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10 Foods That Can Affect Your Mental Health

Is food getting you down? It may be. If your mental health is as important to you as your physical health, check out our short list of foods that get you down and those that get you "up" (and we're not only talking energy here).
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By · November 30, 2009

Is food getting you down? Quick. What’s the first thing you grab in the morning to ease the throbbing of a hangover? Most likely, it’s something with lots of sugar and fat. But what if we told you those high-carb, high-sugar foods you choose can put you in a stank mood? And in worst-case scenarios, lead to depression.

A recent British and French study examining the connection between what we eat and our overall mental health found that people who eat more processed foods are at a higher risk for depression, while those who eat whole foods are at a lower risk and generally have more energy. If your mental health is as important to you as your physical health, check out our list of five foods to that get you down and five that get you “up” (and we’re not only talking energy here).

5 Unhealthy Foods

Potato Chips and French Fries
Not only are fries and potato chips high in calories, they also pack a punch when it comes to saturated fats and sodium, which has been linked to high-blood pressure. Saturated fats are difficult for the body to digest, putting you in an unpleasant food coma, aka, the “itis.”

The average fast-food burger weighs in at between 500-900 calories. That’s almost half of the daily-recommended calories. This all-American staple is also filled with saturated fats and trans-fatty acids, which increase the levels of cholesterol, thus putting you at a higher risk for heart disease. All those carbs raise your blood sugar level and leave you feeling lethargic.

The average 12oz soda can has about 10 teaspoons of sugar and, and on average, about 40 milligram of caffeine, nearly as much as a cup of coffee. Although the sugar gives you a momentary high, it also raises the insulin levels in your blood. But studies show that consuming too much sugar eventually lowers the body’s ability to naturally produce endorphins, which has been linked to depression.

Hot dogs
Processed meats are generally an unhealthy choice because of high levels of fat and sodium. They’re also full of nitrates (a food preservative) which when encountered with the amino acids in our bodies, can produce a cancer-causing chemical called nitrosamine. Nitrates have also been linked to migraines and tension headaches.

Not only will the sugar in cookies give you the best momentary “high” it’s also a fast track to the “crash and burn” effect. Too often a sugar rush leaves us feeling groggy and craving for more. It becomes a cycle.

Foods that get you “up”

Besides giving you energy, almonds are said to arouse passion in females. They’re packed with vitamin E, a natural sex hormone stimulant, and magnesium, which helps the body convert sugar into energy.

In ancient Mayan culture, avocados were thought to have health benefits and aphrodisiac qualities. They’re said to be one of the healthiest fruits on the planet, containing 25 essential nutrients like Vitamin E, folic acid, copper and iron. Their high fiber content is great for your digestive system.

With their phallic shape it’s no coincidence that bananas are thought to be an aphrodisiac. Potassium is a natural diuretic and energy booster that helps muscles contract, which can cause stronger orgasms.

Quietly, cocoa is the boss of sexual mood enhancers. It contains chemicals called phenylethylamine, a stimulant that encourages a sense of excitement conducive to getting aroused.

Never mind the stink, this all-around healthy food helps the body release allicin, a chemical that increases blood flow to all the right places. Garlic also contains inulin, a fiber that keeps you feeling full and gives you energy.