The food we eat majorly affects the way we feel. A poor diet and too much sugar and processed foods can lead to diabetes, depression, obesity, and fatigue among other ailments. If you want to feel your very best, you must eat the very best. This doesn’t mean you have to cut out every pleasurable food from your diet. The occasional order of french fries or slice of cake is not going to affect your health long term. The key is moderation. On a day to day basis, balancing your diet with healthy food is essential to your wellness and mental health -especially if you are prone to depression or low mood. Here are a few delicious, mood-boosting foods that are not only good for you, but can actually make you feel better!
Believe it or not, dark chocolate is actually good for you. Dark chocolate helps produce endorphins and serotonin in the brain -two key chemicals to pleasure and mood balance. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, an antioxidant that protects cells from free radicals such as sun exposure, pollution, and smoke. Flavonoids have also been proven to reduce bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Keep in mind that “dark” chocolate is the key here. So this doesn’t include milk chocolate or white chocolate -it has to be dark chocolate. The higher the cacao content in chocolate the more healthy it is. So opt for dark chocolate with a cacao percentage of 70 or more.
Beans & Legumes
Mexican food lovers rejoice! Beans are high in folic acid and selenium -two nutrients that are vital to a balanced and happy mood. Selenium is especially important for maintaining a healthy brain. This essential mineral helps reduce stress -a major culprit of depression. Doctors recommend 55 micrograms a day, so feel free to add extra beans to that burrito next time!
Wild Caught Fish
We all know the major health benefits of fish and the Omega-3 fatty acids they provide. Omega 3 fatty acids have long been proven to boost brain and cell function, so it’s obvious that they’re essential to a healthy mood and brain. However, steer clear of farm raised fish (tilapia, cod, salmon) and opt for wild caught salmon, albacore tuna, yellowtail tuna, and halibut.
Citrus Fruits & Berries
Fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries contain high levels of folate, a B vitamin that affects neurotransmitters in the brain. They’re also high in potassium, Vitamins A and C, as well as and other antioxidants which boost the immune system. So be sure to stock up on these brain-boosting fruits next time you’re grocery shopping!
And if you’re feeling ambitious, you can combine berries and greek yogurt for a delicious, mood-boosting treat!
Berry & Yogurt Popsicles
(Recipe Courtesy of Fit, Fun and Delish)
(Makes 10 pops)
- 16 oz/450g non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 3 Tablespoons of honey
- 1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 4 oz/120g Blueberries
- 4 oz/120g Raspberries
- Create the mixture in two stages to achieve this stunning colour combo.
- Mix the Greek yogurt, honey and vanilla extract until well blended with a spoon. Be careful not to crush the berries and stain the yogurt. Give it a quick taste to test.
- Transfer half of the yogurt mixture into the ice pop moulds. Using a toothpick or skewer push some of the whole berries towards the bottom of the mould. Freeze these pops for 15 minutes to harden this layer slightly.
- Puree the rest of the mixture in your blender to achieve the vibrant berry colour. Add this mixture to your half full ice pop moulds and freeze for another 3-4 hours before eating.
photo credit: Fit, Fun and Delish