Fact: You are what you eat. We know food affects our physical health, but did you know that they impact your mental health as well?
Many studies have found that diets high in refined sugars are linked to impaired brain function and the worsening of mood disorders. While we can’t vouch for the accuracy of all these studies, we think that every little bit counts! So if you’re feeling peckish or stressed at work and craving something sweet, here’s a list of tasty foods that do more good than bad for both your mind and body.
It may seem too good to be true, but dark chocolate boosts your mental and physical health. It stimulates the production of endorphins, brain chemicals related to feelings of pleasure, and serotonin, which calms us. Dark chocolate also helps lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels due to the presence of flavonoids, an antioxidant.
Tip: As with anything, moderation is key. Dark chocolate contains a fair bit of calories—experts recommend no more than 85g per day.
Popcorn is high in good carbs (complex carbohydrates) that are high in nutrients and slow absorbing. Carbs increase our serotonin levels, making us feel happier and more relaxed.
Tip: Sprinkle spices over your popcorn rather than sugar, salt or oil so that you don’t cancel out the benefits of popcorn.
Bananas are rich in mood-elevating magnesium and high in vitamin B6, essential for the production of mood-boosting chemicals, dopamine and serotonin.
Tip: If your workplace has a freezer, roll your banana in yoghurt, add chopped nuts and freeze it for a tasty treat.
Edamames are tasty and easy to snack on. They’re high in tryptophan, which regulates your appetite and boosts your mood. They’re also packed with essential nutrients.
Tip: Half a cup of edamame pods comes with exactly the right mix of nutrients to boost your physical and mental energy.
Nuts (almonds and walnuts)
Almonds are high in tyrosine, essential for the production of dopamine. Walnuts are full of omega-3s. Higher levels of omega-3s in blood have been linked to better mood and lower rates of depression.
Tip: Prepare your own trail mix by combining almonds, walnuts, dried apricots and dark chocolate bits.
Seaweed is rich in iodine, iron and many essential nutrients. Iodine is important for thyroid function, which affects our mood and energy levels.
Tip: Love crackers? Swap your potato chips for these seaweed crackers. Moderation is key—too much iodine can be harmful to your thyroid.
Avocados are packed with fatty acids that increase dopamine and serotonin. Fatty acids may also help lower blood pressure and support heart health.
Blueberries and strawberries
They’re high in antioxidants, low in sugar and calories and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) levels.
If you just want a drink, try green tea. Loaded with antioxidants, it also contains polyphenols that boost dopamine levels.
You know what they say…a healthy gut, a healthy you. But did you know your gut health also affects your mental state? Studies show that a healthy gut helps reduce anxiety and depression. Yoghurt is loaded with probiotics, good bacteria that keeps your gut healthy.
Tip: Add berries to plain Greek yoghurt for sweetness without the guilt.
Final tip: Remember that a sustained mood boost comes from a consistent supply of nutritious foods!
This article was first published on The Mindful Company.