Food and our mood have a lot to say about one another. During the colder months of the year, we opt for cozy, homemade dishes, while summer has us reaching for salads and fresh iced coffee. The two are for totally different reasons.
In winter, we want comforting, warming food. During the summer, we want refreshing. However, the most interesting thing is – the release of certain brain chemicals.
Food gets us excited, and some foods (more than others) can really boost our mood. But which ones? Let’s take a look.
It doesn’t matter what our mood currently is to make us reach for the chocolate! However, dark chocolate in particular has some amazing mood-boosting abilities.
For the ultimate boost, find at least 70% cacao chocolate – it’s gotta be the best. This level of richness is a great source of tryptophan – an essential amino acid.
As well as being great tasting, dark chocolate can also increase circulation to the brain, make you more alert and improve reaction times and problem-solving. Clever stuff!
Some claim that dark chocolate can increase arousal in women, but I’ll leave that one to you…
Fruit and vegetables
Of course, a healthy diet with lots of fruit and veg is good for you – but did you know that B vitamins in particular affect mood? Yep, studies have shown that vitamin B encourages the production of brain chemicals – affecting your mood.
But which fruit and veg are best? Well, you can find B2 in spinach and mushrooms, B3 in avocados, B6 in bananas and B9 in broccoli.
Plus, a healthy diet including plenty of B12 helps to regulate your mood. It works by encouraging the production of serotonin, which is key to stabilizing mood.
It comes as no surprise that coconut oil is commonly found in hair products and moisturizers. But as well as being incredibly moisturizing, coconut oil is great for your mood, too.
Many of us use coconut oil in cooking, due to its unique composition of fatty acids. But are typically unaware that the scent of coconut oil alone triggers a “fight or flight” response in stressful situations!
So, whether you’re soaking your hair or using it in the kitchen, get that beautiful coconutty scent flowing!
Many of us forget about the powerful vitamin-punch given by asparagus! They are an excellent source of tryptophan – which increases those all-important happy chemicals.
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While some of us include them in the occasional meal, asparagus is popular for plant-based dieters too. Their assistance with increasing serotonin levels helps to regulate mood, appetite, sleep and memory. So for a little lanky stalk, they’re pretty powerful!
If you frequently experience feelings of anxiety, depression or irregular moods, it could be due to low serotonin levels. Try packing some asparagus into your diet!
Omega-3 fatty acids
Although the word ‘fat’ usually has us running for the hills, our body needs certain fatty acids as part of a balanced diet. After all, our bodies don’t produce these on their own – so we need to find them in food.
As well as increasing the brain’s happy chemical production, omega-3s also help the release of dopamine.
But how can you get omega-3 in your diet? Try the following:
Green tea and coffee
I love to kickstart my morning with a cup of coffee, it helps to put that spring to my step as I start the day! But of course, too much caffeine can cause you to crash.
If you’re feeling a little sluggish, sipping some delicious green tea can really benefit your mind and mood. Plus, it is packed with health benefits due to its antioxidants.
Green tea and coffee are both great for starting your day – plus, coffee will give you a few extra calories to keep you going after the caffeine wears off!
Ah, the famous carb! Complex carbohydrates, however, increase our mood and feelings of well-being. They’re a common food staple during the colder months, keeping us feeling full and content.
Although many of us disregard breakfast in the morning, it’s an important meal to kickstart our day. A bowl of oats can really help you feel fuller for longer, reducing the urge to snack. Plus, with plenty of complex carbs being slow-digesting – such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, oats and whole grain pasta – they’re great for getting you through each meal of the day with those snacky temptations!
Some of us have a bit of a love-hate relationship with quinoa! But it’s an incredible food to incorporate into your diet if you can. Not only is it a complex carb, but it’s also a complete protein.
Quinoa can keep your blood sugar levels in check, helping you to avoid those dips in mood, energy and feeling irritable. So, if you’re a common hangry eater, get stocked up on some quinoa to balance out that mood!
Pair it with some veg for an extra mood-boost!