We already know that what we’re eating can have a major effect on our bodies and our physical health, but research has indicated that our diet can also affect our mood.
Researchers have found that certain nutrients can help improve our mood and decrease stress, according to Greatist.
Here are ten foods and their nutrients that have been shown to be natural mood-boosters.
Note that nutrition, while important for good health, shouldn’t be considered a substitute for proper mental health treatment. If you’re experiencing serious depression, consider seeking help from a qualified medical professional.
Omega-3 fatty acids are known for improving our mood, and while many people think fish are the only way to get them, chia seeds are actually a good source of omega-3s as well. Chia seeds are also high in protein and fiber, making them even healthier. One ounce of chia seeds can contain 4,915 mg of omega-3s, according to Healthline.
Chia seeds are good for making chia seed pudding or simply sprinkling on top of other meals. Try them in this Chia Ginger Fresca and this Chia Pudding With Blueberries!
Vitamin B12 helps promote blood-cell formation, a healthy nervous system, and has also been found to be a natural mood-booster, according to The Cut. While plant-based vitamin B12 can be tricky to find naturally, fortified foods like soy milk, tofu, non-dairy yogurts, and nutritional yeast can be helpful for getting the B12 you need as a vegan. Just be sure to check the labels to see how much B12 the product contains.
Use your fortified nutritional yeast to add a “cheesy” flavor to this Creamy Butternut Mac and Cheese and these Sweet Potato Stuffed Shells With Cashew Alfredo.
Bananas are a great plant-based source of vitamin B6, and the healthy carbs in bananas will help you absorb the tryptophan they contain before converting it into serotonin, according to Caring.com.
Use some bananas in this Mango Sorbet With Banana and Pineapple and these Banana and Peanut Butter Flapjacks.
Folate, also known as vitamin B9, promotes cell growth and division as well as helping your body form red blood cells. A deficiency in folate has been linked to depression, according to Psychology Today. Cooked edamame is a rich source of folate, with more than 106 mcg of folate in a 1/2 cup serving.
Have some edamame in this Chickpea and Edamame Quinoa and this Edamame Seaweed Salad!
According to a study from Lund University in Sweden, a diet rich in fiber can help improve a person’s mood, as well as their memory and ability to concentrate. Fiber has also been found to reduce inflammation and improve metabolism. Barley is one rich source of fiber that you can easily add to your diet!
Try barley in this Macrobiotic Pearled Barley Ojiya: Japanese Breakfast Porridge and this Spinach Salad With Barley Bacon.
Tyrosine is an amino acid found in sesame seeds that can help increase the brain’s levels of dopamine, according to Dr. Axe. According to WebMD, Tyrosine has been used to promote learning and memory during times of stress.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a role in producing serotonin. It can help convert tryptophan into serotonin, according to Livestrong. Magnesium also helps with the production of proteins and helps muscles and enzymes to function. Magnesium supplements have even been recommended as a treatment for the effects of premenstrual syndrome.
Hemp seeds are a rich source of magnesium. Try using them in these Raw Ice Cream Sandwiches and these Raw Hemp Chia Seed Bars.
While you can get vitamin D just from being exposed to sunlight, sometimes that isn’t an option, especially in the winter months. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that affects everything from the immune system to the brain, according to Psychology Today. A deficiency in vitamin D has been linked to depression in a number of studies.
Mushrooms are a good vegan source of vitamin D if it’s not sunny where you are. Try using mushrooms in this Mushroom Stroganoff and these Garlic and Thyme Pan Seared Mushrooms!
Zinc is a mineral that has a role in how the brain responds to stress, Psychology Today reports. A deficiency in zinc has been linked with depression, seizures, and ADHD symptoms. There are a number of vegan options for getting zinc, one of which are oats, which are also rich in fiber.
Try using oats in this these Savory Mushroom Oats and this Turmeric Ginger Oatmeal.
For more info on vegan food, download the Food Monster App, available for both Android and iPhone. The app is loaded with thousands of allergy-friendly & vegan recipes/cooking tips. It also has hundreds of search filters and features like bookmarking and meal plans.
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