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How can making healthy food choices make me happy?

Which nosh makes you happier -- carrot sticks or potato chips? If you want to feel happy for more than a minute, go for the sticks.

Why? Because research shows that the potato chips could be bringing you down. It seems that certain foods may bump up the risk of clinical blues. And junk food and sweets are high on that list, according to a recent study.

In the study, researchers characterized the typical diets of middle-aged volunteers as either "whole food" -- meaning he or she tended to eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and fish -- or as "processed food" -- meaning the study participant favored fried foods, sweets, refined grains processed meat, and high-fat dairy. For the next five years, the researchers tracked the participants to see who became depressed and who didn't. The results? The junk-food junkies were 58% more likely to be down in the dumps.

Researchers suspect a healthy diet helps ward off the blues in several ways. First, produce-heavy diets deliver lots of folate, which enhances communication between brain cells. Second, fruits and veggies are also packed with antioxidants, which are linked to lower rates of depression. And finally, there's fish. Lots of research has shown that long-chain omega-3 fats, found in abundance in fish, may defend against depression by reducing inflammation in the brain.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.