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EmpowHER Guest

Whatever health benefits cashews may have, relieving depression because of their high tryptophan content is unlikely to be one of them.

Despite the common mythology, depression (and anxiety) isn't the result of too little brain serotonin, the neurotransmitter synthesized from tryptophan, and while antidepressants do initial increase serotonin levels this is short-lived and their longer term effect is to reduce serotonin synthesis and lower the amount in most brain regions.

So eating foods that have high levels of tryptophan won't have the same effect as taking antidepressants. If anything, it may be counter productive, though, given that about 98% of serotonin synthesis occurs in the gut, blood, blood vessels and skin, very little of the extra tryptophan (via its metabolite) will reach the brain anyway.

Exercise and omega-3 fatty acids/fish oil are likely to produce far better results in mild depression.

April 8, 2011 - 10:31pm


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