Five foods to
boost your mood
Posted on 20 January 2017
Enjoying a meal is one of life’s singular pleasures, delighting not only our senses but also giving a feeling of satisfaction. So what foods provide the feel-good nourishment we need to help naturally stabilise mood, reduce stress and get us through the day? Here are the top five.
Oily fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a proven mood booster. Omega-3 has been shown to improve the levels of the brain chemicals serotonin (low levels are linked to depression) and dopamine (responsible for the brain’s pleasure reward function). Other good plant-based sources of omega-3 include flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, canola oil and walnuts.
Yes, chocolate can be good for you! As long as you stick to dark chocolate, which contains less sugar and more of the chemical tryptophan, a precursor of the release of serotonin in the brain. Higher levels of serotonin is not only linked to feeling good – it improves memory and alleviates anxiety and ADHD as well. Chocolate also boosts production of endorphins, our bodies’ own built-in happiness transmitters.
Fruit and vegetables
Fresh, whole foods, consumed as close to their natural state as possible, is the best way to ensure our bodies are getting the full nutritional benefit. Including more folate – a B-vitamin found in beans, citrus, beetroot, broccoli and dark-green vegetables – in our diet has been linked to the production of higher levels of serotonin in the brain.
Although they’ve had some bad press in recent years, carbohydrates are essential for overall health, and when combined with fibre (for example wholegrain bread or beans) they can boost levels of serotonin in the brain. Many carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta, bread, potatoes and oats porridge are regarded as ‘comfort foods’ because they’re associated with feelings of warmth and satisfaction. As with most foods, moderation is recommended to avoid weight gain and sharp spikes in blood sugar levels.
L-theanine is a brain-boosting amino acid found almost exclusively in green tea. Research has shown that the L-theanine and caffeine in green tea work together to improve focus and alertness.
Please note: These foods are not recommended as a cure for recurring feelings of depression. Seek professional medical help from a psychologist or psychiatrist if you are depressed and need counselling.