Here are 9 healthy foods that may help to support better mental wellbeing.
Berries are well known for their incredible source of antioxidants, including polyphenols, carotenoids, anthocyanins, and vitamin C. Studies have proven that berries have the highest antioxidant capacity among commonly consumed fruits. It may offer multiple health benefits, including the reduction of disease risk, support brain and cardiovascular health. An antioxidant-rich diet may also help to support inflammation linked to depression and other mood disorders. A study has tried to show that an anthocyanins-rich diet may reduce 39% of depression symptoms. Different studies also show that both polyphenols and flavonoids are possessed with antidepressant activity, hence they may help to prevent depression and relieve depression symptoms. In addition, antioxidants and anthocyanins in blueberries act as great stress busters.
2. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds provide us with an excellent source of good fats, plant-based proteins, fibres, vitamins and minerals with multiple health benefits. They offer tryptophan, an essential amino acid which plays an important role in producing mood-boosting serotonin. Great sources of tryptophan include almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds. A lot of nuts and seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids that may also contribute to brain health and have been associated with improved brain function in older age. In addition, the combination of omega-3 fatty acids and uridine in walnuts has shown that it possesses an antidepressant effect in humans.A moderate intake of nuts could help to reduce 23% risk of depression, which a 10-year study in 15,980 people showed interesting results.
Bananas have also been recognised as an excellent good mood food as it contains combinations of vitamin B6, A and C, tryptophan, fiber, tryptophan, potassium, phosphorus, iron, carbohydrates and protein which are critical in boosting our mood and may improve depression.
Bananas are rich in vitamin B6, which will produce serotonin and dopamine, both hormones and neurotransmitters that help to regulate our mood. Tryptophan in bananas also improves our mood by creating relaxation sensation, ameliorates mood levels and makes us feel better.
4. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate, one of the most popular mood boosting snack that offers us positive health benefits. A study found that people who consume dark chocolate are less likely to have depression symptoms. This is because it triggers the release of endorphins, dopamine and serotonin which gives pleasure, reward and joy.
Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants, mainly flavonoids, which may support mood-boosting. It also contains caffeine, theobromine, and N-acylethanolamine which acts as a psychostimulant that is associated with alleviating mood. Chocolate also contains a combination of amino acid gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), tryptophan, phenylalanine, phenylethylamine, and tyrosine which helps to reduce anxiety and promotes appetite, reward and mood regulation.
5. Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are healthier foods which contain incredible nutrients that are important in promoting good health, fight against infections and reduce the risk of nutrition-related illnesses.
Interestingly, there are some studies indicating that because of its high micronutrients content, higher intake of fruits and vegetables are associated with lower risk of depression and other mood disorders. The most obvious results showed that high intake of specific subgroups including berries, citrus, and green leafy vegetables, may increase the levels of optimism and self-efficacy, and lower the level of psychological distress, ambiguity, and cancer fatalism, and prevent depressive symptoms. Studies showed that top 10 raw foods associated with better mental health were carrots, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens such as spinach, grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, fresh berries, cucumber and kiwifruits.
Therefore, the recommended healthy-eating guideline is to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day to maximize mental health benefits.
6. Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils offer an excellent source of fiber and proteins, hence they are the best meat replacement as a source of vegetarian protein. They are also rich in B vitamins that help to uplift mood by triggering the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), all of which are vital for regulating mood. A lack of certain B vitamins like vitamin B12, B6 and folate or folic acid, may be linked to mood disorders, such as depression.
Tea is one of the world’s popular beverages and has been linked with mood and performance benefits, including relaxation and alertness. Although tea does contain caffeine, they tend to be less stimulating and does not give rise to jittery effects compared to coffee as it contains a relaxing agent, theanine which helps to relieve stress and anxiety.
Studies showed that frequent intake of green tea may help to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as improve cognition and brain functions. Chamomile may also provide an antidepressant effect that could help to relieve moderate-to-severe generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) symptoms.
Yerba Mate is usually used as an energy booster and improves mental focus as it contains caffeine, theophylline and theobromine. It also presents an antidepressant-like effect which may benefit in relieving mental disorders such as attention disorders, depression, mood disorders, eating disorders and substance abuse.