While many of us reach for stodgy comfort foods when the blues kick in, snacking on mood-boosting superfoods will help to keep you healthier and happier too. Check out these 10 superfoods for better moods.
A recent study conducted by the Tianjin Medical University found that people who ate tomatoes two to six times a week were 46 per cent less likely to suffer from depression than those participants who only ate tomatoes once a week. The researchers believe that the antioxidant called lycopene, which is found in tomatoes, might be the ingredient that helps protect against depression.
Omega-3 fatty acids are great for our skin, heart and eye health, and research suggests they are equally beneficial for our mood. A study by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that participants who had lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood were more likely to be moderately depressed and have a negative outlook. Furthermore, a study has found surprisingly low rates of seasonal affective disorder in Icelanders, where the diet is high in omega-3 rich fish.
If you’re feeling sad, anxious or fearful, avocado could help to put you in a better mood. Avocados are a good source of folate, and research suggests that folate deficiency may be behind irrational fears and anxiety. Avocados are also rich in omega-3, which is also good for mood and brain health.
Chocolate is a well-known mood booster, but it seems that its happiness-boosting properties are down to more than just the taste. Chocolate is high in mood-boosting chemicals, including relaxing magnesium, calming anandamide and pleasure-inducing phenylethylamine and findings published in the scientific journal Nutritional Neuroscience have suggested that the food can even help to reduce the symptoms of depression.
Walnuts are the perfect good-mood food, offering the combined mood-boosting properties of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6 and tryptophan.
The nuts are also a good source of folate (vitamin B9); the deficiency of which has been linked to depression. Not only can walnuts boost your happiness, but they can also help to ease anger. Walnuts contain both zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, and research has shown that omega-3 deficiency can contribute to aggressive behaviour, while a Japanese study has suggested that zinc may ease anger in women.
As well as snacking on walnuts, another good nut to add into your diet is Brazil. Brazil nuts are an extremely rich source of the mineral selenium, with research suggesting that just one Brazil nut a day can provide you with your recommended daily intake. As low levels of selenium can lead to depression, irritability and anxiety, snacking on Brazil’s could be the perfect healthy way to boost your mood.
Yoghurt is a good source of the essential amino acid tryptophan, which helps to boost levels of serotonin (the happy hormone) in the brain. Researchers from Toronto University also found that the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus casei found in some yoghurts can decrease anxiety, helping to put you in a calmer frame of mind.
While coffee tends to get a bad press, research shows that – for the ladies at least – coffee can be a mood booster. Findings published in the Archives of Internal Medicine revealed that women who drink two or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day are less likely to get depressed. Those who consumed two to three cups per day had a 15 per cent lower risk of developing depression, while for those who drank four or more cups a day their risk was reduced by 20 per cent.
Yeast extract is a good source of B vitamins, which can help to lift your mood. B vitamins are important for normal brain function and producing mood-boosting serotonin, with vitamins B12 and B6 being particularly beneficial for regulating your mood. Yeast extract spreads are also high in sodium, which blunts the body’s natural responses to stress by inhibiting stress hormones.
Bananas are a good source of tryptophan, which can help to enhance your mood, aid relaxation and boost your confidence. They are also rich in magnesium, which can help you to relax, and vitamin B6, which can help to relieve depression. Bananas are also high in carbohydrates, which stimulate the production of serotonin, helping you to feel happier.