Food serves not only as a means of providing energy to our bodies but also plays a vital role in maintaining our overall health and well-being, including our mood. Intake of nutrient-dense foods can aid in enhancing our mood, promoting better mental health, and elevating our emotional well-being. What better way to alleviate stress levels and uplift one's spirit than by consuming dishes made with the finest and most nourishing ingredients!
Are you keen to learn about some of the top superfoods that have mood-boosting properties and can help alleviate stress? If so, read on!
Food and Its Impact on Our Mood
Before we dive into superfoods, let's first understand the connection between food and mood. Our food choices can influence our mood in part due to serotonin, a hormone that affects not only our appetite but our emotions and cognitive function as well, according to Dr. Saishreyas Sundarajoo, who was part of the team who developed the gut sequencing service at the Asian Microbiome Library (AMILI).
He explains that the gut microbiome plays a part in producing serotonin in our body. If our gut is imbalanced or unhealthy, it can disrupt serotonin production and “can impact central nervous system disorders, including anxiety, depressive disorders and schizophrenia.”
Physician Dr. Eva Selhub has likened food to fuel that “directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood.” According to Selhub, individuals who follow “traditional diets” that comprise vegetables, fruits, fish, and seafood are 25% to 35% less likely to be depressed compared to those who regularly indulge in processed and refined foods and sugar.
Superfoods for Improved Mood
For mood-boosting nutrition, you need to be more selective of what you eat, and superfoods are hands down your best choice. These nutrient-rich foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds that can help reduce inflammation, support healthy brain function, and promote overall well-being. According to Harvard, they “offer some very important nutrients that can power-pack your meals and snacks, and further enhance a healthy eating pattern.”
Many of the superfoods contain tryptophan, an amino acid that your body uses for serotonin production. They also contain a range of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help protect the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation, which may contribute to conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Here’s a list of foods that may help improve your mood as some studies have found:
Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to improved mood and brain function. Omega-3s are also known to help reduce inflammation in the brain, which may help ease symptoms of depression. To reap the benefits of salmon, it is recommended to consume 2-3 servings per week. Try grilling, baking, or broiling salmon for a delicious and healthy meal.
Berries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, both of which are known to ease stress and boost your mood. They are also low in calories and high in fibre, making them a great addition to a healthy diet. Additionally, berries, which are rich in flavonoids and other antioxidants, have been shown to have a positive impact on cognitive function and may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and depression. Some of the best types of berries for improving mood include blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Try adding them to smoothies, yoghourt, or oatmeal for a tasty and nutritious snack.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great source of healthy fats and protein, which can help regulate mood and energy levels. They will also make you feel full and satisfied throughout the day. Some of the best nuts and seeds for boosting mood include almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds. Many nuts and seeds are rich in magnesium. Try snacking on a handful of nuts or adding seeds to salads or smoothies.
Leafy greens are packed with nutrients, including folate, which has been linked to improved mood and cognitive function. In addition, leafy greens are a great source of iron and other minerals, which are important for maintaining energy levels and overall health. They are also low in calories and high in fibre, making them an excellent choice for weight management. Some of the best leafy greens for improving mood include spinach, kale, and Swiss chard. Try adding them to salads, soups, or sautéing them as a side dish.
Oats are another great mood-boosting food to consider. They are a good source of complex carbohydrates and fibre, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full and energised throughout the day. Additionally, oats contain a specific type of fibre called beta-glucan, which has been shown to have a positive impact on mood and may help reduce symptoms of depression. They are also a good source of tryptophan. Try starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal topped with berries and nuts for a nutritious and mood-boosting breakfast.
Green tea is rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body; and L-theanine, an amino acid that has been shown to improve mood and reduce stress. It is also low in calories and caffeine, making it a great alternative to coffee. Try sipping on green tea throughout the day for a calming and mood-enhancing beverage.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of complex carbohydrates, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and provide a steady source of energy throughout the day. They are rich in vitamin A, fibre, and antioxidants. Additionally, they have Vitamin B6 that helps make serotonin. To enjoy the mood-boosting benefits of sweet potatoes, try roasting them in the oven with a sprinkle of cinnamon and serving as a side dish with your favourite protein.
By incorporating mood-boosting superfoods into your diet, you can effectively enhance your overall well-being and better equip yourself to manage the daily stressors of life. The above 7 superfoods are all excellent options to consider. Through making slight alterations to your dietary habits and emphasising nutrient-dense foods that promote mood enhancement, you can cultivate a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle.
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