So I have spoken in a previous post about how gut health can affect your mood and I gave you an insight about fermented foods and drinks and how they can increase your ‘good’ gut microbiome. Well in this post today, I wanted to go into some specific foods that have been found to support and promote mental wellbeing and (*spoiler alert*) you’re never going to deny yourself dark chocolate the next time your fed up!
So here are 5 foods that can help to increase your mood and the science behind it all:
Fish– So we have probably all heard about omega 3 fatty acids, and maybe you have heard that they have been linked with helping things like memory and joints. Well yes, omega 3 can be found in fish (but also nuts, seeds and eggs) and it is thought that a low intake of this fatty acid may predispose some people to depression and anxiety. Although the data is currently mixed, some studies suggest that these healthy fats (supplemented through a fish oil) may ease symptoms of depression.
Nuts and seeds– Along with also providing omega 3 fatty acids, nuts and seeds are also great sources of vitamin E, zinc and magnesium which are all linked to boosting mood. In particular, magnesium is vital for GABA production, a neurotransmitter that helps to ‘slow the brain down’ and produce “happy hormones” like serotonin. This calming effect that magnesium seems to have has also been found to help with sleep issues and insomnia. As we all know, getting a good night’s rest can dramatically help to improve our mood, and with pumpkin seeds being particularly high in this mighty mineral, eating these and other nuts/ seeds are a great ‘mood food’ option.
Eggs- Eggs are an amazingly protein rich food which contain the essential amino acid ‘tryptophan’. Tryptophan can naturally regulate the mood as it helps to balance hormones and boost feelings of safety, connection and wellbeing through increasing serotonin production. I did always wonder why having eggs for breakfast made me and Shelly the cat so happy…
Other great sources of tryptophan are: turkey, beef and green leafy vegetables.
Green leafy vegetables- The miracle foods… If you wanted to just improve any diet nutritionally in one safe swoop, these bad boys would be the answer. When it comes to mood, green leafy veg contain a lot of the goodness discussed above such as magnesium, tryptophan, vitamin E and zinc. They also contain B Vitamins which are needed within the body in order for you to deal with stress. In particular B6 and B7 which can be found in green leafy vegetable have been linked to positive mindset, energy, increased concentration and even brain development!
Dark chocolate- YES! I hear you say…NOW your talking. Well it can’t be denied, dark chocolate has in many cases been found to increase mood and although it is not exactly clear on why this effect is, I believe it is just our brain being bloody thankful for something so amazing J It is good to mention here though, that dark chocolate is often a much better option than milk chocolate due to it having much less sugar. The higher cocoa level percent you can get is also better as this is where all of the amazing goodness comes from.
So overall, as always it looks like in order to fully support your mood, eating fresh, wholesome food is often a good starting point. Remember, the more varied the better in order to get different nutrients and if you can also dip it in dark chocolate it’s a winner winner 😉