Healthy ingredients to lift your mood
It’s easy to turn to sugary snacks and high calorie food when you’re feeling down, but there are some things you can do to make you feel better, including keeping active and following a healthy diet. Remember, what you eat can affect your mood, so we've pulled together a list of foods that make you feel good.
Known for their energy-releasing properties, bananas are also mood-boosting fuel. This is down to a combination of complex carbohydrates and vitamin B6, which helps create serotonin and makes you feel good and raring to go. If you don't fancy eating one whole, try adding it to a smoothie, topping your porridge with slices, or baking tasty banana bread or muffins.
Easy-to-cook and a great addition to any dish, leafy greens pack a punch when it comes to mood-boosting properties. Introduce spinach, kale or mustard greens to your diet for a daily dose of folates, vitamin B12 and fibre - all essential vitamins and minerals linked to helping you feel better and encouraging your body to absorb protein.
Once a dish from the 70s, now a staple at every hipster café, the fleshy avocado is packed full of good stuff. Yes, they're relatively high in fat but this green fruit is also rich in B vitamins, including B6 responsible for helping you release serotonin (those happy hormones). Not to mention they are also high in fibre, so you feel fuller for longer and less likely to dip in energy throughout the day. Time for tea and avocado toast.
Don't forget the humble seed. From flax seeds to sunflower seeds, these can be sprinkled on your porridge or added into dishes to add flavour and a nutritional edge. Sunflower seeds, in particular, are a good source of magnesium, vitamin E and vitamin B6 - all known for their mood-boosting properties. Pumpkin seeds are full of zinc, which is linked to brain health and stabilising your mood or go for flaxseeds, a source of omega-3s, which help lift the spirits. When you're feeling low, add seeds to your diet.
Tasty, easy to come by and a great source of vitamins and minerals, mushrooms are worth adding to your diet. Available in a number of varieties, you can dice them and add to many a dish such as risotto and pasta. What do you get nutrition-wise? Well, mushrooms are a great source of protein, fibre, B vitamins (linked to energy release in the body and a better nervous system) and selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant that supports your immune system, so can help with warding off pesky colds. What's more, white button mushrooms can provide you with vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, which is something lacking when staying indoors for a long period of time. Low levels have been linked to SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
Fry them, poach them, scramble them, eggs are one of the most versatile foods out there. They're also high in protein and packed full of healthy nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin B12 and choline - a nutrient that supports the nervous system. You'll also benefit from the following minerals: zinc, iron and copper. All linked with improving how your body functions and making you feel better. Get your brain fix and boost your mood by cracking an egg.
No longer just a staple for vegans, lentils are one of the healthiest and cheapest ingredients around. Add a scoop of lentils to a stew, soup or pasta dish and you'll reap the benefits from this nutrient-dense legume. Packed full of protein and fibre, lentils will leave you satisfied and help keep you regular. What's more, they're a good source of iron, which helps your blood pump oxygen around the body. A lack of iron can leave you feeling tired and lacklustre. You'll also get a dose of magnesium, which is linked to reducing your cortisol (stress hormone) so you'll feel better and calmer.
Feed your brain with omega-3-packed fish like sardines or salmon. Omega-3s are healthy fatty acids linked to heart health, depression and a bunch of other benefits. You'll also find high levels of vitamin B12, selenium, protein, choline and more in a tin of sardines alone. While a portion of salmon is high in B vitamins, a good source of protein, loaded with selenium and contains potassium (which helps develop your muscles and is linked with managing high blood pressure).
Water helps our body function properly and even a little dehydration can affect your physical and mental wellbeing. You can also end up eating more sweet stuff to give you a boost throughout the day. Instead, make sure you keep a reusable water bottle regularly topped up to take with you on the go and ensure you're getting what you need.