7 Natural Mood-Boosting Foods

Written by Rosa Ghidella, Haberfield Health

When we’re feeling emotionally low, we can turn to comfort food or we can choose natural mood-boosting foods to help us along the way.  Are you wondering what foods are mood-boosting foods? We’ll explain here.

Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of good health.  It is through our food that we can get the nutrients and minerals that our bodies need to stay healthy.  

During this global pandemic, it is common for many of us to experience bouts of anxiety or low moods. Whilst this is normal as we look at a changing and changed world, there are many things we can do to support ourselves to keep our moods positive. And, one of the easiest ways is through nutrition.

Hippocrates said famously: “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”

Whilst it is tempting to reach for comfort food when you are in lockdown, eating nutrient-dense and healthy food will serve you better.  Healthy foods are usually foods that are closest to their natural state. For example, choose a piece of fruit, like an orange. This is healthier than packaged orange juice.  Packaged foods can contain a number of preservatives and added ingredients that are not necessarily good for you.

We’ve compiled a list of foods that help us with maintaining a healthy body and mind.  Here are seven mood-boosting foods to add to your diet to improve your emotional wellbeing:-

Dark Chocolate

We’ve added this at the very top of our list because, well, who doesn’t love chocolate! This is one of our favourite natural mood-boosting foods. Dark Chocolate is rich in many mood-boosting compounds. These include magnesium and flavonoids.   Magnesium is known to be important to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression and lift mood.   Flavonoids can be effective in reducing inflammation. They are also known to boost brain health and improve our moods.  Chocolate also contains an antioxidant called polyphenols. These are considered important natural mood-boosters.   Enjoy a piece of dark chocolate without the guilt!

Berries

We know that a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables can help reduce inflammation. As a result, this can help minimize symptoms of anxiety and depression. Berries are high in antioxidants and phenolic compounds that can reduce oxidative stress in the body.  In addition, berries are high in Vitamin C. In fact, one cup of berries contains 24% of our recommended daily allowance. Blueberries can also regulate and prevent spikes in cortisol levels.  It does this by repairing and protecting cells damaged by the stress hormone. In this way, berries can help calm nervous disorders such as anxiety.  Add these natural mood-boosting foods to smoothies or enjoy on their own.

Spinach

This iron-rich superfood is also rich in folic acid and magnesium. Folic acid promotes good brain health and helps to improve focus and concentration. Magnesium is a natural muscle-relaxant and important for up to 300 different metabolic functions in the body.  It is also considered critical in brain function and mood.  Research points to low levels of magnesium to an increased risk of depression.  Add spinach to omeletes, minestrone or as a side to a meat dish.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and shellfish, have high levels of Omega-3s. Omega-3s are an important nutrient for boosting mood.  In particular, Omega-3s are known to shift specific brain chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin.  Low levels of serotonin in the body are linked with depression and even a tendency to aggression.  Add 2-3 serves of fatty fish to your weekly menu.

Nuts & Seeds 

Certain nuts and seeds are good sources of zinc and selenium. Good examples are almonds, Brazil nuts and pine nuts.  These nutrients are important for brain function.  Some research suggests there is a link between low levels of these minerals o depression. Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids that are known to improve alertness and mood.

Fermented Foods

Keeping our gut healthy impacts on our brain and emotional health. We know that nutrition is essential in maintain healthy gut flora. As a result, this can, in turn, impacts our behavior.  Fermented foods like kombucha, kimchi, yoghurt and sauerkraut act as natural probiotics on our gut, supporting good bacteria.

Green Tea

Green tea contains a naturally-occurring compound called L-theanine. L-theanine has a range of therapeutic benefits. This includes improving the quality of sleep and increased mental focus.  Research suggests that the L-theanine in green tea may promote a deeper sense of relaxation by reducing one’s resting heart rate. Add one cup of Green tea to your day for a more relaxed state of mind.

References:-

https://www.healthline.com/health/magnesium-anxiety#dosage

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mood-food

https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/depression-pictures/healthy-foods-boost-mood/