A Handful of Benefits: How This Easy Snack Could Help Ward Off Depression

by | Sep 1, 2023 | Nutrition

Depression rates are at an all-time high with the World Health Organization estimating that around 5% of adults are battling with the disorder. The reasons are manyfold, but some researchers posit that the pandemic heightened feelings of isolation putting many on a crash course towards some serious mental health issues.

However, it’s not a losing battle. If you’re struggling with depression, seeking help from a professional could be a wise decision. Many medical aid schemes now cover a set number of sessions with a therapist, giving you access to a potential lifeline in this dark chapter.

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But there are other steps you can take, too. Exercise, for instance, has been shown to help boost your mood and minimize your risks of becoming depressed. And, for satisfying pick-me-up, you can look to your snack drawer for some much-needed support.

Easy Nut to Crack

A new study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition has found that a serving of nuts could be a game-changing prescription. The research investigated the lifestyle habits of around 500,000 people and unearthed an interesting answer to staving off the blues.

Those who snacked on a 30g serving of nuts—think: Brazil nuts, pistachios, cashews or hazelnuts—were far less likely to report that they were diagnosed with depression or were taking antidepressants. Great news? Well, take it with a pinch of salt.

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The researchers couldn’t figure out exactly why those snacking on nuts tended to be less likely to be depressed, so grabbing a bag of cashews next time at Woolworths isn’t exactly a foolproof cure. However, nuts do pack anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which can have a positive effect on your mental well-being.

But nuts aren’t just good for the soul, they’re a snack that can elevate almost every aspect of your health. Let’s look at a few reasons you should be reaching for a handful:

1. May Help Your Heart

According to a 2016 review in BMC Medicine, those who ate the most nuts were able to slash their risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease by nearly 33% and 21% respectively. The secret? Nuts are rich in fibre, magnesium and polyunsaturated fats AKA the heart-helping heroes that dropkick cholesterol and boost your ticker’s health.

2. May Extend Your Lifespan

bowl of various nuts on orange backdrop

Those who eat 20 grams of nuts per day (a handful) were 22% less likely to die prematurely (BMC Medicine).

3. Can Slash Your Cancer Risk

Then the same study found that those who indulged in a handful of nuts were also able to reduce their risks of getting cancer by 15%.

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4. May Help You Lose Weight

Hear us out: we know nuts are calorie-dense, but they’re also incredibly satiating. As such, a handful could help curb your appetite and steer you away from unhealthy grub. One study found that those who snacked on almonds as part of their diet were able to ward off the weight for longer than those opting for carbs instead (International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders).

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