Have you heard the saying “a healthy body equals a healthy mind”? Well, these age old comments are becoming less of a saying and more of a way of living as we gain insight into the correlation between nutrition and mental health.
Mood foods promote overall well-being, boost energy levels, relieve stress and can improve your overall mood. The way we fuel our body translates to how we fuel our mind shows a direct correlation between nutrition and mental health. According to a dietician from the Mayo Clinic, “high-quality diets are correlated with feel-good hormones, such as serotonin and dopamine." So what foods get us in touch with those feel-good hormones?
Research shows that foods with healthy fats, high fiber, essential amino acids, B vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients are successful in promoting wellbeing. The need for foods to boost your mood has accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Estimates from the American Psychological Association indicate that rates of anxiety and depression are up by approximately 25 percent since the pandemic began.” (Source: Inner City Health Central)
Consumers have become more health conscious seeking natural ways to boost their mood through food. Allen Marketing Communications, Inc., a boutique food and beverage public relations agency, highlights key trends with foods to boost your mood.
Fruits and Vegetables
“Fruits and vegetables contain a wide variety of brain - healthy and mood - enhancing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and more that have beneficial impacts on our mind and our bodies.” (Source: Marie Molde, RD) Obviously fruits and vegetables can never go overserved, but certain fruits and vegetables go the extra mile in boosting your mood.
Blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are rich with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties and these berries help reduce stress. Vitamin B6 from bananas and vitamin C from oranges have been proven to boost cognitive functions.
Apples “are full of fiber that acts as a prebiotic, which is great for gut-brain connection. Plus, they’re full of antioxidants known as quercetin, which helps fuel feel good neurotransmitters in the brain.” (Source: Patricia Bannan, an internationally recognized MS, RDN). Leafy greens vegetables such as spinach, arugula, and kale should always be a go to as they are full of magnesium and folate which help reduce anxiety.
Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage all have large amounts of chromium, which increases the levels of brain chemicals related to positive feelings, alertness, and energy.
Fish and Lean Meats
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish helps restore and and protect the brain to elevate your spirits. Fish such as salmon, sardines, lake trout and tuna all provide these omega-3 fatty acids and have other minerals and vitamins important to mental wellbeing.
Meats are an important source of protein but it is important to shy away from red and processed meats and turn to lean meat that has more protein and less fat than other meats. Beef, chicken, and pork for example are an excellent source of iron which boosts energy and helps the body build strength.
Other Mood Boosting Foods
Nuts and seeds contain high amounts of plant-based proteins, fiber, and healthy fats. Cashews, peanuts, almonds, along with, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, and chia seeds, all provide amino acids responsible for producing serotonin.
Fermented foods, such as yogurt and kombucha can help improve your gut health which is important to your mood. Look to fill your diet with oats, beans, lentils, low-fat dairy, and olive oil, all foods that contain the nutrients our brain needs to create a healthy mind.
Everybody loves a good mid-day snack. Research shows “consumers want to improve their diets through cleaner foods giving snack makers an opportunity to produce innovative health indulgences.” (Source: Food Navigator USA)
By Erin Stevens at Allen Marketing Communications, Inc.