It’s true what they say, you are what you eat. Feed your body processed, sugary rubbish and you’ll never feel at your best. For light-bites and snacks that put a smile on your face, try out our 8 favourite mood-boosting superfoods. Food has a stronger influence over the mind then you may realise.
Ooh la la. If you’ve a real craving for oysters, you’re in luck – these little aphrodisiacs are rich in essential nutrients, including zinc. Zinc is a brain-enhancing all-rounder, with research from the Duke University Medical Center to support that it may help prevent cognitive decline and improve memory/learning capabilities.
Alongside its brain-boosting super powers, it’s also believed that zinc can alleviate depressive symptoms, support a healthy immune system and protect the gut, which all in all, can leave you in better spirits.
If oysters aren’t your thing, there are plenty other zinc-filled alternatives to try, including beef, spinach and pumpkin seeds.
Your favourite fungi doesn’t just taste amazing slathered in garlic – its high vitamin D content also makes it the perfect feel-good food. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient needed for maintaining a healthy immune system and bones. Without it, there’s strong research to suggest that we are more vulnerable to depressive disorders.
If you’re feeling down in the dumps, a strong dose of vitamin D could be just the pick-me-up you were looking for. Those that have the deficiency tend to lack the nutrient in their diet, or spend too much time indoors.
If you haven’t the time to cook mushrooms, try to fit as much natural sunlight into your day as you possibly can. This can really help to boost your vitamin D levels and mood as a result.
Eggs are amazing – easy to cook, super versatile and packed with key nutrients, you can’t go wrong with this protein powerhouse. And to top it off, it’s one of the best sources of vitamin B12.
B12 is central to the production of red blood cells. Without it, you feel fatigued, unmotivated and experience a loss of energy; symptoms often associated with depression. If you’re out of eggs, there are other B12 rich foods that fit the bill. Clams are packed with vitamin B12, and provide around 1,400 per cent of your Daily Value (DV) in 3 ounces. Or alternatively, there’s always tofu, cheese or mackerel if you’re struggling to find a B12 food you like.
Rule of thumb: if it’s green and it’s a vegetable, it’s good for you. And broccoli is one of the best of the best. Not only is it a great source of vitamin C and K, protecting the immune system and promoting excellent bone health, but it’s also high in chromium.
When consumed, chromium helps to increase the brain’s levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin – chemicals found within in the body that regulate mood and ease depression.
If you’re in need of a chromium-kick, grape juice and potatoes make tasty choices too.
No superfood list is complete without word of the avocado. Its creamy, nutty texture has won the hearts of many in recent years, thanks to its high nutrient content and healthy fats – lots of potassium, lutein and omega-3 acids. And if that wasn’t enough, it leaves you feeling great too.
Avocados are a notable source of folate. When teamed with vitamin B12, these 2 nutrients make the perfect pair to fight symptoms of depression. Again, this is because folate (or B9) can help regulate your mood through supporting healthy serotonin levels.
If you hate the thought of a folate-filled avocado on toast or in your salad, try beans, lentils or even leafy greens like spinach.
Natural pick-me-ups do exist, and blueberries are one of them. As one of the highest sources of antioxidants around, they help to ward off chronic illnesses such as cancer and heart disease, and keep the immune system ticking over nicely.
Rich in vitamin C they’re one of the best stress-busters around, with the added potential to lower blood pressure says the American Society for Nutrition. From a study made in 2011, it was discovered that “one serving of blueberries per week compared with no blueberry intake was associated with a 10% reduction in hypertension.” This, coupled with the blueberry’s ability to improve memory and learning function makes it a brain-food you can’t ignore.
At only 85 calories a cup, they’re a great guilt-free, snack to curb stomach rumbles.
When you’re feeling rubbish, you can always rely on chocolate to save the day. But not the milk variety. If you want to boost your mood without refined sugars and high-fat ingredients, break off 2 squares of high-cacao dark chocolate. We’re talking 80% cacao and above, as it carries greater nutritional value – lots of healthy monounsaturated fats, half the sugar of milk chocolate, a higher percentage of iron, magnesium and theobromine, and far less cholesterol.
What’s more, dark chocolate is also rich in the mood-enhancing chemical, anandamide; a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in suppressing pain and feelings of depression. Satisfy your sweet tooth the healthy way with dark chocolate.
To feel fuller for longer, try almonds. Despite being quite high in fat and calories, the protein content of almonds makes them the perfect mood-boosting snack to satiate your appetite – but in moderation.
And get this: a 1/4-cup can hold up to 95 mg of magnesium; an essential nutrient needed for all-round health. Without it, you’re more susceptible to stress, fatigue and irritability. Magnesium is also an important contributor to the development of serotonin/helps regulate emotions, leaving you one happy snacker.