019). Determination of serotonin in nuts and nut containing products by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2018.08.064

And the dark chocolate may prevent sluggishness with high levels of theobromine, a stimulant similar to caffeine. It may take only a few bites of the sweet stuff to boost your spirits.

23. Chocolate chia seed pudding

Fights: Depression and anxiety

Ch-ch-ch-chia! And chocolate! A more nutritious alternative to the standard pudding cup, this dessert is a double whammy for a good mood.

Chia seeds are a source of those depression-and-anxiety-reducing omega-3s, and dark cocoa powder helps keep bad moods in check. Try it as a snack, dessert, or breakfast.

24. Coffee with cinnamon

Boosts: Energy

No Red Bull is required to make it through a long afternoon. Coffee is a natural stimulant, boosting your energy and metabolism so you can face the day.

A cup o’ joe may also create good feelings by increasing levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.Lee JB, et al. (2019). Blood dopamine level enhanced by caffeine in men after treadmill running. DOI: 10.4103/CJP.CJP_59_19 And a sprinkle of cinnamon is all it takes to put some more pep in that cup.

25. Green tea and honey

Fights: Anxiety and stress

Sip a cup of the green stuff at breakfast, before bedtime, or during a relaxing afternoon break. Green tea is a great source of L-theanine, which may both relax your mind and sharpen your mental performance.Turkozu D, et al. (2017). L-theanine, unique amino acid of tea, and its metabolism, health effects, and safety. DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2015.1016141

26. Blueberry smoothie

Fights: Depression

When you’re feeling blue, some berries of the same hue might be just the thing to lift your spirits. Flavonoids, the plant pigments that give those berries their brilliant color, are good for fighting depression.Khalid S, et al. (2017). Effects of acute blueberry flavonoids on mood in children and young adults. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/2/158/htm

They say food is medicine, and we couldn’t agree more. We hope you’ll give these recipes a try. By incorporating some science-backed ingredients into your meals and making healthy lifestyle adjustments, you could be well on your way to an improved mood in the long run.