The pandemic has certainly made being in good spirits a challenge at times. But did you know that eating healthy foods might help? No food is a miracle cure, of course, but a healthy diet can work wonders when it comes to energizing your body and just generally helping you feel your best. Supporting your mental health through food includes having a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, complex carbs, and lean protein.
Here are some foods that may help boost your mood.
BEANS AND LENTILS
Beans and lentils are high in fiber and make for a great meat alternative, plant-based protein. They are a rich source of vitamin B which is known to help improve and regulate mood. They are also low in fat, high in potassium, and make a great side dish. Next time you cook try incorporating legumes, including lentils, beans, peas, or chickpeas.
When you’re ready for a sweet, try dark chocolate. Studies have shown that dark chocolate may help with brain function and lead to improvements in mood. Like the other foods listed here, it’s an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. And it contains zinc, which is linked to brain growth and function. Zinc also has been found to reduce the severity of depressive symptoms. Chocolate contains a type of antioxidant called polyphenols, which are thought to boost mood. To get the most health benefits from your chocolate, choose one with 70% or more cocoa.
Fruit is linked to lowering your risk for depression, according to a review of research examining the correlation between fruit and vegetable consumption and depression. Fruit is full of vitamins and micronutrients and can fill your sweet tooth cravings. Try a banana, they are rich in vitamin B6, a vitamin that helps create feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin.
Dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach are packed with nutrients. But another, often overlooked, option to reach for is Swiss chard. This vegetable is packed with vitamin K, with one cup of raw Swiss chard containing more than three times the recommended daily allowance. It’s also rich in calcium and magnesium. And studies have shown that magnesium may have protective effects against depression.
Nuts and seeds contain a lot of plant-based proteins and fiber. They can also be a good source of zinc and selenium. Deficiency in these minerals can lead to a higher risk of depression. One drawback of nuts is that they are high in fat, so try a daily standard serving size of ¼ cup.
Certain types of fish always end up on lists of good foods to eat because they’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which help with depression and anxiety. Salmon, tuna, halibut, sardines, and mackerel are all good sources of omega-3. Other good sources of omega-3s are flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts.
A good spice to add to your food is turmeric. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which acts as an antioxidant. It’s also an anti-inflammatory, which can help curb symptoms of depression. Next time you make a smoothie, try adding turmeric.
Try switching out refined carbs, like white bread and sugary cereals, with whole grains such as wheat bread and quinoa. Many whole grains contain tryptophan, an amino acid that aids in the production of brain chemicals that promote well-being, like serotonin. Try starting your morning with a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal, which contains fiber that will keep you full and can prevent your energy from crashing. Other whole grains include barley, brown rice, and buckwheat.