9 mood-boosting foods

Can nourishing our bodies boost our mood?

It might sound unbelievable, but there is mounting evidence to suggest the foods we eat do more than fuel our bodies, it can also manipulate our moods. You may have experienced – a low mood after a particularly erratic, fast-food-heavy week. You can also experience a boosted mood after a nourishing meal prep stint.

In this article, our Accredited Practicing Dietitians, Anna and Alex from The Biting Truth explain how certain foods can make us feel brighter and more energised. Get a pen and paper at the ready because here are the nine foods you’ll want to add to your shopping list!

1. Salmon

As one of the richest sources of omega-3 fats, Increasing your intake of salmon or other omega-3-rich foods is a must if your goal is to optimise your mood. Research suggests people who are deficient in omega-3 may be more susceptible to depression and low mood, as these fats make up a large percentage of our brain tissue.

Salmon is also a rich, natural source of vitamin D, which also plays a role in regulating mood.

Boost your mood with this salmon recipe: Black Rice Salad with Edamame and Cashews with Poached Salmon

2. Greek yoghurt

There is mounting evidence that probiotic foods, like yoghurt, help boost mood by improving the composition of our gut microbiome (or ‘gut bugs’). A mood-boosting gut microbiome is one that has a variety (or ‘diversity’) of healthy bacteria. A diverse gut microbiome can be achieved simply by adding a range of probiotic foods to your diet. If you’re not a fan of yoghurt, you could opt instead to add sauerkraut, kimchi, or kombucha.

Boost your mood with this yoghurt recipe: Berrylicious Frozen Yoghurt Bark

3. Chickpeas

Your gut bacteria need to eat to support your mood and one of their favourite foods is fibre, which chickpeas are full of. When gut bacteria eat fibre-containing foods like chickpeas, they produce compounds that support mood-boosting hormones and neurotransmitters (types of chemical messengers).

Boost your mood with this chickpea recipe: Creamy Chickpea Sandwich

4. Nuts

It has long been known a handful of nuts every day is a fantastic source of protein, healthy fats, vitamin E and selenium. When it comes to mood, nuts are rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which aids in the production of serotonin (one of those chemical messengers we mentioned). Serotonin plays a role in reducing anxiety, promoting good moods, and producing the hormone melatonin to help regulate your sleep patterns.

Boost your mood with this nut recipe: Honey Spiced Snack Mix

5. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are another fantastic source of tryptophan as well as magnesium, healthy fats and protein, making them a perfect snack to balance your energy and mood throughout the day.

Why not mix together a nut and seed trail mix for a tasty, tryptophan-filled snack?

6. Leafy greens

We’re sure this isn’t the first time you’ve been recommended to add leafy greens to your shopping list, but what if you knew they could play a role in regulating mood and brain functioning? Folate, a vitamin found in leafy greens such as spinach and kale, can also help to raise serotonin levels.

Boost your mood with this leafy greens recipe: Kale and Cashew Salad

7. Dark chocolate

Yes, a little chocolate can really help improve your mood. The cocoa content is key. It’s ideal to get the darkest chocolate you can find, as this will have the least sugar and the most cocoa mass, which is where the mood-boosting potential comes from. Try and choose chocolate with a cocoa percentage of 85% or above.

Boost your mood with this chocolate recipe: Chocolate Date Caramel Cups

8. Oats

Oats have a low Glycemic Index (GI), meaning they provide a steadier release of energy which can help regulate your mood. As opposed to high GI foods which cause a big spike in your blood sugar levels and can send you on an emotional rollercoaster.

Oats also contain the mood-boosting mineral selenium.

If that’s not enough to convince you to add oats to your culinary repertoire, they also boast a special type of fibre called beta-glucan, which has been shown to lower cholesterol levels.

Boost your mood with this oat recipe: Baked Oats

9. Bananas

Speaking of fibre, bananas are also a fantastic source. Bananas are also rich in vitamin B6, potassium and tryptophan, which are all linked to a good mood. They are a great solo snack but can also be added to smoothies or your favourite muffin recipe.

 Boost your mood with this banana recipe: Veggie Packed Banana Muffins

Not a bad shopping list, huh? We think there’s something in there for everyone. No single food will boost your mood alone, so the more of these foods you can include on a regular basis, the better. With these tasty recipe suggestions, you’ll be on your way to a boosted mood in no time!

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