Mood can be influenced by many different factors – including food. And can’t we all use a little extra support right now to better our mood?!
Many of us might reach for the cookies and sugary foods when we feel a bit down, and although that might make us feel a bit better for a moment of time (the so called sugar rush), this usually won’t last long, and the dip after may be worse. So which foods are good for us, lift our moods and are also enjoyed by most? Here is a list of 10 good mood foods to consider!
Bananas are the UK’s most popular fruit, and for good reason! Not only are they super tasty, they are an excellent source of potassium, vitamin B6, fibre and carbohydrates. The fibre helps us to absorb the sugar more slowly, sustaining our energy levels and keeping us fuller for longer. Vitamin B6 helps our body to improve production and use of serotonin: a chemical made by our bodies that sends messages between the neurons in the brain and balances our mood. Perfect snack when you need a pick me up!
Beans are a great source of fibre, protein, Vitamin B, Iron and Potassium. Beans are also great for maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Some beans are are also rich in magnesium, a mineral that makes us feel calm and may reduce anxiety. Black beans and kidney beans are particularly high in this mineral. Bean chilli anyone?
Dark chocolate can of course not be left out here! Most people know that chocolate makes us happy; dark chocolate reduces stress hormones. Opt for darker variants with higher cocoa solid levels to increase its benefits as these have higher levels of tryptophan which our brain uses to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that lifts our mood & makes us happy. Milk chocolate contains more sugar and fat too. Obviously, it is still chocolate and should be consumed as a treat only.
Eggs not only contain lots of protein keeping you fuller for longer, they also contain the essential nutrient choline involved in memory, mood & muscle control, supporting our nervous system and improving our mood, as well as other goodness such as Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Omega 3 and amino acids!
Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and seabass, is a great source of Omega-3’s, which helps to sharpen our memory and improve our mood. For the vegetarian readers or those not into fish, choose some other foods listed in this blog which contain good levels of Omega 3 such as nuts (and seeds) or some vegetables.
Muesli contains high level of fibres, keeping energy levels up, as well as iron, reducing fatigue. Not enough iron reduces our blood’s ability to carry oxygen and thus reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to our brain. Many cereals are also fortified with Vitamin D, another mood improver. If you prefer a sandwich or toast for breakfast, try to stick with whole grain and ideally seeded breads.
Nuts lower the risk of depression and contain omega 3. Walnuts, peanuts and hazelnuts are a great source of Omega 3 and fibre. As listed earlier, Omega 3 is great to sharpen our memory and improve our mood! Pure Peanut butter (no added sugar, or added oil) also counts.
Rainbow of fruit & vegetables. If you eat fruit and vegetables of all colours of the rainbow, you ensure that you get a good variety of vitamins and nutrients.
Red peppers are the vegetables that contain a particularly high number of vitamin C, an antioxidant improving mood and reducing stress. Red peppers are fully ripened on the vine, whilst green ones are picked earlier. Berries (fresh or frozen) contain phenolic compounds enhancing our mood. Our final red fruit is of course watermelon, great for hydration to combat tiredness.
Oranges contain lots of Vitamin C and carrots are great for beta-carotene, which are body converts into Vitamin A – great for our immune function, and also contain lots of fibre and carotenoids fighting depression.
Yellow is a happy colour. Just seeing a bright corn on the cob makes me happy, plus it has lots of nutrients too. Lemon can also improve your mood, apparently just the smell of lemon can improve our mood. Plus it’s a great source of vitamin C too!
Green spinach contains nitrate and iron to help produce energy. Iron deficiency is very common, and can leave you feeling tired and irritable. Peas are also a great source of iron, plus contain Vitamin B6 – which helps to make dopamine and serotonin: increasing feelings of pleasure and good mood. Green leafy vegetables are a good source of Omega 3 too.
Indigo (blue/purple) coloured foods often contain anthocyanins or betalains (anti-oxidants) to give them the blue/purple colour. Although I might still be getting to term with this vegetable myself, beetroot is liked by many, and I have been amazed in how many different recipes it can be used in. Beetroot contains betaine, supporting the serotonin production in our brain and elevates our mood. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and folate, also helping our bodies to produce serotonin.
Water is important to keep hydrated. Not getting enough fluids might make you feel tired and create headaches. Water is obviously great, but 1 glass of fruit juice or a smoothie, and a glass or two of milk a day are great too. Consider a squeeze of lemon in your water to add some vitamin C. If you do add lemon to your water, best to drink it in one go, or drink with a straw – lemon juice isn’t that great for your teeth...
Yoghurt contains lots of calcium, which can increase feelings of contentment. Yoghurt also contains probiotics, great for gut health, which some research has shown to link with lower rates of depression. What about some Greek yogurt (higher protein) with muesli or granola, berries and banana for breakfast for a perfect start to your day?
And finally, although not a food, ensure to get some Sunshine too! When your skin is exposed to the sun, it makes Vitamin D. Increasing your levels of vitamin D and you will feel happier.
Have a happy day!