Mental health problems affect one in four people each year, with exercise and a healthy diet among some of the recommendations to treat the symptoms of depression and anxiety naturally. Naturopathic nutritionist Julie Haigh reveals seven foods that are known for their mood-boosting properties…
Chocolate: Dark chocolate is my favourite and most effective mood lifter. Enjoying a square or two of dark chocolate can stimulate the production of endorphins, the chemical in brain which triggers the feeling of pleasure and euphoria. Chocolate is also a dietary source of tryptophan, an amino acid precursor to serotonin which can act as an anti-depressant. Opt for dark chocolate with a high percentage of coca (at least over 70%) to get the most out of your delicious snacks.
Saffron: Saffron is a relatively under-rated spice however it has long been used in traditional Persian medicine as a mood lifter, most commonly added to rice during the cooking stages or steeped into a mug of hot water as a tea.
Coconut: Coconut meat is a rich source of protein and fibre that provides energy to the body and reduces feeling of fatigue. For those who don’t like the rich taste of the coconut meat, why not try cooking with coconut oil? Coconut oil is one of the most versatile oils and my favourite to cook with. Its wonderful scent can enhance alertness and soothe our stresses at the same time. Try Suma Organic Coconut Oil, they're a great ethical company producing high quality products. The coconut oil is available to buy at candidadietfoods.co.uk.
Blueberries: These tiny fruits are full of nutritional benefits including vitamin K and C, fibre anthocyanins and manganese. They can help improve brain function and discourage mood swings keeping you happy and satisfied!
Spinach: Not only is spinach filled with antioxidants and vitamin K which plays an important role in cardiovascular and bone health, this essential leafy green is also rich is B vitamins such as folate. Deficiencies in B vitamins has been linked to depression as low levels of this essential vitamin reduces the amount serotonin produced in the brain, which helps to regulate mood. Eating spinach and other leafy green vegetables will help to keep your serotonin levels up and improve your mood.
Brazil Nuts: The cure to your bad mood could well be a handful of Brazil nuts. Brazil nuts are one of the richest foods in the mineral selenium, which is responsible for maintaining mood and preventing depression. Research has found that those who are deficient in this mineral have a tendency to be more irritable and hostile and more likely to feel anxious. Make sure to pack a bag of these nuts as the ultimate mood lifting snack.
Oily Fish: Omega 3 fatty acids make up a large percentage of our brain tissue therefore a diet rich in oily fish can improve your mood by keeping brain cells flexible meaning that the brain’s messaging chemicals can work more effectively. Opt for oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines to keep your brain healthy and happy.
See the latest health features here.