This is a great topic for me to blog on! I have to say, I'm ashamed I didn't think of it myself (a friend suggested it via email)... but I think it's especially pertanent with the season.
Unfortunately, there isn't a ton of information linking diet with depression. There is however, one fairly well-known nutrient that plays a role in preventing (or not preventing) depression, depending on its occurance in our diet: Omega-3 fatty acid.
I actually had one of my students tell me that her therapist required his patients to take supplemental flaxseed oil before he would see them for depression. Flaxseed contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other single source. That's just how big a difference it made in his clients. Huh.
Which makes sense, seeing as we're talking about the brain, which is made of mostly fat. That's right, we're all fatheads.
If our brain - which is comprised mostly of fat - is missing a certain essential fat (essential means it must come from the diet; the body cannot manufacture it alone), it seems obvious that there'd be an unfortunate outcome, like depression. This could be called a "chemical imbalance", but I hesitate to call it that, because we mostly associate chemical imbalances with something innate and unchangeable except by medication. But what a relief, to know that there is a chemical imbalance literally in our brain that we can easily undo.
So yes, flaxseed (ground) or flaxseed oil is a potent source of Omega-3's. But so are nuts, seeds, beans, fruit, vegetables and whole grains. All of 'em. Fatty plant foods like olive oil (extra virgin), canola oil, avocados, nuts and seeds are particularly high - as flaxseed is a seed, but again, literally all plant foods contain Omega-3, so the more you consume a plant-based diet, the less likely your brain is to be short on Omega-3.
Of course fish is also a source, but the irony is the same fish that contain the most Omega-3's are also highest in mercury and PCB's. Those toxins also affect the brain, but in a bad way, so fish would definately not be a good food for fighting depression. Fish oil capsules neither.
A special seasonal recipe by request:
Super Moist Pumpkin Bread
Submitted by Donna Walkush
prep time: 20 minutes | cooking time: 1 hr 15 minutes | makes (2) 8
The bread gets its name Super Moist from the addition of an unusual ingredient: coconut milk!
This bread is so good that most people (even vegans) don't believe that it's vegan.
(2) 8" x 4" loaf pans
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup coconut milk
2/3 cup flaked coconut
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8" x 4" loaf pans.
2. Spread walnuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Toast in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add the pumpkin puree, oil, and coconut milk, and mix until all of the flour is absorbed. Fold in the flaked coconut and toasted walnuts. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
4. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes in the preheated oven or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and cover loaves tightly with foil. Allow to steam for 10 minutes. Remove foil, and turn out onto a cooling rack. Tent loosely with the foil, and allow to cool completely.