It’s important to add that it’s not only the food we eat which impacts mood but also how we connect with food. Research has shown spending time in the kitchen preparing meals and having some structure around what will eat can benefit mood. Eating mindfully can also help you savour food and have a better relationship with food, which will in turn impact how food makes you feel.
In addition to eating a nutritious diet generally, there are certain foods, which have a greater impact on mood, and here I share with you those exact foods…
Wholegrains and vegetables are both incredibly beneficial to support a healthy mood. Specifically, they contain fibre, antioxidants and an array of vitamins and minerals. There is a definite connection between mood and gut health and oxidative stress and inflammation are also believed to play a role. Therefore it only makes sense that wholegrains and vegetables, which are fibre rich and contain compounds which fight against oxidation and inflammation benefit mood. Most of us are not going enough vegetables and wholegrains daily, so make sure to include a serve at each meal and preferably also at snack time.
Similar to wholegrains and vegetables, legumes make up a large proportion of a Mediterranean diet, which has been studied for its beneficial effects on mood. Specifically, legumes offer protein, which is needed to make neurotransmitters, stabilise blood sugar and appetite in addition to numerous vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and also fibre. Eating legumes at least 3-4 times weekly offers most benefit.
The brain is approximately 60% fat so it only makes sense that healthy fats are critical for the proper functioning of the chemical messengers in our brain, controlling mood and emotions. Specifically, omega-3 essential fats, which must be obtained in the diet, need to be factored in. Aim to eat a serve of fatty fish 2 times per week and a 30g serve of hemp, chia, flaxseeds or walnuts daily.
Avocado is beneficial for mood, similar to omega-3 fats because it is a source of healthy monounsaturated fats. In addition, it offers fibre for gut health and antioxidants, helping to protect against oxidative stress.
Saffron and turmeric, both famous for their vibrant colour, exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Preliminary research is showing their protective effects on mental health. This is a good reason to use saffron and turmeric other than for their taste! When cooking with turmeric, it’s important to add a source of fat and pepper to help aid absorption and reap the most benefit.